3.5 Use Effective Classroom Communication

(Last Updated On: September 5, 2023)

What does this descriptor look like at different levels?

Use effective classroom communication is the fifth descriptor of the third standard of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.

This standard is all about how you interact with your students on a very literal level. It’s not about what you’re teaching, or even the strategies that you’re using to teach it. It’s about how you, as a person, interact with young people.

This is a tricky standard to get right for many people. It can be hard to walk the line between being supportive while maintaining high expectations and some distance. If teaching is both an art and a science, this focus area is definitely more on the art side.

See more: Australian Professional Standards for Teachers Terminology Explained


What does it look like?

At the Graduate level, teachers are expected to demonstrate a range of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies to support student engagement.

Unlike many other focus areas at the Graduate level, this descriptor expects you actually to demonstrate your communication skills. Because you need to reach the Graduate level before you graduate with a teaching degree in Australia, you’ll need to do this with limited experience in the classroom.

This is why making use of your teaching placement is so important. You cannot demonstrate this descriptor after your placement with an essay or report. You’ll need to get enough support and feedback from your mentor teacher to provide evidence for this standard.

See more: Student Engagement: How Do We Know if Our Students are Learning?

What evidence can I collect?

For this descriptor, your mentor teacher’s notes are perfect evidence.

Make sure that your mentor teacher is writing objective notes about your lessons. Their notes should include their observations of your lessons, including how you communicate with your students.

As long as you demonstrate a range of communication strategies in these lessons, you’ll be good to go!

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


What does it look like?

At the Proficient level, teachers are expected to use effective verbal and non-verbal communication strategies to support student understanding, participation, engagement and achievement.

At this career stage, you need to have outcomes. While it’s enough to just use a range of strategies as a Graduate teacher, to become a certified Proficient teacher, you’ll need to show that it’s effective.

Teaching is all about trying different strategies in different contexts. Having a wide range of strategies at your disposal is the first step in being able to apply them in different contexts. The most important thing to remember: if something isn’t working, try something different!

See more: The Power of Praise – How to Properly Praise your Students

What evidence can I collect?

At this career stage, you’ll need evidence of two things:

  • You can use a range of communication strategies.
  • The strategies that you use are working.

Because of this, you’ll need at least two pieces of evidence.

The first piece of evidence needs to show how you communicate with your students. Because this is a physical action that you take in the class, your documents and plans aren’t going to be enough. The best piece of evidence that you can collect to provide evidence for this descriptor is a lesson observation.

Secondly, you’ll need evidence that what you’re doing is working. This can also come from a lesson observation; two criteria in the descriptor are participation and engagement, which can certainly be included in a lesson observation. Student work samples or achievement data may be better evidence if you’re trying to provide evidence of understanding and achievement.

Highly Accomplished

What does it look like?

At the Highly Accomplished level, teachers are expected to assist colleagues to select a wide range of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies to support students’ understanding, engagement and achievement.

For this focus area, your actions in the classroom will look very similar to a Proficient Teacher. The different between Proficient and Highly Accomplished teachers is what you do outside of the classroom.

To become a Highly Accomplished teacher, you’ll need to be supporting your colleagues.

There are many ways to support your colleagues. At the Highly Accomplished level, you could support a whole team of teachers or just the one.

What evidence can I collect?

This will depend on how you end up supporting your colleagues. A couple pieces of evidence that you could collect:

  • Minutes from meetings.
  • Email communication.
  • Collaborative documents showing different people’s contributions.
  • Slides or notes from workshops that you’ve delivered on communication strategies.

Whatever type of evidence you’ve chosen to use, don’t forget to annotate. Your annotations are essential to explain the context of the evidence and how it is linked to the Highly Accomplished descriptor for this focus area.


What does it look like?

At the Lead level, teachers are expected to demonstrate and lead by example inclusive verbal and non-verbal communication using collaborative strategies and contextual knowledge to support students’ understanding, engagement and achievement.

At this career stage, you’ll need to impact your entire site.

It’s not enough to work with a few other teachers. At this level, you need to lead significant changes in how your school communicates with its students.

You can develop language strategies to build literacy or by embedding trauma-informed practices. These are just two examples of the many different projects you could undertake. Whatever lens you choose, you need to change how all teachers communicate with their students to improve learning outcomes.

What evidence can I collect?

You’ll need a number of different pieces of evidence to show that you’ve reached this descriptor.

A project brief is a good start, outlining what you intend to do and why. Minutes of progress meetings or professional development that you do along the way will show that you’re working on your project.

Observations of other teachers’ practice or feedback from students form extraordinary evidence of the impact that you have had.

To learn more about the other descriptors in the third standard of the APST, use the following links:

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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