Teacher Standards

Several activities and resources contained on the Special Connections web site can be utilized to meet various teacher quality standards. Two sets of specific standards have been addressed on the site. These standards include the Council for Exceptional Children's Professional Standards and the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) Standards. Components of the site which address specific standards within each of these sets of standards are found below.

Specific standards

Council for Exceptional Children logo

The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)

The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) is the largest international professional organization dedicated to improving educational outcomes for individuals with exceptionalities, students with disabilities, and/or the gifted. The CEC Special Education Content Standards are made up of ten narrative standards. The Content standards have been organized into ten domain areas. These domain areas parallel those of the ten Interstate New Teacher and Assessment Consortium (INTASC) principles.
Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC)  logo

Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC)

The Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) is a consortium of state education agencies, higher education institutions, and national educational organizations dedicated to the reform of the education, licensing, and on-going professional development of teachers. The INTASC model core standards for licensing teachers represent those principles which should be present in all teaching regardless of the subject or grade level taught and serve as a framework for the systemic reform of teacher preparation and professional development.

Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC)

The Teacher Understands the Central Concepts, Tools of Inquiry, and Structures of Discipline(s) He/She Teachers and Can Create Learning Experiences that Make these Aspects of Subject Matter Meaningful for Students

  • Knowledge
    • The teacher understands major concepts, assumptions, debates, processes of inquiry, and ways of knowing that are central to the discipline(s) s/he teaches.
    • The teacher understands how students' conceptual frameworks and their misconceptions for an area of knowledge can influence their learning.
    • The teacher can relate his/her disciplinary knowledge to other subject areas.
  • Dispositions
    • The teacher realizes that subject matter knowledge is not a fixed body of facts but is complex and ever-evolving. S/he seeks to keep abreast of new ideas and understandings in the field.
    • The teacher appreciates multiple perspectives and conveys to learners how knowledge is developed from the vantage point of the knower.
    • The teacher has enthusiasm for the discipline(s) s/he teaches and sees connections to everyday life.
    • The teacher is committed to continuous learning and engages in professional discourse about subject matter knowledge and children's learning of the discipline.
  • Performances
    • The teacher effectively uses multiple representations and explanations of disciplinary concepts that capture key ideas and link them to students' prior understandings.
    • The teacher can represent and use differing viewpoints, theories, 'ways of knowing' and methods of inquiry in his/her teaching of subject matter concepts.
    • The teacher can evaluate teaching resources and curriculum materials for their comprehensiveness, accuracy, and usefulness for representing particular ideas and concepts.
    • The teacher engages students in generating knowledge and testing hypotheses according to the methods of inquiry and standards of evidence used in the discipline.
    • The teacher develops and uses curricula that encourage students to see, question, and interpret ideas from diverse perspectives.
    • The teacher can create interdisciplinary learning experiences that allow students to integrate knowledge, skills, and methods of inquiry from several subject areas.

The Teacher Understands How Children Learn and Develop, and can Provide Learning Opportunities that Support their Intellectual, Social, and Personal Development.

  • Knowledge
    • The teacher understands how learning occurs--how students construct knowledge, acquire skills, and develop habits of mind--and knows how to use instructional strategies that promote student learning.
    • The teacher understands that students' physical, social, emotional, moral and cognitive development influence learning and knows how to address these factors when making instructional decisions.
    • The teacher is aware of expected developmental progressions and ranges of individual variation within each domain (physical, social, emotional, moral and cognitive), can identify levels of readiness in learning, and understands how development in any one domain may affect performance in others.
  • Dispositions
    • The teacher appreciates individual variation within each area of development, shows respect for the diverse talents of all learners, and is committed to help them develop self-confidence and competence.
    • The teacher is disposed to use students' strengths as a basis for growth, and their errors as an opportunity for learning.
  • Performances
    • The teacher assesses individual and group performance in order to design instruction that meets learners' current needs in each domain (cognitive, social, emotional, moral, and physical) and that leads to the next level of development.
    • The teacher stimulates student reflection on prior knowledge and links new ideas to already familiar ideas, making connections to students' experiences, providing opportunities for active engagement, manipulation, and testing of ideas and materials, and encouraging students to assume responsibility for shaping their learning tasks.
    • The teacher accesses students' thinking and experiences as a basis for instructional activities by, for example, encouraging discussion, listening and responding to group interaction, and eliciting samples of student thinking orally and in writing. 

The Teacher Understands how Students Differ in Their Approaches to Learning and Creates Instructional Opportunities that are Adapted to Diverse Learners

  • Knowledge
    • The teacher understands and can identify differences in approaches to learning and performance, including different learning styles, multiple intelligences, and performance modes, and can design instruction that helps use students' strengths as the basis for growth.
    • The teacher knows about areas of exceptionality in learning--including learning disabilities, visual and perceptual difficulties, and special physical or mental challenges.
    • The teacher knows about the process of second language acquisition and about strategies to support the learning of students whose first language is not English.
    • The teacher understands how students' learning is influenced by individual experiences, talents, and prior learning, as well as language, culture, family and community values.
    • The teacher has a well-grounded framework for understanding cultural and community diversity and knows how to learn about and incorporate students' experiences, cultures, and community resources into instruction.
  • Dispositions
    • The teacher believes that all children can learn at high levels and persists in helping all children achieve success.
    • The teacher appreciates and values human diversity, shows respect for students' varied talents and perspectives, and is committed to the pursuit of "individually configured excellence".
    • The teacher respects students as individuals with differing personal and family backgrounds and various skills, talents, and interests.
    • The teacher is sensitive to community and cultural norms.
    • The teacher makes students feel valued for their potential as people, and helps them learn to value each other.
  • Performances
    • The teacher identifies and designs instruction appropriate to students' stages of development, learning styles, strengths, and needs.
    • The teacher uses teaching approaches that are sensitive to the multiple experiences of learners and that address different learning and performance modes.
    • The teacher makes appropriate provisions (in terms of time and circumstances for work, tasks assigned, communication and response modes) for individual students who have particular learning differences or needs.
    • The teacher can identify when and how to access appropriate services or resources to meet exceptional learning needs. 
    • The teacher seeks to understand students' families, cultures, and communities, and uses this information as a basis for connecting instruction to students' experiences (e.g. drawing explicit connections between subject matter and community matters, making assignments that can be related to students' experiences and cultures).
    • The teacher brings multiple perspectives to the discussion of subject matter, including attention to students' personal, family, and community experiences and cultural norms.
    • The teacher creates a learning community in which individual differences are respected.

The Teacher Understands and Uses a Variety of Instructional Strategies to Encourage Students' Development of Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Performance Skills

  • Knowledge
    • The teacher understands the cognitive processes associated with various kinds of learning (e.g. critical and creative thinking, problem structuring and problem solving, invention, memorization and recall) and how these processes can be stimulated.
    • The teacher understands principles and techniques, along with advantages and limitations, associated with various instructional strategies (e.g. cooperative learning, direct instruction, discovery learning, whole group discussion, independent study, interdisciplinary instruction).
    • The teacher knows how to enhance learning through the use of a wide variety of materials as well as human and technological resources (e.g. computers, audio-visual technologies, videotapes and discs, local experts, primary documents and artifacts, texts, reference books, literature, and other print resources).
  • Dispositions
    • The teacher values the development of students' critical thinking, independent problem solving, and performance capabilities. 
    • The teacher values flexibility and reciprocity in the teaching process as necessary for adapting instruction to student responses, ideas, and needs.
  • Performances
    • The teacher carefully evaluates how to achieve learning goals, choosing alternative teaching strategies and materials to achieve different instructional purposes and to meet student needs (e.g. developmental stages, prior knowledge, learning styles, and interests). 
    • The teacher uses multiple teaching and learning strategies to engage students in active learning opportunities that promote the development of critical thinking, problem solving, and performance capabilities and that help student assume responsibility for identifying and using learning resources.
    • The teacher constantly monitors and adjusts strategies in response to learner feedback.
    • The teacher varies his or her role in the instructional process (e.g. instructor, facilitator, coach, audience) in relation to the content and purposes of instruction and the needs of students.
    • The teacher develops a variety of clear, accurate presentations and representations of concepts, using alternative explanations to assist students' understanding and presenting diverse perspectives to encourage critical thinking.

The Teacher Uses an Understanding of Individual and Group Motivation and Behavior to Create a Learning Environment that Encourages Positive Social Interaction, Active Engagement in Learning, and Self-Motivation.

  • Knowledge
    • The teacher can use knowledge about human motivation and behavior drawn from the foundational sciences of psychology, anthropology, and sociology to develop strategies for organizing and supporting individual and group work.
    • The teacher understands how social groups function and influence people, and how people influence groups.
    • The teacher knows how to help people work productively and cooperatively with each other in complex social settings.
    • The teacher understands the principles of effective classroom management and can use a range of strategies to promote positive relationships, cooperation, and purposeful learning in the classroom.
    • The teacher recognizes factors and situations that are likely to promote or diminish intrinsic motivation, and knows how to help students become self-motivated.
  • Dispositions
    • The teacher takes responsibility for establishing a positive climate in the classroom and participates in maintaining such a climate in the school as whole.
    • The teacher understands how participation supports commitment, and is committed to the expression and use of democratic values in the classroom.
    • The teacher values the role of students in promoting each other's learning and recognizes the importance of peer relationships in establishing a climate of learning.
    • The teacher recognizes the value of intrinsic motivation to students' life-long growth and learning.
    • The teacher is committed to the continuous development of individual students' abilities and considers how different motivational strategies are likely to encourage this development for each student.
  • Performances
    • The teacher creates a smoothly functioning learning community in which students assume responsibility for themselves and one another, participate in decisionmaking, work collaboratively and independently, and engage in purposeful learning activities.
    • The teacher engages students in individual and cooperative learning activities that help them develop the motivation to achieve, by, for example, relating lessons to students' personal interests, allowing students to have choices in their learning, and leading students to ask questions and pursue problems that are meaningful to them.
    • The teacher organizes, allocates, and manages the resources of time, space, activities, and attention to provide active and equitable engagement of students in productive tasks.
    • The teacher maximizes the amount of class time spent in learning by creating expectations and processes for communication and behavior along with a physical setting conducive to classroom goals.
    • The teacher helps the group to develop shared values and expectations for student interactions, academic discussions, and individual and group responsibility that create a positive classroom climate of openness, mutual respect, support, and inquiry.
    • The teacher analyzes the classroom environment and makes decisions and adjustments to enhance social relationships, student motivation and engagement, and productive work.
    • The teacher organizes, prepares students for, and monitors independent and group work that allows for full and varied participation of all individuals.

The Teacher Uses Knowledge of Effective Verbal, Nonverbal, and Media Communication Techniques to Foster Active Inquiry, Collaboration, and Supportive Interaction in the Classroom

  • Knowledge
    • The teacher understands communication theory, language development, and the role of language in learning.
    • The teacher understands how cultural and gender differences can affect communication in the classroom.
    • The teacher recognizes the importance of nonverbal as well as verbal communication.
    • The teacher knows about and can use effective verbal, nonverbal, and media communication techniques.
  • Dispositions
    • The teacher recognizes the power of language for fostering self-expression, identity development, and learning. 
    • The teacher values many ways in which people seek to communicate and encourages many modes of communication in the classroom.
    • The teacher is a thoughtful and responsive listener.
    • The teacher appreciates the cultural dimensions of communication, responds appropriately, and seeks to foster culturally sensitive communication by and among all students in the class.
  • Performances
    • The teacher models effective communication strategies in conveying ideas and information and in asking questions (e.g. monitoring the effects of messages, restating ideas and drawing connections, using visual, aural, and kinesthetic cues, being sensitive to nonverbal cues given and received).
    • The teacher supports and expands learner expression in speaking, writing, and other media.
    • The teacher knows how to ask questions and stimulate discussion in different ways for particular purposes, for example, probing for learner understanding, helping students articulate their ideas and thinking processes, promoting risk-taking and problem-solving, facilitating factual recall, encouraging convergent and divergent thinking, stimulating curiosity, helping students to question.
    • The teacher communicates in ways that demonstrate a sensitivity to cultural and gender differences (e.g. appropriate use of eye contact, interpretation of body language and verbal statements, acknowledgment of and responsiveness to different modes of communication and participation).
    • The teacher knows how to use a variety of media communication tools, including audio-visual aids and computers, to enrich learning opportunities.

The Teacher Plans Instruction Based Upon Knowledge of Subject Matter, Students, the Community, and Curriculum Goals.

  • Knowledge
    • The teacher understands learning theory, subject matter, curriculum development, and student development and knows how to use this knowledge in planning instruction to meet curriculum goals.
    • The teacher knows how to take contextual considerations (instructional materials, individual student interests, needs, and aptitudes, and community resources) into account in planning instruction that creates an effective bridge between curriculum goals and students' experiences.
    • The teacher knows when and how to adjust plans based on student responses and other contingencies.
  • Dispositions
    • The teacher values both long term and short term planning.
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    • The teacher believes that plans must always be open to adjustment and revision based on student needs and changing circumstances.
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    • The teacher values planning as a collegial activity.
  • Performances
    • As an individual and a member of a team, the teacher selects and creates learning experiences that are appropriate for curriculum goals, relevant to learners, and based upon principles of effective instruction (e.g. that activate students' prior knowledge, anticipate preconceptions, encourage exploration and problem-solving, and build new skills on those previously acquired).
    • The teacher plans for learning opportunities that recognize and address variation in learning styles and performance modes.
    • The teacher creates lessons and activities that operate at multiple levels to meet the developmental and individual needs of diverse learners and help each progress.
    • The teacher creates short-range and long-term plans that are linked to student needs and performance, and adapts the plans to ensure and capitalize on student progress and motivation.
    • The teacher responds to unanticipated sources of input, evaluates plans in relation to short- and long-range goals, and systematically adjusts plans to meet student needs and enhance learning.

The Teacher Understands and Uses Formal and Informal Assessment Strategies to Evaluate and Ensure the Continuous Intellectual, Social, and Physical Development of the Learner.

  • Knowledge
    • The teacher understands the characteristics, uses, advantages, and limitations of different types of assessments (e.g. criterion-referenced and norm-referenced instruments, traditional standardized and performance-based tests, observation systems, and assessments of student work) for evaluating how students learn, what they know and are able to do, and what kinds of experiences will support their further growth and development.
    • The teacher knows how to select, construct, and use assessment strategies and instruments appropriate to the learning outcomes being evaluated and to other diagnostic purposes.
    • The teacher understands measurement theory and assessment-related issues, such as validity, reliability, bias, and scoring concerns.
  • Dispositions
    • The teacher values ongoing assessment as essential to the instructional process and recognizes that many different assessment strategies, accurately and systematically used, are necessary for monitoring and promoting student learning.
    • The teacher is committed to using assessment to identify student strengths and promote student growth rather than to deny students access to learning opportunities. 
  • Performances
    • The teacher appropriately uses a variety of formal and informal assessment techniques (e.g. observation, portfolios of student work, teacher-made tests, performance tasks, projects, student self-assessments, peer assessment, and standardized tests) to enhance her or his knowledge of learners, evaluate students' progress and performances, and modify teaching and learning strategies.
    • The teacher solicits and uses information about students' experiences, learning behavior, needs, and progress from parents, other colleagues, and the students themselves.
    • The teacher uses assessment strategies to involve learners in self-assessment activities, to help them become aware of their strengths and needs, and to encourage them to set personal goals for learning.
    • The teacher evaluates the effect of class activities on both individuals and the class as a whole, collecting information through observation of classroom interactions, questioning, and analysis of student work.
    • The teacher monitors his or her own teaching strategies and behavior in relation to student success, modifying plans and instructional approaches accordingly.
    • The teacher maintains useful records of student work and performance and can communicate student progress knowledgeably and responsibly, based on appropriate indicators, to students, parents, and other colleagues.

The Teacher is a Reflective Practitioner Who Continually Evaluates the Effects of his/her Choices and Actions on Others (Students, Parents, and Other Professionals in the Learning Community) and Who Actively Seeks Out Opportunities to Grow Professionally.

  • Knowledge
    • The teacher understands methods of inquiry that provide him/her with a variety of self- assessment and problem-solving strategies for reflecting on his/her practice, its influences on students' growth and learning, and the complex interactions between them.
    • The teacher is aware of major areas of research on teaching and of resources available for professional learning (e.g. professional literature, colleagues, professional associations, professional development activities).
  • Dispositions
    • The teacher values critical thinking and self-directed learning as habits of mind.
    • The teacher is committed to reflection, assessment, and learning as an ongoing process.
    • The teacher is willing to give and receive help.
    • The teacher is committed to seeking out, developing, and continually refining practices that address the individual needs of students.
    • The teacher recognizes his/her professional responsibility for engaging in and supporting appropriate professional practices for self and colleagues.
  • Performances
    • The teacher uses classroom observation, information about students, and research as sources for evaluating the outcomes of teaching and learning and as a basis for experimenting with, reflecting on, and revising practice.
    • The teacher seeks out professional literature, colleagues, and other resources to support his/her own development as a learner and a teacher.
    • The teacher draws upon professional colleagues within the school and other professional arenas as supports for reflection, problem-solving and new ideas, actively sharing experiences and seeking and giving feedback.

The Teacher Fosters Relationships with School Colleagues, Parents and Agencies in the Larger Community to Support Students' Learning and Well-Being.

  • Knowledge
    • The teacher understands schools as organizations within the larger community context and understands the operations of the relevant aspects of the system(s) within which s/he works.
    • The teacher understands how factors in the students' environment outside of school (e.g. family circumstances, community environments, health and economic conditions) may influence students' life and learning.
    • The teacher understands and implements laws related to students' rights and teacher responsibilities (e.g. for equal education, appropriate education for handicapped students, confidentiality, privacy, appropriate treatment of students, reporting in situations related to possible child abuse).
  • Dispositions
    • The teacher values and appreciates the importance of all aspects of a child's experience. 
    • The teacher is concerned about all aspects of a child's well-being (cognitive, emotional, social, and physical), and is alert to signs of difficulties.
    • The teacher is willing to consult with other adults regarding the education and well-being of his/her students.
    • The teacher respects the privacy of students and confidentiality of information.
    • The teacher is willing to work with other professionals to improve the overall learning environment for students.
  • Performances
    • The teacher participates in collegial activities designed to make the entire school a productive learning environment.
    • The teacher makes links with the learners' other environments on behalf of students, by consulting with parents, counselors, teachers of other classes and activities within the schools, and professionals in other community agencies.
    • The teacher can identify and use community resources to foster student learning.
    • The teacher establishes respectful and productive relationships with parents and guardians from diverse home and community situations, and seeks to develop cooperative partnerships in support of student learning and well being.
    • The teacher talks with and listens to the student, is sensitive and responsive to clues of distress, investigates situations, and seeks outside help as needed and appropriate to remedy problems.
    • The teacher acts as an advocate for students.