Standards of Effective Practice for Teachers

Adopted by the Minnesota Board of Teaching


A teacher must understand the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the disciplines taught and be able to create learning experiences that make these aspects of subject matter meaningful for students. The teacher must:

  1. understand major concepts, assumptions, debates, processes of inquiry, and ways of knowing that are central to the disciplines taught;
  2. understand how students’ conceptual frameworks and misconceptions for an area of knowledge can influence the students’ learning;
  3. connect disciplinary knowledge to other subject areas and to everyday life;
  4. understand that subject matter knowledge is not a fixed body of facts but is complex and ever developing;
  5. use multiple representations and explanations of subject matter concepts to capture key ideas and link them to students’ prior understandings;
  6. use varied viewpoints, theories, ways of knowing, and methods of inquiry in teaching subject matter concepts;
  7. evaluate teaching resources and curriculum materials for comprehensiveness, accuracy, and usefulness for presenting particular ideas and concepts;
  8. engage students in generating knowledge and testing hypotheses according to the methods of inquiry and standards of evidence used in the discipline;
  9. develop and use curricula that encourage students to understand, analyze, interpret, and apply ideas from varied perspectives; and
  10. design interdisciplinary learning experiences that allow students to integrate knowledge, skills, and methods of inquiry across several subject areas.


A teacher must understand how students learn and develop and must provide learning opportunities that support a student’s intellectual, social, and personal development. The teacher must:

  1. understand how students internalize knowledge, acquire skills, and develop thinking behaviors, and know how to use instructional strategies that promote student learning;
  2. understand that a student’s physical, social, emotional, moral, and cognitive development influence learning and know how to address these factors when making instructional decisions;
  3. understand developmental progressions of learners and ranges of individual variation within the physical, social, emotional, moral, and cognitive domains, be able to identify levels of readiness in learning, and understand how development in any one domain may affect performance in others;
  4. use a student’s strengths as a basis for growth, and a student’s errors as opportunities for learning;
  5. assess both individual and group performance and design developmentally appropriate instruction that meets the student’s current needs in the cognitive, social, emotional, moral, and physical domains;
  6. link new ideas to familiar ideas; make connections to a student’s experiences; provide opportunities for active engagement, manipulation, and testing of ideas and materials; and encourage students to assume responsibility for shaping their learning tasks; and
  7. use a student’s thinking and experiences as a resource in planning instructional activities by encouraging discussion, listening and responding to group interaction, and eliciting oral, written, and other samples of student thinking.


A teacher must understand how students differ in their approaches to learning and create instructional opportunities that are adapted to students with diverse backgrounds and exceptionalities. The teacher must:

  1. understand and identify differences in approaches to learning and performance, including varied learning styles and performance modes and multiple intelligences; and know how to design instruction that uses a student’s strengths as the basis for continued learning;
  2. know about areas of exceptionality in learning, including learning disabilities, perceptual difficulties, and special physical or mental challenges, gifts, and talents;
  3. know about the process of second language acquisition and about strategies to support the learning of students whose first language is not English;
  4. understand how to recognize and deal with dehumanizing biases, discrimination, prejudices, and institutional and personal racism and sexism;
  5. understand how a student’s learning is influenced by individual experiences, talents, and prior learning, as well as language, culture, family, and community values;
  6. understand the contributions and lifestyles of the various racial, cultural, and economic groups in our society;
  7. understand the cultural content, world view, and concepts that comprise Minnesota-based American Indian tribal government, history, language, and culture;
  8. understand cultural and community diversity; and know how to learn about and incorporate a student’s experiences, cultures, and community resources into instruction;
  9. understand that all students can and should learn at the highest possible levels and persist in helping all students achieve success;
  10. know about community and cultural norms;
  11. identify and design instruction appropriate to a student’s stages of development, learning styles, strengths, and needs;
  12. use teaching approaches that are sensitive to the varied experiences of students and that address different learning and performance modes;
  13. accommodate a student’s learning differences or needs regarding time and circumstances for work, tasks assigned, communication, and response modes;
  14. identify when and how to access appropriate services or resources to meet exceptional learning needs;
  15. use information about students’ families, cultures, and communities as the basis for connecting instruction to students’ experiences;
  16. bring multiple perspectives to the discussion of subject matter, including attention to a student’s personal, family, and community experiences and cultural norms; and
  17. develop a learning community in which individual differences are respected.


A teacher must understand and use a variety of instructional strategies to encourage student development of critical thinking, problem solving, and performance skills. The teacher must:

  1. understand Minnesota’s graduation standards and how to implement them;
  2. understand the cognitive processes associated with various kinds of learning and how these processes can be stimulated;
  3. understand principles and techniques, along with advantages and limitations, associated with various instructional strategies;
  4. enhance learning through the use of a wide variety of materials and human and technological resources;
  5. nurture the development of student critical thinking, independent problem solving, and performance capabilities;
  6. demonstrate flexibility and reciprocity in the teaching process as necessary for adapting instruction to student responses, ideas, and needs;
  7. design teaching strategies and materials to achieve different instructional purposes and to meet student needs including developmental stages, prior knowledge, learning styles, and interests;
  8. use 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 students assume responsibility for identifying and using learning resources;
  9. monitor and adjust strategies in response to learner feedback;
  10. vary the instructional processes to address the content and purposes of instruction and the needs of students;
  11. develop a variety of clear, accurate presentations and representations of concepts, using alternative explanations to assist students’ understanding and present varied perspectives to encourage critical thinking; and
  12. use educational technology to broaden student knowledge about technology, to deliver instruction to students at different levels and paces, and to stimulate advanced levels of learning.


A teacher must be able to use an understanding of individual and group motivation and behavior to create learning environments that encourage positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self-motivation. The teacher must:

  1. understand human motivation and behavior and draw from the foundational sciences of psychology, anthropology, and sociology to develop strategies for organizing and supporting individual and group work;
  2. understand how social groups function and influence people, and how people influence groups;
  3. know how to create learning environments that contribute to the self-esteem of all persons and to positive interpersonal relations;
  4. know how to help people work productively and cooperatively with each other in complex social settings;
  5. understand the principles of effective classroom management and use a range of strategies to promote positive relationships, cooperation, and purposeful learning in the classroom;
  6. know factors and situations that are likely to promote or diminish intrinsic motivation and how to help students become self-motivated;
  7. understand how participation supports commitment;
  8. establish a positive climate in the classroom and participate in maintaining a positive climate in the school as a whole;
  9. establish peer relationships to promote learning;
  10. recognize the relationship of intrinsic motivation to student lifelong growth and learning;
  11. use different motivational strategies that are likely to encourage continuous development of individual learner abilities;
  12. design and manage learning communities in which students assume responsibility for themselves and one another, participate in decision-making, work both collaboratively and independently, and engage in purposeful learning activities;
  13. engage students in individual and group learning activities that help them develop the motivation to achieve, by 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 and their learning;
  14. organize, allocate, and manage the resources of time, space, activities, and attention to provide active engagement of all students in productive tasks;
  15. maximize 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;
  16. develop expectations for student interactions, academic discussions, and individual and group responsibility that create a positive classroom climate of openness, mutual respect, support, inquiry, and learning;
  17. analyze the classroom environment and make decisions and adjustments to enhance social relationships, student motivation and engagement, and productive work; and
  18. organize, prepare students for, and monitor independent and group work that allows for full, varied, and effective participation of all individuals.


A teacher must be able to use knowledge of effective verbal, nonverbal, and media communication techniques to foster active inquiry, collaboration, and supportive interaction in the classroom. The teacher must:

  1. understand communication theory, language development, and the role of language in learning;
  2. understand how cultural and gender differences can affect communication in the classroom;
  3. understand the importance of nonverbal as well as verbal communication;
  4. know effective verbal, nonverbal, and media communication techniques;
  5. understand the power of language for fostering self-expression, identity development, and learning;
  6. use effective listening techniques;
  7. foster sensitive communication by and among all students in the class;
  8. use effective communication strategies in conveying ideas and information and in asking questions;
  9. support and expand learner expression in speaking, writing, and other media;
  10. know how to ask questions and stimulate discussion in different ways for particular purposes, including probing for learner understanding, helping students articulate their ideas and thinking processes, promoting productive risk-taking and problem-solving, facilitating factual recall, encouraging convergent and divergent thinking, stimulating curiosity, and helping students to question; and
  11. use a variety of media communication tools, including audiovisual aids and computers, including educational technology, to enrich learning opportunities.


A teacher must be able to plan and manage instruction based upon knowledge of subject matter, students, the community, and curriculum goals. The teacher must:

  1. understand learning theory, subject matter, curriculum development, and student development and know how to use this knowledge in planning instruction to meet curriculum goals;
  2. plan instruction using contextual considerations that bridge curriculum and student experiences;
  3. plan instructional programs that accommodate individual student learning styles and performance modes;
  4. create short-range and long-range plans that are linked to student needs and performance;
  5. plan instructional programs that accommodate individual student learning styles and performance modes;
  6. design lessons and activities that operate at multiple levels to meet the developmental and individual needs of students and to help all progress;
  7. implement learning experiences that are appropriate for curriculum goals, relevant to learners, and based on principles of effective instruction including activating student prior knowledge, anticipating preconceptions, encouraging exploration and problem solving, and building new skills on those previously acquired; and
  8. evaluate plans in relation to short-range and long-range goals, and systematically adjust plans to meet student needs and enhance learning.


A teacher must understand and be able to use formal and informal assessment strategies to evaluate and ensure the continuous intellectual, social, and physical development of the student. The teacher must:

  1. be able to assess student performance toward achievement of the Minnesota graduation standards under chapter 3501;
  2. understand the characteristics, uses, advantages, and limitations of different types of assessments including criterion-referenced and norm-referenced instruments, traditional standardized and performance-based tests, observation systems, and assessments of student work;
  3. understand the purpose of and differences between assessment and evaluation;
  4. understand measurement theory and assessment-related issues, including validity, reliability, bias, and scoring concerns;
  5. select, construct, and use assessment strategies, instruments, and technology appropriate to the learning outcomes being evaluated and to other diagnostic purposes;
  6. use assessment to identify student strengths and promote student growth and to maximize student access to learning opportunities;
  7. use varied and appropriate formal and informal assessment techniques including observation, portfolios of student work, teacher-made tests, performance tasks, projects, student self-assessments, peer assessment, and standardized tests;
  8. use assessment data and other information about student experiences, learning behaviors, needs and progress to increase knowledge of students, evaluate student progress and performance, and modify teaching and learning strategies;
  9. implement students’ self-assessment activities to help them identify their own strengths and needs and to encourage them to set personal goals for learning;
  10. evaluate the effect of class activities on both individuals and the class as a whole using information gained through observation of classroom interactions, questioning, and analysis of student work;
  11. monitor teaching strategies and behaviors in relation to student success to modify plans and instructional approaches to achieve student goals;
  12. establish and maintain student records of work and performance; and
  13. responsibly communicate student progress based on appropriate indicators to students, parents or guardians, and other colleagues.


A teacher must be a reflective practitioner who continually evaluates the effects of choices and actions on others, including students, parents, and other professionals in the learning community, and who actively seeks out opportunities for professional growth. The teacher must:

  1. understand the historical and philosophical foundations of education;
  2. understand methods of inquiry, self-assessment, and problem-solving strategies of use in professional self-assessment;
  3. understand the influences of the teacher’s behavior on student growth and learning;
  4. know major areas of research on teaching and of resources available for professional development;
  5. understand the role of reflection and self-assessment on continual learning;
  6. understand the value of critical thinking and self-directed learning;
  7. understand professional responsibility and the need to engage in and support appropriate professional practices for self and colleagues;
  8. use classroom observation, information about students, and research as sources for evaluating the outcomes of teaching and learning and as a basis for reflecting on and revising practice;
  9. use professional literature, colleagues, and other resources to support development as both a student and a teacher;
  10. collaboratively use 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;
  11. understand standards of professional conduct in the Code of Ethics for Minnesota Teachers in part 8700.7500; and
  12. understand the responsibility for obtaining and maintaining licensure, the role of the teacher as a public employee, and the purpose and contributions of educational organizations.


A teacher must be able to communicate and interact with parents or guardians, families, school colleagues, and the community to support student learning and well-being. The teacher must:

  1. understand schools as organizations within the larger community context and understand the operations of the relevant aspects of the systems within which the teacher works;
  2. understand how factors in a student’s environment outside of school, including family circumstances, community environments, health, and economic conditions, may influence student life and learning;
  3. understand student rights and teacher responsibilities to equal education, appropriate education for students with disabilities, confidentiality, privacy, appropriate treatment of students, and reporting in situations of known or suspected abuse or neglect;
  4. understand the concept of addressing the needs of the whole learner;
  5. understand the influence of use and misuse of tobacco, alcohol, drugs, and other chemicals on student life and learning;
  6. understand data practices;
  7. collaborate with other professionals to improve the overall learning environment for students;
  8. collaborate in activities designed to make the entire school a productive learning environment;
  9. consult with parents, counselors, teachers of other classes and activities within the school, and professionals in other community agencies to link student environments;
  10. identify and use community resources to foster student learning;
  11. establish productive relationships with parents and guardians in support of student learning and well-being; and
  12. understand mandatory reporting laws and rules.