The Plastic Brain

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APST “Illustrating Practice” Workshop 3

Review and Resources

The Workshop began by review some of the successful outcomes from the previous workshop. In particular, the break-down of the Focus Areas using fishbone diagrams was highlight. The diagrams from the session were scanned, and are available through the SkyDrive.

This provided a lead-in to the other files and resources available on the SkyDrive, including a guide to e-portfolios on Google Sites, and a template for annotating evidence.

Pair and Share

The first activity was a pair-and-share, looking at:

  1. How we went with our Lesson Observation (link to tool)
  2. What Annotated Evidence we had brought

It was a useful chance to talk to others about the benefits of lesson observations. My partner and I agreed that it would be useful for schools to have policies and maybe even defined programs to support systematic lesson observation.


To follow on from the Lesson Observation, we watched DECD Webisode (featuring Evan Polymeneas). Then, we discussed how evidence in the Webisode matched Focus Areas in Standards 3, 4, and 5.

Next, we looked at the benefits and outcomes of our own observations. What Standard did you focus on?

In my observation, we did not explicitly define a standard on which to focus. However, Standard 3 (Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning) became the focus of the lesson.

During our table discussions, we raised the following points:

  1. Some Standards can be assessed by observation (eg 1-5) other cannot (eg 6-7). Within those Standards, some Focus Areas are also easier to observe, and is very unlikely that any observation can address all Focus Areas within a Standard.
  2. It is of value to observe lessons outside of your teaching area(s). Nonetheless, one member of our table (a Maths and Science teacher) had observed an Art lesson and found that they were almost speaking different languages. They needed to do a briefing before the lesson, in order to unpack the learning intentions, so that the observations were more meaningful.
  3. In some small (country) schools, there simply are not opportunities to have a program of lesson observations.

Building your Annotated Evidence

The final part of the workshop looked at how to put together your evidence. Once again, the SkyDrive is populated with resources.

The main formats for evidence sets would be:

  1. A traditional (paper) portfolio. I would not favour this, but I did see some about, and can really see how they could make it simple to collect evidence.
  2. A file or folder with electronic evidence. This is what I have started doing. I have a powerpoint file, with each slide having an evidence artefact and annotations. However, I am beginning to see the limitations of this, and am moving to…
  3. An e-portfolio. This allow easy hyperlinking and sharing, as well as embedding of rich evidence types (audio, video). See a previous post on e-portfolios. The SkyDrive has a walk-through of making a Google Sites e-portfolio. I am currently leaning towards this platform (WordPress) as the host for my e-portfolio. I will generate posts for each artefact, which can be tagged with the relevant Focus Areas.


The Certification process looks like it will be long and arduous – and all of the final details are still not confirmed. However, it does look like a very worthwhile process. Already, I have learned so much about myself, and what it means to be a highly accomplished teacher. Reflecting on your own practice and planning your professional development is never wasted time.

Whether there will be “bonus payments” in South Australia appears unlikely at this stage. Nonetheless, being accredited as a Highly Accomplished or Lead Teacher will certainly have career implications. Job and person specifications are already starting to use the language of the Standards and Career Levels.

[Link to Workshop 1, Workshop 2]


APST “Illustrating Practice” Workshop 2

Today’s session focussed on “Annotating Evidence”, and was introduced by Belinda Radcliff from the Performance Standards and Certification Team at DECD.

As with last session, Belinda did a great acknowledgement of country, including reference to the Recognise movement, which is well worth checking out.

After a brief meet and greet, we viewed an animated summary of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. (link to the longer version) in order to reacquaint ourselves with the standards.

Language of the Standards

The bulk of the workshop focussed on unpacking the language of the standards. The “lexical patterns” are quite revealing of the differentiation amongst the career stages. The table below shows the frequency of certain phrases within the standards.


Quite clearly ‘supporting colleagues’ and ‘working with colleagues’ are a key parts of being a HA teacher, but are not explicitly mentioned at the proficient level.

We then worked in pairs to examine the increased syntactical complexity across the career stages within one focus area.


You can see simply from the length, but also the complexity, that the demands are increasing.

Personally, I found the exercises and discussion relating to deconstructing the Descriptors to be very useful. It allowed me to unpack their content, and gave me insight into the evidence which would be required to meet the standards which my partner and I had examined.

Using “Illustrations of Practice” Videos to Understand the Standards

In the final segment, we watched and discussed a series of four Illustrations of Practice from the AISTL website which looked at Focus Area 2.1 (Know the Content and How to Teach It) at Graduate, Proficient, HA and Lead level.

It was evident from the videos, working along with the Descriptors, how each of the teachers showed increasing competency for that focus area, and how the requirements for each career stage differ.

Annotating Evidence?

In the end, we ran out of time before getting into the details of annotating evidence. Quite convenient for most of us, who needed a little more time on our homework anyway – developing an evidence set to annotate.

We should be covering that in the last and final session in two weeks. Watch this space.

[Link to Workshop 1]


APST “Illustrating Practice” Workshop 1


Today I completed the first of three workshops focused on developing a collection of evidence, for certification against the new Australian Professional Standards for Teaching (produced by AITSL). Each two-hour workshop is designed to cover the following:
  1. What is Evidence?
  2. Annotating your Evidence
  3. Quality Professional Statements
As an introduction, we were told that the purpose of the introduction of the Standards is to support nationalisation of the teaching professional: from graduate courses through to leaderships roles. It is a means by which we can ensure that practices across all parts of the country are consistent, and provides a language and structure for reflection, learning and professional development.
It was noted that the process of certification is, in itself, a major opportunity for professional development. By working through the process, using deep personal reflection, working with colleagues and becoming aware of your strengths you should come out the other end a better teacher.
The Australian Professional Standards for Teacher (APST) form part of a larger framework (explanatory animation here).

What are the Standards?

The Standards are broken down by the following hierarchy:
3 Domains, divided amongst
7 Standards, each of which is further divided into
Multiple Focus Areas
Each Focus Area is then aligned with Career Stage Descriptors, which outlines the standard required to achieve that Focus Area at a particular career stage (Graduate, Proficient, Highly Accomplished, Lead). These four levels can be characterised by the following verbs: Adopt, Adapt, Collaborate, Initiate.
Why collect evidence?
  • Professional developement
  • Enhanced collaboration
  • Assists career progressive
  • Improved student outcomes!
Of course, the evidence is then used for certification. More information on the certification process here.
Pre-assessment -> Assessment Round 1 -> Assessment Round 2 -> Certification decision making.
A useful entry to the process is to use the Self Assessment Tool. Not only is it a good guide for the process, but provides you with areas where further work or PD may be required. Working on these goals early in the process should allow you to gather skills and evidence before the formal assessment process.

Evidence Packages

Evidence for certification is compiled into packages, containing the following evidence types:

  1. Annoted Evidence
  2. Classroom Observations
  3. Teacher Reflection on Direct Evidence (eg HAT 3 written pages)
  4. Referee Statements (3-5, including principal or line manager)
  5. (For lead) Description/outcomes from a student achievement program

Annotating Evidence

To fully annotate your evidence, it is recommended to follow the “CARES Model”: Context, Action, Result, Evaluation, Standards

Evidence “Sets”

The aim is to create rich evidence. Where sets of evidence relating to the same practice or learning can build to add further detail.

For example: A PD course certificate, followed up with a blog post (like this!), augmented by colleague comments (please comment!), with meeting follow-up minutes, etc, etc.


Use Self Assessment Tool

Use Lesson Observation Tool


[Link to Workshop 2]