• What is an annotation?
  • Examples of what to annotate
  • What should be considered when writing annotations?
  • Models to follow for annotating evidence

What is an annotation?

An annotation is a statement that provides context for your evidence of professional learning and explains its significance. It is a story of your professional knowledge, practice, and engagement.

It could be in the form of notations on an artefact (an individual piece of evidence, e.g. a lesson plan, piece of professional reading, or meeting logs/notes) or an explanatory paragraph. Annotations are usually short, concise, and are made up of one or more paragraphs relating to the relevant Standard descriptor(s) and impact of the professional learning.

For teachers, an annotation, in alignment with the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers should explain and justify the impact of your learning or practice on colleagues and learners.

Why annotate evidence of professional learning?

Many teachers take part in professional learning to improve their knowledge and practice, and to have a more significant impact in the classroom. Some states and territories may require the annotation of evidence of professional learning for registration. It is important to keep in mind the audience for the annotations. However, even annotating evidence of professional learning for personal use can be beneficial.

Annotations demonstrate engagement with professional learning, colleagues, networks, and the broader community. Annotating your professional learning allows you to:

  • reflect on new learning and your current practice
  • identify areas of your teaching practice that can be changed or improved
  • identify new professional learning going forward
  • help identify and clarify important ideas
  • increase quality of information sharing with colleagues
  • meet registration requirements(depending on your state/territory).

Annotations can be useful to revisit when assessing professional learning needs in the future, and when discussing professional learning experiences with colleagues.

An effective annotation of an artefact or set of artefacts, linked to a particular career stage of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, will clarify why and how the artefacts address the Standards or Descriptors and explain the impact on teaching and learning.

Examples of what to annotate

Which artefacts you decide to annotate will largely depend on the reason for annotating. Below is a possible list of artefacts related to professional learning that could be annotated:

  • Teaching and learning plans
  • Professional learning plan
  • Professional journal
  • Action research summary
  • Notes from coaching or mentoring conversations or classroom observations
  • Slides, handouts from professional learning workshops
  • Articles or research papers
  • Screenshots of social media conversations
  • Or a combination of these to form artefact sets.

Artefacts can be rich evidence sources when they are well-chosen, high quality, and concise. They should also be authentic, verifiable, accurate and credible.

What should you consider when writing annotations?

When writing annotations for professional learning, it is helpful to consider who the audience is. If the annotations are for personal use, then it can be less formal than if it is for more formal requirements such as registration or certification purposes.

  • Length: Short, concise, approximately 100-150 words long.
  • Timely: Evidence and annotations should be dated for authenticity.
  • Context: Explain the who, when, why and what. What you did is an integral part of your annotation. This should include not just the professional learning activity, but any follow-up actions taken in your classroom or school
  • Clarity: Use short, simple sentences and avoid jargon. The annotations should be easily understood by a third party.
  • Australian Professional Standards for Teachers: align your professional learning with a career stage, identify the Standard(s) and/or Descriptor(s) being accounted for and explain links between the evidence and the specific Standard/Descriptor.
  • Impact: Identify the impact of the learning, including the impact on your colleagues and learners. How did the professional learning inform your practice and what were the outcomes?

Models to follow for annotating evidence

There are two models that you could use to help write annotations.

STAR Model

  • Situation – Describe the situation, professional learning, class, or school/setting. Tell your story and contextualise the evidence.
  • Task - What did you need to accomplish to deal with the situation? What were you hoping to achieve? What was the reason for undertaking the professional learning/task? What was your role?
  • Action – What did you do? Set out the steps you took including how the professional learning was implemented into practice.
  • Result – What was the outcome? What was accomplished and learned? Was it the outcome you expected? How do you plan to use the learning in the future?


  • Context – Context of activity, lesson, topic, event, professional learning.
  • Action - What did you do? Set out the steps you took including how the professional learning was implemented into practice..
  • Results - What was the outcome? What was accomplished and learned? Was it the outcome you expected? How do you plan to use the learning in the future?
  • Evaluation - Your reflection on the actions and results.
  • Standards - The relevant focus areas of the Standards that you have evidenced.