April 28, 2016
Charlotte Danielson is the author of Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching. This book is being studied by our schools who wish to adopt this framework for instruction and other areas of teacher responsibilities. I had the honor of attending the Danielson training of trainer series at ESU 3 in Omaha. This is a six-day series over the course of the 2015-16 school year.
In the Danielson framework the complex job of teaching is divided into four domains. These domains are further divided into 5 or 6 components which are divided into elements that describe a specific feature of each component. For example, Domain 2, The Classroom Environment contains five components. Component 2a is Creating an Environment of Respect and Rapport, which consists of two elements: “teacher interaction with students” and “student interactions with other students.” Below you will find what we call the Smart Card that serves as a reference to the framework.
Every profession has developed a language of practice. This specialized language of practice allows educators to communicate about teaching and learning excellence. When conversations about effective practice are organized around a framework like Danielson’s they become focused and lead to better instruction.
There are several great reasons to have professional conversations based on a framework for teaching, two of them are important to improving instruction and learning. First, the framework should be used for self-assessment and reflection. Even though we think of self-assessment and reflection as individual activities they are enhanced when we are able to discuss our individual practice with colleagues using a common language of instruction. Not only do we need to self-assess but this is a new era of education where teachers are being expected to watch other teachers and provide each other with productive feedback. Next we must think about improving our practice each year we teach. Using a framework for teaching allows every teacher to consider their individual growth. We don’t all need to work on the same aspect of teaching at the same time or in the same way. The older methods of evaluation didn’t allow for growth. All teachers were evaluated in the same manner. With this framework the person in charge of evaluations can focus on improving instruction one teacher at a time. This framework provides a road map for novice teachers and guidance for experienced teachers. The continuous school improvement process can be enhanced using the framework. It can help identify where a school system can focus their efforts. These conversations focus on the means not the ends and are conducted in an environment that is safe and respectful.
Danielson’s Framework for Teaching can help professional educators to improve our complex practice. Teaching is physically, emotionally, and cognitively demanding but with the use of a framework that defines effective practice we can all improve our instruction to improve the lives of all our students.
-by Susan Evans, Teaching and Learning Coordinator