"The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains.

The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires."

The quote above from William Arthur Ward identifies the ability to inspire as one of the greatest achievements of a teacher. In order to be a great teacher, and to inspire students, requires that educators possess a set of teaching skills. I have developed a strong set of teaching skills from the Teacher Preparation Program at William and Mary's School of Education. I have learned these skills in foundational classes, through curriculum and instruction courses, and through my experiences as a student teacher. Below I discuss how my skill set aligns with the professional competencies under the domain of "Teaching Skills."

Teaching Skills

  1. Teaches based on lesson plans
  2. Provides for individual differences
  3. Uses a variety of effective teaching strategies
  4. Uses motivational strategies to actively engage students in learning
  5. Promotes critical thinking skills

1. Teaches based on lesson plans
Successful classroom instruction and student learning is based on well thought out and planned lessons. Developed lessons offer the teacher a blueprint for instruction. Lessons establish time limits for activities and a visual map for procedures and instructional activities. The many ideas and creative activities that take shape in my head are not refined, altered, and strengthened until they are laid out on paper. A lesson plan should fit within a well-planned unit. Daily lessons are only a piece of a puzzle. They should each fit together within the big picture of a unit for coherency in order for students to understand central themes and concepts.


2. Provides for Individual Differences
Teaching a diverse group of learners has shown me that students come into the classroom with a wide-range of knowledge, skills, and dispositions. As an educator dedicated to teaching each student who enters my classroom, I have learned to prepare lessons tailored to the needs of my students. During a lesson on the motives of Imperialism, students read primary documents explaining the various viewpoints for gaining colonies. To differentiate learning and provide challenging but not frustrating documents, my students received two different versions. My gifted students read the original document in its entirety while my average students received an excerpted version that I created with less challenging grammar and vocabulary.


3. Uses a Variety of Effective Teaching Strategies
In order to differentiate learning, make history interesting, and keep my students engaged, I use a variety of teaching strategies to teach my content. Strategies like structured academic controversies, concept formation lessons, inquiry lessons, and Socratic seminars can be seen on my page dedicated to lesson plans. I also like to use a variety of other strategies that are sometimes built into larger lessons, or are used as a warm up activity such as Think-Pair-Share, Jigsawing, and 3-2-1.

During a lesson on the effects of the Great Depression, students received an article from the New York Times. While reading the article, students were required to perform a "3-2-1." They wrote down three things they read, two things they learned, and one thing they had a question about, or want to know more about. I then facilitated a student-led discussion.


4. Uses Motivational Strategies to Actively Engage Students in Learning
In order to motivate my students, I use two methods. First, I actively engage students by making history come alive. Too many students see history as something static, lifeless, and intangible. I do my best in the classroom to have my students live history as it happened. During a lesson on World War I (WWI Trench Warfare Lesson.pdf) students literally created trenches and waged trench warfare along the Eastern and Western Fronts. Thanks to the help of a local historian students got to touch history and try on gas masks and helmets from WWI.

Dressed for a WWI Lesson

The second way I motivate my students is by getting them to value not only history, but learning itself. If a student does not want to learn, it does not matter what the subject is. To encourage my students to value learning and academic success I assigned a college acceptance project. Students had to chose a college that they are thinking about attending, or one that they have heard of. They were then required to make a poster for the school that identifies required high school GPA, SAT Scores, tuition, and other requirements to enter the school. My hope was that students would set goals for themselves and recognize the amount of work they need to put in during high school to achieve their goals.

College Requirements Project

5. Promotes Critical Thinking Skills
As a firm believer in Bloom's taxonomies, I attempt to teach my students at a variety of different cognitive levels. Social Studies often focuses on Recall and Understanding, but I attempt to hit higher levels with my students. Many of my lessons are based on primary-documents which require analysis in order to develop a hypothesis. I also use a variety of graphic organizers including web diagrams, charts, foldables and inspiration software. In order to compare and contrast the policies of Lenin and Stalin, students created and filled-in a Venn Diagram below.