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Utah Effective Teaching Standards - Glossary

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Academic Language
Academic language, tied to specific subject area disciplines, captures – through vocabulary, grammar, and organizational strategies – the complex ideas, higher- order thinking processes, and abstract concepts of the discipline. It is the language used in classrooms, textbooks, and formal presentations in a subject area and differs in structure and vocabulary from everyday spoken English.
When a teacher advocates within the educational setting, he or she speaks or writes in defense or support of a student, the school, or education in general in order to build support, bring positive attention, or raise awareness.
Analysis, Synthesis, Decision-making
Analysis, synthesis, and decision-making are higher-order thinking skills that give students the ability to think clearly in diverse situations. Mastery of thinking skills allows students to tackle higher-order learning tasks and to achieve critical understandings as they tackle life’s challenges.
Apply Content Knowledge
The application of content knowledge requires that content knowledge be connected to the student’s existing knowledge, personal experience, cultural background, and learning profile.
Assessment is the productive process of monitoring, measuring, evaluating, documenting, reflecting on, and adjusting teaching and learning to ensure students reach high levels of achievement. Assessment systems need to include both formative and summative assessment processes aligned with instructional and curricular goals and objectives. Formative assessment finding should be used as a continuous feedback loop to improve teaching and learning. Summative assessment results should be used to make final decisions about gains in knowledge and skills.
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Classroom Environment
The classroom environment is influenced by the guidelines established for its operation, its users, and its physical elements. Teachers greatly influence the operation of their classrooms. Effective teachers expertly manage and organize their classroom and expect their students to contribute in a positive and productive manner. Classroom environment can have as much impact of student learning as student aptitude.
Collaboration is a style of interaction between individuals engaged in shared decision making as they work toward a common goal. Individuals who collaborate have equally valued personal or professional resources to contribute and they share decision-making authority and accountability for outcomes.
Collaborative Learning
Collaborative learning is a style of interaction between learners and between learners and teachers engaged in shared decision making as they work toward a common goal.
Content Knowledge
Content knowledge includes not only a particular set of information, but also the framework for organizing information and processes for working with it.
Cross-Disciplinary Skills
Cross-disciplinary skills 1) allow learners to probe content deeply, 2) connect academic disciplines to one another, 3) can be applied to and may be used differently within various fields, and 4) should be taught explicitly in the context of a given content area. These skills include critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, effective oral and written communication, assessing and analyzing information, as well as adaptability, creativity, initiative, and entrepreneurialism.
Cultural Norms
Cultural norms are the agreed-upon expectations and rules by which a culture guides the behavior of its members in any given situation. Norms vary widely across cultural groups and greatly affect the response students and parents have to a particular school culture. Professional educators become aware of and respond to the cultural norms of their students in order to provide effective instruction and appropriate interactions.
Cultural Relevance
Cultural relevance is evident through the integration of cultural knowledge, prior experiences, and performance styles of diverse learners to make learning more appropriate and effective for them; it teachers to and through the strengths of these learners. Culturally relevant instruction integrates a wide variety of instructional strategies that are connected to different approaches to learning.
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Learner data are factual, evidentiary forms of information about individuals or groups of learners that are collected, documented, organized, and analyzed for the purpose of making decisions about teaching and learning. Examples of learner data include, but are not limited to 1) learner demographics and background information, 2) documented information about learning needs and prior performance, 3) learner class work, homework, and other formal and informal works produced by the learner, 4) progress charts, records and anecdotal teacher notes from formative assessments and/or classroom observations, 5) end-of-unit teacher-developed tests or summative performances and course grades, and 6) external test scores.
Descriptive Feedback
Descriptive feedback means effectively communicating to students where they are doing well and where they need improvement. Effective educators use a variety of communication techniques to foster inquiry, collaboration, and provide accurate feedback in and beyond the classroom.
Developmentally Appropriate
Developmentally appropriate teaching practice includes responding to a child's social/emotional, physical, and cognitive development by basing teaching practices and decisions on theories of child development, individually identified strengths and needs of each child uncovered through authentic assessment, and the child's cultural background as defined by his community, family history, and family structure.
Differentiation occurs when the teacher responds to individual students' readiness, interest, and mode of learning often enough and in enough ways to support each student's engagement with and understanding of essential content goals. Teachers can modify content, process, and product in response to student's needs. Purposeful modifications of these elements, informed by ongoing assessment information, enhance the likelihood of each student's academic success.
Diverse Learners
Diverse learners are learners in a group or organization who represent a wide variety of ethnicity, culture, ability, language, socio-economic background, or gender and inclusive of individual differences such as personality, interests, learning modalities, and life experience.
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Engage Students
Time on task is directly correlated with student achievement. On-task students are involved in their learning; thus, effective teachers seek ways to enhance student involvement in learning. Effective teachers involve all students in learning, encourage students to apply, interpret, and integrate new information into what they already know, relate content to what students are interested in, and support students to see the value in learning.
English Language Learner (ELL)
English language learners are students who are not native speakers of English. Also referred to as ELs (English learners), ESL (English as a second language) students, and LEP (limited English proficiency) students.
English Language Proficiency (ELP)
English language proficiency is a measure of the English skills of students who are not native speakers of English.
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Formative Assessment
Assessment is a process used by teachers and learners that provides a continuous stream of evidence of learner growth, empowering teachers to adjust instruction and learners to adjust learning to improve student achievement. Formative assessment requires clear articulation and communication of intended instructional outcomes and criteria for success, ongoing descriptive feedback, the use of assessment evidence to make adjustments to teaching and learning, self- and peer-assessment that promote learner awareness of growth and needed improvement, and a partnership between teachers and learners that holds both parties accountable for learner achievement and success.
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Higher-order Thinking Skills
Higher-order thinking skills are the skills learners need to perform challenging learning tasks as well as for thinking clearly in diverse situations. Higher-order thinking skills are application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation as defined in Bloom’s Taxonomy. Marzano and Kendal identify analysis (matching, classifying, analyzing errors, generalizing, and specifying) and knowledge utilization (decision making, problem solving, experimenting, and investigating) as higher-order thinking skills. Learners should be explicitly taught higher-order thinking skills and be given opportunities to apply them in learning tasks as well as real life situations beyond school.
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Inclusive Learning Environment
In inclusive learning environments are learning environments in which all learners can thrive regardless of gender, ethnicity, class, age, sexuality, cognitive and/or physical abilities. An inclusive learning environment gives all students the supports, resources, and services they need to participate actively and meaningfully in the learning process.
Instructional Decision Making
Instructional decision making is a continuous, cyclical process of making instructional decisions based on the analysis of learner data. Using data to inform instructional decisions involves key processes – assessing, analyzing, planning, implementing, and reflecting. Data-informed instructional decision making uses data from multiple sources to understand learning strengths and needs in order to suggest classroom and school-wide instructional solutions. This same cyclical process can be applied to larger education decisions affecting school climate and school improvement efforts, with expanded sets of data that may include, for example, teacher evaluation and professional development, parental involvement, and resource allocation.
Instructional Strategies
Instructional strategies are teaching activities, grounded in theory and designed to have specific effects and an extensive line of inquiry and research. They involve a sequence of steps or a number of related elements. They have an intended effect on student learning.
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Learning Community
A learning community is a group of educators and/or students who share common educational goals and who are actively engaged in learning together and from each other. Such communities are effective in K-12 classrooms, collegial educator groups, and cohort-based university educator preparation programs.
License Upgrades
Professional educators are responsible for knowing and complying with laws, rules, and procedures that apply to Utah Educator Licensure including the requirement for Level 1 licensed educators to meet the requirements for upgrade to a Level 2 license after three years of service. Details of upgrade procedures may be found at .
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Meta-cognitive Process
"Meta-cognitive" refers to the process by which learners think about their thinking, actively monitor their comprehension, employ and evaluate strategies, and reflect on their learning and set goals. Metacognition has been characterized as a habit of mind involving an internal dialog or “self-talk”.
Methods of Inquiry
Methods of inquiry are the learning processes appropriate to particular content. In the inquiry process, students are active participants in the learning process helping to facilitate their own construction of new knowledge. Once the students' interests are engaged, the process of inquiry provides opportunities for students to exercise advanced thinking and problem-solving skills.
Misconceptions are preconceived notions, non-scientific beliefs, naive theories, mixed conceptions, or conceptual misunderstandings that students may have developed in relation to specific content concepts. What is especially concerning about misconceptions is that students continue to build knowledge on current understandings and possessing misconceptions can have negative impacts on learning. Effective teachers know the misconceptions common to their disciplines, identify them by evaluating student responses, and re-teach to facilitate a more accurate understanding of content.
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Pedagogy is the effective  use of instructional strategies leading to the learning of K-12 students. Decisions about effective instructional strategies are based on the background knowledge, prior experiences, and environment of the student as well as the learning goals set by approved core curriculum and agreed upon by the student and teacher. Andragogy consists of learning strategies focused on adults, and the process of engaging adult learners in learning experiences.
Pedagogical Content Knowledge
Pedagogical content knowledge blends content and effective instructional strategies for teaching particular subject matter, including appropriate representations and explanations.
The ability to persevere is the ability to stay focused on a task or a learning goal even when it’s difficult to master. Perseverance includes the learner’s ability to monitor and evaluate their own progress and change course if necessary.
Positive Learning Environment
Positive learning environments provide supportive atmospheres that sustain a caring community of learners in which academic and social goals are clear. The focus is placed on learning, not simply on “knowing” or on right and wrong answers.
Positive Social Interaction
Positive social interactions are those that give the teacher opportunities to demonstrate caring, fairness, and respect. A teacher’s ability to relate to students and to make positive, caring connections with them plays a significant role in cultivating a positive learning environment and promoting student achievement.
Pre-assessment is the practice of determining what students already know so as not to cover material students have mastered, or use methods that would be ineffective for students. A pre-assessment can be a quiz, game, discussion, or other activity that asks students to answer some of the questions that would be used to evaluate their performance at the end of an upcoming short- or long-term learning activity.
Principles of Effective Instruction
Principles of effective instruction include high teacher expectations, proactive and supportive classrooms, opportunity to learn, curriculum alignment, coherent content, thoughtful discourse, scaffolding students’ ideas, task involvement, practice, application, and goal-oriented assessments.
Prior Content Knowledge
The content of lessons may be differentiated based on students’ prior knowledge or what students already know. Some students in a class may be completely unfamiliar with the concepts in an upcoming learning activity, some students may have partial mastery of the content - or display mistaken ideas about the content, and some students may show mastery of the content before the learning activity begins. Awareness of students’ prior content knowledge allows teachers to plan appropriate instructional activities and to make effective use of learning time.
Professional Bias
Professional biases are personal inclinations or preferences that may influence instructional, assessment, or interpersonal judgments from being balanced or even-handed. Professionalism includes an obligation for educators to examine their own biases and eliminate biased judgments in order to equitably meet the learning needs of all students. 
Professional Demeanor
Professional demeanor is the manner in which an educator carries himself or herself  in the classroom, school, community, and educational system.  Conduct is a representation of how well  an educator takes care of himself or herself, from aesthetics to language and behavior.   Conduct also includes an educator’s ability to initiate and maintain quality communication with all the parties involved in education: students, fellow teachers, school board, administration, and parents. 
Professional Development
Professional development provides comprehensive, sustained, and intensive learning opportunities to expand the professional knowledge base available to teachers and to engage them in an ongoing process of critically examining their teaching practices to find new and more effective ways to improve student learning. Professional development needs to address both an individual teacher’s goals for professional growth and the larger organizational learning priorities for school improvement. Professional learning engages teachers in working with others to deepen their content knowledge, sharpen their instructional skills, and develop their ability to use data for meaningful decision-making.
Professional Learning
Professional learning is an ongoing, job-embedded process that supports transfer of newly-learned knowledge and skills to practice. Such learning also needs to be continuously evaluated and refined.
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Real-world Contexts
"Real-world contexts" refer to the teaching of knowledge and ideas connected to the real-world experiences of students. When powerful ideas are taught with a real-world connection, learning becomes meaningful and useful in students’ lives.
Reflective Practice
Reflective practice is the careful review of and thoughtfulness about one's own teaching process. Effective teachers continually practice self-evaluation and self-critique as learning tools. They seek a great understanding of teaching through scholarly study and professional reading. Effective teachers personalize instructional interactions, form generalizations, and use their teaching experiences to develop future goals leading to greater effectiveness.
Role Model Responsibilities
The professional educator is responsible to be a role model of civic and societal responsibility.  Teacher role model responsibilities are governed by State Board Rule R277-515. The rule recognizes that licensed public school educators are professionals and, as such, should share common professional standards, expectations, and role model responsibilities. The rule describes behavior for which educators will receive license discipline.
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Self-directed Learner
Self-directed learners are learners who take increasing responsibility for various decisions associated with their own learning. Self-directed learners are able to transfer learning, in terms of both knowledge and study skills, from one situation to another. They participate in activities such as self-guided reading, study groups, internships, electronic dialogues, and reflective writing activities. Effective teachers support learners to become increasingly responsible for their own learning. Teachers participate in dialogue with learners, secure resources, evaluate outcomes, and promote critical thinking.
Standards of Evidence
Standards of evidence are the techniques and guidelines by which the information in a discipline is evaluated.
Structures of the Discipline
Structures of the discipline are developed through systematic approach to creating models of inquiry in a particular field of study, usually including methods of scientific inquiry. The approach includes the idea that topics are evolving and not static. This allows for engagement in research and study toward further development of the discipline. This systematic approach creates an organization of ideas across many fields of study and enables a learner to become expert in one or more of the disciplines.
Student Products
Student products are the ways in which students demonstrate what they know, understand, and can do. Student products may include tests, applications, demonstrations, and proposing solutions to real-world problems. Effective teachers differentiate products in response to student readiness, interest, and learning goals.
Summative Assessments
Summative assessment is the process of certifying learning at the culmination of a given period of time to evaluate the extent to which instructional objectives have been met. Examples of summative assessment include end-of-unit tests, final exams, semester exams, portfolios, capstone projects, performance demonstrations, state-mandated tests and required national accountability tests.
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Timely Feedback
Providing timely feedback to students can make a significant difference in their achievement. If students receive feedback no more than a day after a test or homework assignment has been turned in, it will increase the window of opportunity for learning. Feedback is a research-based strategy that teachers, and students, can practice to improve their success.
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Utah State Board Rules
The Utah State Board of Education receives its authority for making rules governing public education from the Utah Constitution Article X, Section 3. The Utah Administrative Rulemaking Act specifies procedures for state agencies to follow in making rules. Utah State Board of Education rules may be accessed at