The Learner and Learning
Teaching begins with the learner. To ensure that each student learns new knowledge and skills, teachers must understand
that learning and developmental patterns vary among individuals, that learners bring unique individual differences to the
learning process, and that learners need supportive and safe learning environments to thrive. Effective teachers have high
expectations for each and every learner and implement developmentally appropriate, challenging learning experiences
within a variety of learning environments that help all learners meet high standards and reach their full potential. Teachers
do this by combining a base of professional knowledge, including an understanding of how cognitive, linguistic, social,
emotional, and physical development occurs, with the recognition that learners are individuals who bring differing personal
and family backgrounds, skills, abilities, perspectives, talents and interests. Teachers collaborate with learners, colleagues,
school leaders, families, members of the learners’ communities, and community organizations to better understand their
students and maximize their learning. Teachers promote learners’ acceptance of responsibility for their own learning and
collaborate with them to ensure the effective design and implementation of both self-directed and collaborative learning.
Standard #1: Learner Development. The teacher understands how learners grow and develop, recognizing
that patterns of learning and development vary individually within and across the cognitive, linguistic, social,
emotional, and physical areas, and designs and implements developmentally appropriate and challenging
Standard #2: Learning Differences. The teacher uses understanding of individual differences and diverse cultures
and communities to ensure inclusive learning environments that enable each learner to meet high standards.
Standard #3: Learning Environments. The teacher works with others to create environments that support
individual and collaborative learning, and that encourage positive social interaction, active engagement in
learning, and self motivation.
Teachers must have a deep and flexible understanding of their content areas and be able to draw upon content
knowledge as they work with learners to access information, apply knowledge in real world settings, and address
meaningful issues to assure learner mastery of the content. Today’s teachers make content knowledge accessible to
learners by using multiple means of communication, including digital media and information technology. They integrate
cross-disciplinary skills (e.g., critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, communication) to help learners use content to
propose solutions, forge new understandings, solve problems, and imagine possibilities. Finally, teachers make content
knowledge relevant to learners by connecting it to local, state, national, and global issues.
Standard #4: Content Knowledge. The teacher understands the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and
structures of the discipline(s) he or she teaches and creates learning experiences that make the discipline
accessible and meaningful for learners to assure mastery of the content.
Standard #5: Application of Content. The teacher understands how to connect concepts and use differing
perspectives to engage learners in critical thinking, creativity, and collaborative problem solving related to
authentic local and global issues.
Effective instructional practice requires that teachers understand and integrate assessment, planning, and
instructional strategies in coordinated and engaging ways. Beginning with their end or goal, teachers first identify
student learning objectives and content standards and align assessments to those objectives. Teachers understand
how to design, implement and interpret results from a range of formative and summative assessments. This
knowledge is integrated into instructional practice so that teachers have access to information that can be used to
provide immediate feedback to reinforce student learning and to modify instruction. Planning focuses on using a
variety of appropriate and targeted instructional strategies to address diverse ways of learning, to incorporate new
technologies to maximize and individualize learning, and to allow learners to take charge of their own learning and
do it in creative ways.
Standard #6: Assessment. The teacher understands and uses multiple methods of assessment to engage learners
in their own growth, to monitor learner progress, and to guide the teacher’s and learner’s decision making.
Standard #7: Planning for Instruction. The teacher plans instruction that supports every student in meeting
rigorous learning goals by drawing upon knowledge of content areas, curriculum, cross-disciplinary skills, and
pedagogy, as well as knowledge of learners and the community context.
Standard #8: Instructional Strategies. The teacher understands and uses a variety of instructional strategies to
encourage learners to develop deep understanding of content areas and their connections, and to build skills
to apply knowledge in meaningful ways.
Creating and supporting safe, productive learning environments that result in learners achieving at the highest levels
is a teacher’s primary responsibility. To do this well, teachers must engage in meaningful and intensive professional
learning and self-renewal by regularly examining practice through ongoing study, self-reflection, and collaboration.
A cycle of continuous self-improvement is enhanced by leadership, collegial support, and collaboration. Active
engagement in professional learning and collaboration results in the discovery and implementation of better
practice for the purpose of improved teaching and learning. Teachers also contribute to improving instructional
practices that meet learners’ needs and accomplish their school’s mission and goals. Teachers benefit from and
participate in collaboration with learners, families, colleagues, other school professionals, and community members.
Teachers demonstrate leadership by modeling ethical behavior, contributing to positive changes in practice, and
advancing their profession.
Standard #9: Professional Learning and Ethical Practice. The teacher engages in ongoing professional
learning and uses evidence to continually evaluate his/her practice, particularly the effects of his/her
choices and actions on others (learners, families, other professionals, and the community), and adapts
practice to meet the needs of each learner.
Standard #10: Leadership and Collaboration. The teacher seeks appropriate leadership roles and
opportunities to take responsibility for student learning, to collaborate with learners, families,
colleagues, other school professionals, and community members to ensure learner growth, and to
advance the profession.