A teacher’s role in students’ lives is extremely profound. Not only are they vessels of knowledge transfer, but also role models with the capacity of affecting a child’s outlook on life. These delicate responsibilities are guided by a set of professional standards, specifically in Australia, they are safeguarded by the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.
These comprehensive guidelines seek to ensure teachers provide students with rich, fascinating and well-structured learning experiences. To do this, teachers need the right knowledge, skills, and competencies.
The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers outlines three key domains of focus: professional knowledge, professional practice, and professional engagement across four career stages: Graduate, Proficient, Highly Accomplished and Lead. There are 7 key professional standards span these three areas of focus.
1. Understand students and their learning styles
Teachers are to draw their knowledge from a body of professional knowledge and understand how to respond to students’ learning needs within their educational contexts. To do this, teachers need to be able to consider students’ cultural and religious backgrounds and how they affect their learning.
This also guides the structure of lessons so that it meets the psychological, physical, social and intellectual development needs.
2. Have a firm grasp on content and how to deliver it
Teachers need to know the content of their curriculum and subject, fundamental concepts, enquiry and structure processes, as well as relevant programs they teach.
All this is to help the teacher have a clear idea of what standards are expected in terms of what students should know at their stage and how to deliver the content in a way that stimulates meaningful learning for learners.
3. Plan and implement effective teaching and learning strategies
Teachers can make learning engaging and valued by creating challenging learning environments while maintaining safe and inclusive learning atmospheres.
4. Create and sustain a safe and supportive learning environment
Ensuring a safe space for learning entails teachers’ proactive behaviour management plans and varied robust communication techniques so that students build confidence in expressing their ideas. Through equitable behaviour management plans and strategies, teachers can focus on managing student learning outcomes.
5. Assess, provide feedback, and report on student learning and progress
Teachers operate effectively at all teaching and learning cycle stages. They can evaluate student learning outcomes and assess teaching methods to ensure they are meeting students’ learning needs.
Teachers also provide progress feedback to parents and develop strategies for further support in cases where they are needed. Assessments are structured to validly assess content understanding and application and suggestions are made for areas of improvement in teaching.
6. Engage in continuous professional learning
As much as teachers teach, they also learn. They learn from their own teaching and they can learn from others. They should be able to identify their own learning and development needs through the evaluation of their professional performance and communicate learning needs to the school so that professional development can occur.
7. Engage professionally with members of communities, colleagues, parents, and the community
Teachers work in communities and they can benefit from being part of the teacher network. As part of the network, teachers should demonstrate professionalism and respect in all their interactions with students, colleagues, parents, and communities at large. They are sensitive to parents’ concerns about their children’s learning needs and are able to respond to them effectively.
In addition to the immediate community, teachers recognize their place as part of a larger community and are able to exploit opportunities to engage with others beyond the classroom context to expand and enrich their skills.