Teaching Standards

This document demonstrates how I understand and apply ten InTASC teaching standards, grouped into 4 broad topics. The InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards are developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers (2013). These standards include:

  1. Learner Development

  2. Learning Differences

  3. Learning Environments

  4. Content Knowledge

  5. Application of Content

  6. Assessment

  7. Planning for Instruction

  8. Instructional Strategies

  9. Professional Learning and Ethical Practice

  10. Leadership and Collaboration

I combined these standards into four broad topics:

  1. Lesson Planning (standards #4, #5, #7). This broad topic reflects how I plan lessons. For example, this topic reflects how I use learning standards to develop lesson activities, and how I accommodate learning needs of all students in my lesson plans.

  2. Student-Centered Teaching (standards #1, #2, #3, #8). This topic reflects four standards related to classroom teaching, including instruction of students with special needs and learning differences. In this section I review how I conduct lessons while creating a welcoming learning environment, using effective teaching strategies, implementing student-centered approaches, and helping students with different abilities.

  3. Assessment (standard #6). This topic considers one standard related to assessment. I discuss formative assessment (formal and informal) and summarize assessment, and show how I use multiple methods of assessment to monitor learners’ progress and modify my teaching.

  4. Professional Development (standards #9, #10). I integrate two standard that describe how I can grow professionally by learning more about teaching approaches and about subject area. This section also shows how I use collaboration with colleagues to improve my teaching skills and help my colleagues grow as well.

Lesson Planning

This topic covers standards #4, #5, and #7:

  • 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.

  • 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.


Quality teaching begins with careful planning. First, teachers must know well the content, teaching standards, and learning theories, and apply them to lesson planning. Second, teachers should know their students, and plan such instruction that benefits all students.

Each school subject has standards defined by the state and/or national government. For example, NCA Center (2021) outlines Math learning standards. These standards are accompanied by various process standards (e.g., "Reason abstractly and quantitatively"). Then these national standards are adapted by states that develop specific lessons, which can be used by teachers. For example in NY state, the state's Department of Education has developed the Engage NY curriculum. Engage NY curriculum reflects content knowledge and application of content according to state and national Math standards.

While teachers should help all students to meet rigorous Math standards, they can start lesson planning by using curricula such as Engage NY. Yet even rigorous curricula and lesson plans included in Engage NY or similar curricula should be adapted for specific learners and community context to make learning materials relevant to students' lives.

After two placements with elementary schools in Ithaca, NY, I realized that because students have learning differences, teachers must adapt standards and contents to engage all students. Sometimes it involves scaffolding, or differentiation by developing problem sets with different level of difficulty. Yet all students should have an opportunity to learn all required concepts and skills in each subject through materials and teaching approaches that are effective for them.

Artifact (PDF)

Artifacts include a 4th grade Math lesson plan (PDF file). The lesson title is "Use rounding in real-life!" This lesson is based on a constructivist and social learning perspectives, and builds on prior knowledge of learners. Although this lesson has some suggested elements from the NY Engage curriculum (New York State..., n.d.), most teaching ideas are my original ideas.

Math Lesson (PDF)


To make sure that all students achieve mastery of subject (in this example, it's rounding in 4th grade Math), I use several approaches: (1) Building on students' prior knowledge, (2) Connecting learning standards with process standards, (3) Use universal design principles such as representation, action and expression, and engagement, (4) Develop a plan to support students with IEP and 504 Plan, and (5) Connecting with students' real-life experiences.

For example, to connect content with students experiences, I developed problems that students can use in real life. In this Math lesson, I plan to ask students to imagine they go to grocery stores or other stores in Ithaca. Before they check out, they need to calculate in their head how much they will have to pay, approximately. Thus they will need to use rounding, which will help them to calculate the total payment. By connecting content knowledge with a real-life need, I hope to increase student's motivation to learn. At the same time, this approach helps students use constructivist learning (Cobb et al., 1992) by "discovering" Math ideas and their application.

To meet InTASC standards even better, in the future I plan to plan lessons that integrate content from different subjects. So far, in my teaching practice most individual lessons focused on one subject. I started to discover ways to integrate Math with discussion of ideas from Social Studies, and even ELA; and I'd like to integrate different subjects even more.

Math artifct.png

Student-Centered Teaching

This topic covers standards #1, #2, #3, #8:

  • 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 learning experiences.

  • Standard #2: Learning Differences. The teacher uses understanding of individual differences and diverse culture 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.

  • 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.


Although these four standards can be included in the "Planning" topic above, I integrate them in the "Student-Centered Teaching" because they all reflect students' experiences during instruction. In sum, these standards demonstrate that all learners are different; there is no one right way to teach all students. Teachers must respect and accommodate these differences (such as multiple intelligences, mental or physical disabilities, as well as the larger "ecological system" that according to Bronfenbrenner (1995) is influencing each learner. In urban schools with a great deal of linguistic, ethnic, and cultural differences, these principles are especially important.

Further, within this topic I would like to integrate creating an environment of care with instruction that focuses on students' current level of skills. If students know that teachers care about them, they will trust their teachers and will be more likely to feel less anxiety and learn better. At the same time, teachers should gently stretch their level of skills by giving them moderately challenging tasks - within the zone of proximal development, not too difficult and not too easy (Vygotsky, 1978). I think students with thrive then they experience these two factors - care and working on moderately challenging tasks.

Artifacts (website; culturally-relevant materials)

The main artifact in this category is this website about accommodating students with special needs through an IEP process, which I developed for my future school: http://alexruss.org/disability When I'm in a leadership position in a school, I can update this website, and use it to inform parents and communities about the IEP process. This website will also be a reminder for myself and other teachers that all students are different and we have to meet their learning needs.

Disability header.png

In addition, I'd like to document some artifacts that were implemented by special education teachers in my classrooms. These artifacts reflect student-centered teaching that is rarely practiced by general elementary teachers. I observed how they were used, and - although I don't have accreditation in special education - I can use similar approaches to cultivate the environment of care, and help students with different levels of intellectual development. The first artifact here was letter sorting in the first grade for a student with autism. The second artifact is a Mood Meter that helps students reflect their level of comfort or anxiety.

Disability alphabet.jpg
Mood meter.jpg


The key idea of this section is that teachers should do not what is convenient for them, but what creates the most effective learning environment for students. When I just started my first placement and began teaching lessons in the 4th grade, I made a mistake by trying teach all students strictly according to standards with little differentiation, and little regard for individual learning differences.


Over time, realized this was not effective; only 2-3 students in the whole classroom were learning quickly without any differentiation, and most students required individual approaches. Some students need a lot of scaffolding, encouragement, and frequent check-ins during each lesson. Other students are capable to learn fast, yet are affected by other factors that are outside my control (e.g., they came hungry to school, they did not sleep enough, or situations in their families are emotionally difficult), so I constantly have to adjust my teaching and navigate a complex environment of students' emotions, their current level of knowledge and skills, and differences in their interests.

Making these adaptations actual instruction intellectually challenging, yet rewarding. Last year I though that student-centered teaching is only about learning styles and multiple intelligences. But I realized that student-centered teaching is much more complex because it involves students' experiences in and outside school, emotional and caring environment in my classroom, trust among students and teacher.



This topic covers standard #6:

  • 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.


Learning assessment should be integrated into instruction. Formative assessment must be ongoing and be part of all lessons - including informal formative assessment, and more structured and documented assessments. Teachers should be able to use formative assessment to adjust lessons on the fly. In some ways, formative assessment is more important for student's than summative assessment because it allows teachers to make changes in their lessons and provide more effective instruction. However, summative assessment can also provide important data about how the whole class is doing, and provide information about which topics should be re-taught or reviewed with the whole class.


Given that students learn and show their knowledge differently ("multiple intelligences"), evaluation methods should gives every students to demonstrate their knowledge in a way that's comfortable for them. In addition, teachers should be aware of their biases in evaluating students' knowledge; one strategy to address it is to use detailed rubric, which helps evaluate all students equally. Finally, given cultural differences, students should be able to see themselves and their cultures reflected in all instructional materials, including assessment tools.


One of my students (4th grade) struggled with expressing ideas in the Rings of Culture assessment (see page 1 in this PDF). She could not easily relate to Dominican Republic culture. Thus I developed an assessment tool only for her and two other struggling students - which helped them compare their own culture with Dominican Republic culture. After this assessment, they completed Rings of Culture again, which was more successful than the first time. Thus I was able to implement a 2-step assessment, which, like scaffolding, helped students articulate relevant ideas.

Scaffolding assessment.pdf


My second artifact from the 4th grade is an essay composed in Google Docs. The mentor teacher said many students were not used to write essays of any length. However, I decided to set the bar high, and my students worked on essays during one week, which was successful for several students who used to struggle with any writing. I learned that we can raise our expectations for students' performance. We need to provide a lot of support, and then students can often surprise us with what they can learn. This screenshot shows one of students' essays, which was surprisingly good given that students have not written essays in the past. This example also shows an assessment (final essay) whose creation was integrated into daily instruction.


My final artifact is a video of my instruction. In this video try to conduct informal assessment as much as I can by asking students to contribute ideas, create links with prior knowledge, and "discover" ideas themselves through constructivist learning. At the end of the day, I found it was useful to quickly journal and informally reflect on students' strengths and weaknesses, and areas where I can enhance my instruction based on students' performance.


In the beginning of my teaching, I did not realize that formative assessment can be so powerful in informing my instruction. By the end of my first placement, I learned several approaches how to integrate assessment into my teaching. I actually love getting constant feedback from students' learning, which helps me adjust my lessons immediately. It makes my teaching more dynamic and fun.


I also learned that frequent formative assessment helps my students realize that their progress is always monitored and celebrated. Formative assessment (e.g., daily "problem sets" in Engage NY Math curriculum) can also offer opportunities to work with students individually: they solve problems, then to go recess while I evaluate their work, and while they have lunch I can come to some of them, and individually help them correct problems.


Professional Development

This topic covers standards #9 and #10:

  • 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.


Teacher education is never finished. We always get students with different demographics and learning needs, learning theories are evolving, new books about instruction are published, and social movements are influencing the topics that are important to teach. Thus, to be effective teachers, we always have to work on our instruction skills, ability to work with families and communities, and content knowledge. Ongoing teacher professional development is possible through:

  • Professional networks, conferences, webinars, and courses

  • Websites and magazines for teachers

  • Libraries, including a school's library

  • Books and research journals (original empirical and theoretical publications)

  • Exchange of ideas with colleagues within and outside your school

  • Teacher inquiry on topics of their interest


The artifact is my inquiry project on Human Rights Education in Elementary Schools. I became interested in this topic because most publication in this area discuss human rights education in middle- and high-school. However, I observed elements of human rights education in  4th and 1st grade, and I wanted to learn more about it. Thus I interviewed teachers, conducted classroom observations, reviewed relevant literature, and integrated them in this paper – which will help me strengthen human rights education in my future teaching in elementary schools.



I also want to share this photo in an elementary school's library. It demonstrates that teacher professional development can be conducted through networking with other teachers and librarians in your school. In this example, a librarian was interested in cultural representation and social justice – which are important topics for human rights education. By observing her library sessions, I was able to improve my own ideas about human rights education.

School library.png


Professional development can happen at any time - in a teachers' lounge, through an online course, or by journaling about your teaching at the end of the day. I think that some of the keys for professional development success is to realize our ignorance, seek for professional development opportunities, and always look for ways to improve our instruction.



  1. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1995). Developmental ecology through space and time: A future perspective.

  2. Cobb, P., Yackel, E., & Wood, T. (1992). A constructivist alternative to the representational view of mind in mathematics education. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education JRME, 23(1), 2-33.

  3. Council of Chief State School Officers (2013). InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards and Learning Progressions for Teachers 1.0. Washington, DC: CCSSO’s Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium.

    CCSSO 2013.pdf

  4. Lerman, S. (2001). Cultural, discursive psychology: A sociocultural approach to studying the teaching and learning of mathematics. Educational Studies in Mathematics 46, 87–113.

  5. Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370-96.

  6. New York State Education Department (n.d.). Engage NY: Grade 4 Mathematics. Available online: https://www.engageny.org/resource/grade-4-mathematics

  7. NGA Center (2021). Common core state standards for mathematics. Washington, DC: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

  8. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.