I already have high level knowledge / practice because I work in a specialist setting with learners with special needs. Do I have to do the PD?

Yes.  Effective teaching practice relies on continuous learning. You will be able to select PD in special needs that builds on your existing knowledge base.

Do I have to address all of the standards descriptors 1.6, 1.5 and 4.1 in my professional learning?

The focus is on developing your capacity to teach learners with a disability so you must address standard descriptor 1.6 (Design and implement teaching activities that support the participation and learning of learners with disability and address relevant policy and legislative requirements).

Learning outcomes for those with a disability are maximised when their level of learning is understood, and they are provided with the means to participate in learning in an inclusive environment. This is why standards descriptors 1.5 (Develop teaching activities that incorporate differentiated strategies to meet the specific learning needs of learners across the full range of abilities) and 4.1 (Establish and implement inclusive and positive interactions to engage and support all learners in learning activities) are important. You do not, however, have to address these standards descriptors in your PD.

What type of PD do I need to do to address the descriptors 1.6, 1.5 and 4.1? 

Effective practice relies on continuous learning. Professional development is most effective when it is targeted, collaborative and addresses the identified needs of the learners they are teaching. The focus of your PD should be on descriptor 1.6 (Design and implement teaching activities that support the participation and learning of learners with disability and address relevant policy and legislative requirement). It’s likely, but not necessary, that the PD you undertake will also address standard descriptors 1.5 and 4.1.

The aim of PD is to improve your capability as a teacher to teach learners with a disability, so you need to be comfortable that the amount of PD you have done is enough to achieve this. 
PD about learners with a disability can be accessed face-to-face or online and in formal or informal settings. It can include:

  • PD delivered by expert colleagues or other experts in your workplace
  • curriculum days
  • seminars and workshops, online modules, webinars or programs
  • conferences
  • PD program leading to a credential
  • professional reading - if you are learning something and applying it to your teaching
  • online research (website / podcast / 'ted talk') when you apply the learning you do to your teaching
  • coaching and mentoring
  • action or inquiry-based research
  • engagement with a professional learning team or community practice
  • instructional rounds.

You must be able to identify the new learning you have gained from your PD, and have evidence of attendance or engagement.

I am an educational leader and do not teach learners. Do I have to undertake this PD and what is the relevance for me?

Teacher registration requirements also apply to professionals in leadership roles. Renewal of registration is about demonstrating that you have maintained your knowledge and practice to be a teacher. Therefore all registered teachers and early childhood teachers must complete PD in special needs.

Where a registered teacher’s focus is educational leadership, they could select PD based on the Lead Teacher level of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Standard descriptor 1.6 involves initiating and leading a review of policies to support the engagement and full participation of learners with disability, and ensuring compliance with legislative and / or system policies. Standards descriptors 1.5 and 4.1 place the emphasis on leading colleagues, evaluating the effectiveness of programs to differentiate learning for all learners and leading the development of productive and inclusive learning environments.

More information about the LEAD level of the APST can be found at www.aitsl.edu.au. 

I am a provisionally registered teacher / early childhood teacher, and I don't have / don't know if I have a child with special needs.

It’s best to consult with your mentor or educational leaders to discuss this. You may not be teaching learners with a disability, but there may be these types of learners in your education setting who you can consider in your development of evidence of Proficient Teacher practice.

Your PD and development of practice can be targeted to the needs of some (or all) of these learners, so that you can support your colleagues who do teach them, and so your encounters with these learners can be informed by their learning context and needs. After all, you may be teaching these learners in the future.

When will you demonstrate PD?

  • If you are provisionally registered, you’ll demonstrate it as part of the process of moving to (full) teacher registration or early childhood teacher registration.
  • If you are a registered teacher or early childhood teacher, you can use this when you renew your registration.
  • If you are a returning from non-practising teacher, you’ll demonstrate it as part of your returning from non-practising paperwork