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Content Knowledge

The fourth standard of the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, Content Knowledge, states that teachers create meaningful learning experiences based on their understanding of central topics, tools of inquiry, and the structures of the discipline s/he is expected to teach. The purpose of this standard is to ensure students have access to a pathway for learning which is guided by an instructor who possesses both mastery of content and the ability to lead their students’ learning experiences towards successful comprehension of subject-matter by using diverse, effective tools and strategies to meet the various learning needs of all students.

Excelling in all the courses in the Master of Arts in Teaching with licensure program at Hollins University is one strategy in which I have demonstrated content knowledge. The MAT program is designed to prepare students for careers in teaching and includes a rigorous curriculum with several methodology courses that require completion of various types of practicum work as well as a student teaching period at the conclusion of the program. The academic goals and objectives outlined in this program are aligned with the intended endorsement area to ensure students are getting the subject-specific content knowledge necessary for them to become successful educators in their field of study.

Additionally, I have demonstrated content knowledge through the successful completion of the RVE, Praxis, and VCLA exams. These exams measure academic skills in reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies. They also measure content knowledge of subject-specific skills needed for teaching elementary education. I’ve also accumulated several hundred hours of teaching experience through the internship and student teaching portion of the MAT program, which has given me the opportunity to try various strategies of teaching to determine which methods students are most receptive to. As a result, I have been able to more effectively use my content knowledge to ensure students are indeed learning the intended objectives.


Active membership in the International Honor Society, Kappa Delta Pi, whose goal is to encourage quality learning by giving educators the means to implement research-based strategies, continue professional growth, assume leadership, and become master teachers, is another component in my repertoire for demonstrating content knowledge. I am a member of several other relevant groups including the National Education Association, the National Science Teachers Association, and the National Honor Society, Phi Theta Kappa. I also hold an Associate of Applied Science with a specialization in education from Virginia Western Community College as well as a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies from The University of Virginia, which are additional, critical personal experiences I’ve used to build a strong foundation of content knowledge for teaching elementary education.

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Learning Environments

The third standard of the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, Learning Environments, states that teachers must work together to design learning environments that foster individual and group learning, use strategies to actively engage students in the learning process, and promote self-motivation as well as healthy social interactions in a shared learning environment. The purpose of this standard is to ensure that all students are provided with a safe place to learn and that all of the components of the student’s academic, behavioral, and social well-being are respected, nourished, and promoted through their learning experiences.

The first step in creating such an environment begins with a proactive teacher collaborating with members of the academic community to determine student’s needs. Prior to the school year, safety guidelines, rules and procedures, a crisis action plan, and a generalized understanding of how the classroom is expected to function as a whole, as well as identifying the roles of each individual member of the class must be a priority. During my internship experience at Berkeley Glenn Elementary School, I developed a classroom management plan which included a purpose statement, procedures, consequences, a crisis plan, and an action plan, as well as five easy to understand rules shown to the right. After collaborating with my supervising teacher, I developed these rules to help build a foundation for a learning environment that promotes responsibility, accountability, positive interactions, safety, and respect for others [Performances 3(A)&3(C)].

Additionally, teachers must learn how to communicate with students in a manner that demonstrates responsiveness to cultural diversity and differing learning perspectives to ensure the needs of all members of the classroom are being met in their learning environment [Performances 3(F)]. Furthermore, teachers must collaborate with the student to develop interpersonal skills which allow the student to grow and develop into effective communicators while increasing their learning capacity [Performances 3(H)]. In this image, I can be seen working one-on-one with a student in a shared learning environment that has been designed to give everyone not only a sense of safety and comfort, but extensive efforts were made to make sure learning can take place, regardless of the student’s diverse academic, cultural, and social needs.

Another component of Learning Environments includes the teacher understanding the relationship between engagement and motivation and uses this knowledge to create learning activities that build self-direction and gives students the opportunities to take ownership of their learning [Essential Knowledge 3(I)]. One strategy I have used to meet this criterion includes guiding students through reader’s theatre activities in which a group of students will perform for another class the materials they’ve been reading and acting with me each week. The image above shows a group of fifth-grade students performing for the members of my fourth-grade classroom. Students are often thrilled to show what they’ve learned to their peers and it helps them become increasingly more comfortable in their learning environments.

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Learning Differences

Standard Two of the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium states that teachers must take into consideration the diverse individual needs of students while being conscious of their cultural and communal identities to ensure all learners are afforded an inclusive environment that allows students to meet high standards. Below is a collection of evidence and artifacts that demonstrate my ability to incorporate the elements of Learning Differences into my instructional strategies and learning environment.

Taking time throughout the school day to work with a single student or a small group of people based on their individual learning strengths and needs is a critical strategy I use to ensure I’m meeting the criteria for Learning Differences [Performances 2(A)]. In the image to the right, I’m working with a small group of students with various individual needs, and in preparing their academic materials, I took extensive efforts in making sure the goals and objectives were aligned with their rates of growth,  task capabilities, and expected response modes [Performaces 2(B)]. Additionally, I’ve collaborated with the special needs and English language learner (ELL) instructors to ensure these students are receiving the appropriate instruction in an environment that effectively promotes learning [Performances 2(E&F].


Teachers must also recognize and identify the different approaches to learning and subsequently design instruction that promotes academic and social growth, especially for those with learning disabilities and gifted students [Essential Knowledge 2(G&H). In this image, both gifted and disabled students are working on tasks that are appropriate for their instructional zone of proximal development in a shared learning environment, promoting the specialized academic and social growth of all individuals [Essential Knowledge 2(J)].


Understanding learning differences also requires teachers to take a proactive approach in consistently seeking out knowledge about how various conditions may impact the ability of a student to learn. One strategy for ensuring I’m cognizant of individual learning needs has been completing several training modules on dyslexia awareness, child abuse and neglect, and the effects of trauma on learning. During my time as an instructional aid, I have also had the pleasure of learning about a very special, special needs student – Dax, pictured to the right. I work with him daily to ensure I am meeting the goals of his IEP and providing a safe and healthy environment for him to learn and grow in.  As an aspiring teacher, I intend to ensure every student in my classroom is respected, nurtured, and encouraged to be the best version of themselves regardless of differences or disabilities [Critical Dispositions 2(F, M,&N)]. Furthermore, I will create a learning environment where all members of the class learn the value of diversity and inclusivity in order to establish a cohesive environment where academic and social growth can blossom [Critical Dispositions 2(O)].

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Learner Development

Standard One: Learner Development

The first standard of the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, Learner Development, states that teachers must have comprehensive knowledge of how students grow and develop and be mindful of the various cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, and physical components of learner development that are unique to every individual student. Using this knowledge, teachers must then align their teaching methods and curriculum to most effectively meet the academic, social, environmental, and behavioral needs of students to enhance their overall learning experience.

One method I’ve utilized to demonstrate the components of the Learner Development Standard is spending a great deal of time working one-on-one with students in order to determine their specific academic, social, and cognitive needs [Performances 1(A)]. This image depicts myself working with a special needs student who has benefitted from specially designed classwork that I constructed to meet his developmental needs by using strategies that capture his individual interests [Performances 1(B)]. I also spent time collaborating with the student’s classroom and special needs teachers to gain insight into what methods and strategies should be used to promote this learner’s growth and development [Performances 1(C)].

Additionally, I develop lesson plans using  Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences to ensure a variety of strategies are used to meet the unique academic learning styles of all students in the classroom. Employing this method demonstrates an understanding of how learning occurs [Essential Knowledge 1(D)] as well as how to make instructional decisions that engage learners’ strengths and meets their varying needs (Essential Knowledge 1(E)]. This image includes artifacts from a lesson plan that included six of Gardner’s eight multiple intelligences – visual/spatial, linguistic/verbal, interpersonal, logical/mathematical, intrapersonal, and bodily/kinesthetic.

I also have extensive experience using various assessment strategies to identify readiness for learning [Essential Knowledge 1(F)]. One example of such an assessment is presented to the right, which indicates that the materials chosen for the student’s assessment were at the appropriate instructional zone. Other methods I’ve utilized for determining student readiness for learning include both formal assessments such as conducting Phonological Awareness Literacy Screenings and Developmental Spelling Assessments, as wells as informal strategies that include discussions with students, teachers, families, counselors, and other specialists who have insight into the student’s learning capabilities and unique individual needs. Using various strategies to determine a student’s readiness for learning is a critical component of Learner Development and as an aspiring teacher, I intend to use all the strategies at my disposal to differentiate instruction to meet the cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, and physical needs of the students in my classroom.

For a more detailed look into learner development, please click the link below: