2.1 Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area

What does this descriptor look like at different levels?

Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area is the first descriptor of the second standard of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.

This descriptor covers your content knowledge and pedagogy specific to your subject. As a teacher, you need to understand the content you are teaching well enough to foresee the obstacles your students will face and plan accordingly. Each subject has specific pedagogical approaches and strategies that are more effective for teaching their associated skills and content.

See more: Australian Professional Standards for Teachers Terminology Explained


What does it look like?

At the Graduate level, teachers are expected to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the concepts, substance and structure of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area.

As with many descriptors at the Graduate level, you are only expected to demonstrate that you know how your subject is structured and how you can teach it. In Australia, you need to demonstrate that you have reached this level before you can graduate from university, so you will only have limited teaching experience when you reach this standard.

What evidence can I collect?

To provide evidence that you have met this focus area at the Graduate level, you can create an annotated lesson or unit plans with links to specific curricula. For example, you can annotate a maths unit with the specific curriculum links and why you’ve chosen those to base your teaching on at this point in your program. You can then link the pedagogy you will use directly to these curriculum links.


What does it look like?

At the Proficient level, teachers are expected to apply knowledge of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area to develop engaging teaching activities.

You’re actually teaching now. To meet this level of this standard, you’re going to need to put all of the things that you planned and learnt about at the Graduate level into practice.

The Proficient level doesn’t outline any deeper understanding of your subject or its associated teaching strategies. It simply extends what you currently know into developing activities for your students that are engaging and effective.

What evidence can I collect?

You will need to show off those engaging learning activities to demonstrate that you’ve met this focus area at the Proficient level. Unlike similar standards, you only need to show your planning for this descriptor. This means that you don’t need evidence that you’ve used these activities (although that is also good and can be done through lesson observations), but simply showing off the planning for these activities is enough.

Because of this, you could use worksheets, task sheets, lesson plans, or any part of your planning documentation that shows what activities you are using in the classroom. As always, annotate them to show you’re thinking when planning them. For this descriptor, you are going to need to show that you know what you’re teaching and how, so describe why you’re covering certain parts of the curriculum at this point, the order of content, potential stumbling blocks, and how these are addressed by your pedagogy.

See more: Lesson Observations – Common Questions and Concerns for Teachers

Highly Accomplished

What does it look like?

At the Highly Accomplished level, teachers are expected to support colleagues using current and comprehensive knowledge of content and teaching strategies to develop and implement engaging learning and teaching programs.

As with most descriptors at the Highly Accomplished level, this is where you need to be working with your colleagues. You will need to learn more about the content of your teaching area and strategies that can be used to teach it, and use this knowledge to benefit more students than just those in your own classroom.

What evidence can I collect?

To demonstrate that you are working at the Highly Accomplished level, you will need to demonstrate a few things for this descriptor.

First, you’ll need to show an increased understanding of content and teaching strategies. You can do this through notes from professional learning, which includes details of how you could apply them in your school context.

You will also need evidence that you’ve worked with other people. Minutes of meetings or emails back and forth will demonstrate this nicely.

Finally, you’ll need to demonstrate that you have collaboratively designed learning activities based on what you have learnt. This could be similar evidence to what you would collect for the Proficient level, ie. lesson and unit plans, or the resources associated with these learning activities. As always, annotate these so that it is clear what you were thinking, and why you made certain decisions, and to link everything together.

See more: How to Present a Great Professional Learning Workshop


What does it look like?

At the Lead Teacher level, teachers are expected to lead initiatives within the school to evaluate and improve knowledge of content and teaching strategies and demonstrate exemplary teaching of subjects using effective, research-based learning and teaching programs.

This is another step above what you would demonstrate at the Highly Accomplished level. While a Highly Accomplished teacher will be using their learning to support their colleagues, a Lead teacher will be designing those learning opportunities.

What evidence can I collect?

To provide evidence for this descriptor, you will need to show that you have planned and led an initiative. You may have a project brief or other documentation required to initiate this process which clearly shows you in the lead.

You will also need evidence that you are fulfilling the brief. Any planning documentation, emails with professional learning providers, etc., are great evidence you can collect. Make sure you annotate all of these pieces of evidence to make it clear how you evaluate current practice at your school and work to improve it.

Learn more about the other focus areas and descriptors for Standard 2:

2.2 Content Selection and Organisation

2.3 Curriculum, assessment and reporting

2.4 Understand and respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People to Promote Reconciliation

2.5 Literacy and Numeracy Strategies

2.6 Information and Communication Technology

Elise is an enthusiastic and passionate Australian teacher who is on a mission to inspire and support fellow educators. With over a decade of experience in the classroom, Elise leverages her expertise and creativity to provide valuable insights and resources through her blog. Whether you're looking for innovative lesson ideas, effective teaching strategies, or just a dose of inspiration, Elise has got you covered.

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