Dispositions & Essential Functions


Dispositions are "the values, commitments, and professional ethics that influence behaviors toward students, families, colleagues, and communities and affect student learning, motivation, and development as well as the candidate's own professional growth." Often, it is the professional dispositions and commitments exhibited by teacher candidates that are most critical in determining their future success in the classroom. Therefore, UAH teacher candidates are introduced to the dispositions woven into the UAH Teacher Education Program in ED 301 - Introduction to Education during their discussion of effective teacher qualities. Candidates are provided with opportunities to engage in a self-evaluation of these dispositions and to demonstrate these attributes as they progress throughout the program.

  1. Intellectual Curiosity. The teacher candidate enlivens the role of researcher and expresses a genuine love for learning by consistently modeling behavior that exemplifies intellectual curiosity and engagement. In the classroom, the teacher candidate fosters and encourages students to extend their personal immersion in learning beyond course content.
  2. Respect for all Learners. The teacher candidate demonstrates respect for and fosters positive rapport with all students.
  3. Multicultural Sensitivity. The teacher candidate promotes the development of an awareness and understanding of cultural, ethnic, and economic differences and understands their impacts on learning.
  4. Self-initiative. The teacher candidate accurately assesses needs and independently implements plans to address student needs in creative and resourceful ways.
  5. Flexibility. The teacher candidate identifies and positively adapts when unanticipated occurrences arise.
  6. Interaction with Others. The teacher candidate initiates positive interactions with students, faculty, peers, and others.
  7. Reliability/Dependability. The teacher candidate is always responsible. The teacher candidate attends to tasks or duties without prompting.
  8. Oral Communication Skills. The teacher candidate is articulate, expressive, and conversant. The teacher candidate is able to adapt his or her communicative style to the situation; the teacher candidate listens well and responds appropriately.
  9. Written Expression. The teacher candidate expresses ideas clearly and concisely. The teacher candidate makes no mechanical errors.
  10. Attendance/Punctuality. The teacher candidate is punctual and has regular attendance. The candidate provides prior notification and reasonable explanations for absences.
  11. Professional Appearance. The teacher candidate follows the appropriate dress code for the situation.
  12. Tact and Judgment. The teacher candidate is diplomatic. The teacher candidate is sensitive to others' feelings and opinions.

Essential Functions

In addition to the candidate competencies and dispositions discussed above, teacher candidates must be able to carry out what K-12 schools often define as the essential functions or responsibilities of the job. Most candidates can meet these responsibilities with little or no additional support. However, our candidacy pool is changing. As more students with disabilities experience success in elementary, middle and high school, they are more likely to enroll in postsecondary education programs, including our teacher preparation programs. Sometimes these students, and certainly many teacher preparation programs are not equipped to meet this challenge. In an effort to better serve our candidates, especially those with disabilities, the unit faculty and a group of school leaders collaborated in the development of a set of essential functions all candidates should be able to perform; the listing of skills is a sample of the types of essential functions required of classroom teachers. Our goal in developing the list is to build awareness and provide the necessary support system for all candidates to successfully meet program and state/national goals for highly qualified educators.

Essential Functions


  •  Demonstrates necessary endurance to access school environment.
  • Is able to sit a minimum of 10 minutes, stand for 1 hour and walk for a minimum of 5 continuous minutes.
  • Is able to physically access various environments across the school facility including classrooms, cafeteria, library, stairs, and elevators
  • Is able to physically access and utilize chalkboards, posters, bulletin boards, overhead projectors and other technology related equipment.
  • Is able to physically manipulate the environment in order to retrieve, use and/or store teaching materials including books and equipment.
  • Visual, auditory and/or sensory functions sufficient to navigate school related environments in order to ensure safety.
  • Demonstrates fluid communication skills which can be understood by individuals who are unfamiliar with the individual’s speech patterns

 *Collaborative Only

  • Can physically push or pull wheelchairs, standers or other equipment related to student mobility.
  • Can perform single or two man lifts or assist students with physical transfers.
  • Is physically able to assist or direct physical restraint as dictated by a Behavior Intervention Plan.


  • Maintains high emotional energy and displays enthusiasm for content, students and colleagues.
  • Uses people first, non-discriminatory language.
  • Utilizes eye contact and body language appropriate to the educational setting.
  • Exercises emotional maturity by avoiding curt, rude, defensive or inflammatory behaviors when communicating with administrators, colleagues or parents.
  • Seeks assistance from administrators, colleagues or outside professional resources in order to resolve deficits or increase knowledge regarding instructional strategies, classroom management, or interpersonal relationships.
  • Creates meaningful opportunities to motivate and include community stakeholders (parents, businesses, community helpers) to maximize student learning.
  • Adheres to school or system dress policies including piercings, tattoos, personal hygiene (hair and nails) and type of clothing to be worn.