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 institutes, and national educational organizations dedicated to the reform of the education, licensing and on-going professional development of teachers.

Created in 1987, INTASC’s primary constituency is state education agencies responsible for teacher licensing and professional development. Its work is guided by one basic premise: an effective teacher must be able to integrate content knowledge with pedagogical understanding to assure that all students learn and perform at high levels.

Various committees of practicing teachers, teacher educators, school leaders, and state agency staff crafted INTASC’s standards, which articulate what all beginning teachers should know and be able to do to teach effectively. The various committees’ missions were to take the INTASC core standards and translate them into appropriate policy for the teacher licensing system…INTASC’s hope is that states will agree with and honor the values in the model standards, and in this way move us toward consensus and compatible educational policies around what good teaching looks like and how it can be assessed.

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INTASC Core principles:

1. Content Pedagogy

The teacher understands the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline he or she teaches and can create learning experiences that make these aspects of subject matter meaningful for students.

It is funny that for a very long time I had this love of history that I couldn’t explain.  I knew it mattered, but didn’t know why and certainly couldn’t explain it to someone else.  I have learned many things about history since restarting my college career, and one of those things is the why.  For so long, history has been taught as a string of names and dates on a timeline that mean nothing to people sitting in a classroom hundreds of years later and even less after they leave that classroom.  However, embedded within those names and dates are real people – people as human as the students. By studying these people as ordinary humans, we can rid them of the mystique that has surrounded them for decades and students can understand that they themselves are capeable of actions just as honorable or even dishonorable.  There are also recurring themes in history that can help one understand human interactions in a way that will help them make sense of the world around them.  Civil rights, Civil disobedience, justice, violence, war and economic development are only a few of the themes that permeate throughout human history and to study those will give the student a sense that they are not alone in the struggles of their world.  Teaching history in broad concepts can evoke critical thinking skills that will help the student deal with global problems as adults – something that I was not taught as a high school student.  If the students know going into the world that there are problems to deal with, I believe they will become less cynical in dealing with them than if they are taught how wonderful their world is and find out later that that is not true at all.   History students in college are taught to grapple with abstract concepts, how to research information, how to be critical of their government and the world around them and I believe that by bringing some of that to the high school level and lessening the emphasis on faceless names and meaningless dates that history will take on a whole new relevance for the student.

2. Student Development

The teacher understands how children learn and develop, and can provide learning opportunities that support a child's intellectual, social, and personal development.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of my job as a Social Studies teacher will be to introduce abstract concepts to students who are just beginning to enter Piaget’s formal operation stage.  I am well aware that the different intellectual, physical and emotional stages and abilities of my students will make it difficult to teach the same concept.  I believe, however, that by using varied activities like group presentations, artwork and writing assignments over the standard testing method assessment will allow certain students to shine at different times and thus leveling the playing field for many.  Aside from exercising the different abilities of students, the content in my methods of assessment will only be half of the grade.  I plan to use individual student improvement to determine much of the grade that student receives.  Writing is a very big part of history and it is equally important in life that a person can express himself or herself adequately.  The one easy part of my work in assessing student progress will be in detecting improvements in writing.  I plan on putting much effort in helping students who may not have that particular talent develop the skill to a level in which writing will become a tool for them to succeed in real life situations.

3. Diverse Learners

The teacher understands how students differ in their approaches to learning and creates instructional opportunities that are adapted to diverse learners.

For so many years, our school system has catered to the linguistic and logical learner without even considering the needs of those who learn either visually, audibly, through movement and hands on experiences, or even through rhythm and music and personal analysis.  While there is no way that I know of to combine all of these individual intelligences in every lesson, there are ways to incorporate all of them at least some of the time in my assessment.  Requiring group presentations, construction of original pieces, role playing and interviewing (to name a few) will give those students possessing abilities not usually valued in schools a chance to shine and will level the playing field with those students who possess the intelligences that are suited for the traditional classroom environment.

4. Multiple Instructional Strategies

The teacher understands and uses a variety of instructional strategies to encourage student development of critical thinking, problem solving, and performance skills.

So many history classes have been and are being taught through lecture and passive learning.  Although there is no doubt in my mind that lecture certainly has its place in the Social Studies classroom, there are many other ways to teach the subject and they are instrumental in helping students develop critical thinking skills and learning abstract concepts.  By connecting recurring themes in history and relating them to present day situations, class discussions seem to me to be the best way to help students develop.  If done right, class discussions force students to think through their attitudes and feelings on a topic and apply knowledge in order to defend an opinion and then forces them to respect the opinions of others by listening and then thinking it over in order to logically rebut another’s argument.  How many adults have you met that you wished had that skill?  These are not goals for college bound students – they are goals for all students.

5. Motivation and Management

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.

As a student, one of my favorite methods was class discussion.  As a teacher, I plan to use that method extensively.  Lessons in which I have incorporated class discussion are my favorite because they force the students to make judgments based on their own interpretation of primary and secondary sources and background information that I have given them (a chance to actually use lecture material in making decisions).  It is my hope that the many different kinds of information the students receive through discussion will develop an appreciation for the human variables surrounding historical events and further develop the concept of historical truth in their minds as well as how different people use the same information to reach different conclusions.  The students are motivated to participate because they want their views to be heard, and therefore are forced to develop critical thinking skills by thinking through a topic and finding solid reasons to back up their argument.  There is also an element of competition, but is controlled in such a way that students must respect each other.  Students will be evaluated daily for participation in classroom discussions according to the amount of times they offer to participate and the quality of the response.  I also plan on requiring several research papers.  Writing is an essential element in daily life and I expect my students to be able to do it well.  A project of that magnitude may seem daunting at first, but I believe the students will work for me as long as they know that I will not let them fail.  By requiring different stages of the paper to be handed in little by little, I will hopefully shape good habits and instill a self-confidence and pride in the students who never dreamed they had the ability to accomplish such a task and sharpen the skills of the student who already had a knowledge of the process or a talent for it.  Once they feel that sense of accomplishment, I believe there will be no stopping them.

6. Communication and Technology

The teacher uses knowledge of effective verbal, nonverbal, and media communication techniques to foster active inquiry, collaboration, and supportive interaction in the classroom.

I feel like the most efficient means of portraying historical documents and other related medium is to simply show them to the student and let them make their own observations and conclusions – this develops necessary critical thinking skills that are so rare in many of our classrooms.  Much of the lessons I have developed so far use overheads extensively.  Instead of just telling them about the newspapers and broadsides of the time the class is exploring, such as propaganda during the colonial era or WWII, etc, I can show them.  In this case, a picture is really worth a thousand words and visual medium is wonderful for facilitating a class discussion.  In just one broadside or newspaper front page, one can address how to analyze primary sources, the concept of historical truth and interpretation, and the tactics publishers and printers use to persuade the general public.

7. Planning

The teacher plans instruction based upon knowledge of subject matter, students, the community, and curriculum goals.

Planning is so very important to a favorable outcome in the classroom.  The more knowledge a person has about the content they are teaching, the better they are able to convey that material to the student and, I have found, the easier learning strategies and activities come to that teacher.  There is much emphasis placed on knowing how to teach anything, and while knowledge of teaching strategies is certainly necessary, a broad understanding of the content makes the planning process much more natural.  With the implementation of government standards and high stakes testing, combined with the tightly scheduled school day, knowledge of curriculum goals is essential to ensure that the student is learning what he or she is expected to learn.  Knowledge of the community can be used in helping a teacher chose what concepts or topics would be considered more valuable to parents and help in finding outside resources such as museums, local heroes, or library and historical society projects relevant to the lesson.  Lastly, knowledge of the students may be by far the most important.  If a student does not have the prior knowledge or skills necessary to process the lesson you are trying to teach, than that lesson is wasted.  Not only is it more efficient in knowing student entry levels, developmental stages and learning styles, but it also promotes a feeling of acceptance within the student that can foster a learning relationship for both student and teacher.

8. Assessment

The teacher understands and uses formal and informal assessment strategies to evaluate and ensure the continuous intellectual, social, and physical development of the learner.

Assessment should be based equally on content and improvement of critical thinking, discussion, writing and verbal skills.  Concepts such as the whys of history, time, cause and effect and other abstract concepts should be valued over detailed names and dates.  If assessment is broadened from regurgitation of content to writing, presenting, and critical thinking skills, it will cover a broader cross section of the student population and hopefully level the playing field for students of all abilities and ways of learning.  A bigger concern is that the student can think critically of the world around them rather than if they know the names of obscure historical characters.

9. Reflective Practice: Professional Growth

The teacher is a reflective practitioner who continually evaluates the effects of his or her choices and actions on others (students, parents, and other professionals in the learning community) and who actively seeks out opportunities to grow professionally.

Having children is definitely an advantage for me in the sense that it is a crash course in unselfish behavior.  Being a parent constantly forces you to evaluate not only your parenting choices, but also your own actions.  As a mother, I am constantly astounded at how one strategy may work one minute and crash and burn the next or with the other child.  I fully expect the same in my classroom, multiplied of course by as many students as I find myself responsible for.   I have always been one to speak or act before I thought and have learned many lessons from that personality trait and how it affects not only how people see me, but also how I see my environment and my relationships with others.   I have no doubt that I will be doing an immense amount of planning the first few years I am in my own classroom, mostly because it will take that long to become familiar with the subtleties and mannerisms of the human, student-teacher interactions.  That is not to say that it will all stop once I gain the type of experience necessary to make these interactions smoother.  One of the reasons I got into teaching was because, despite some impulsive characteristics when dealing with people, I am a very social person and teaching is one career in which you are constantly talking to people.  Another reason was that a teacher is in a constant learning environment.  There are many things the student can teach the teacher.   Teaching fits my personality because it keeps one constantly thinking about one thing or another so there is never any room for intellectual boredom.  Many think that science and technology are the only fields in which one must stay current, but there are many new interpretations of historical events and constant new ways of looking at things.  I fully plan to further my education at every chance, eventually earning a PhD in history.  I enjoy learning very much, and I am hopeful that particular trait will carry over smoothly from the college setting to the professional one.

10. School and Community Involvement

The teacher fosters relationships with school colleagues, parents, and agencies in the larger community to support students' learning and well-being.

The parent-teacher relationship is one of the most powerful alliances a student has on their side.  When developed fully, these two individuals can push a student farther than they ever thought they were capable of.  Too often, however, that relationship is non-existent unless there is a problem with student progress.  Community service projects involving historical sites or the senior citizen community can both increase awareness of the human aspects of historical events for students and foster a better relationship between the community and their adolescent citizens.



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