(From Charlotte Danielson’s Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching-2nd Edition)
Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Improving Professional Practice is the basis for our current evaluation tool, and throughout the upcoming weeks we will be delving into the various components of the FFT (Framework for Teaching). No matter which of the 4 Domains you may be focused on (Planning & Preparation, The Classroom Environment, Instruction, and Professional Responsibilities), there are common themes that run throughout the framework, including: cultural responsiveness, high expectations for learning, developmental appropriateness, accommodating individual needs, and (most-importantly) the development of student-centered routines throughout the curriculum. Remember that our goal in working with the FFT is to improve student learning through collaboration, coaching, and specific feedback from administrators.
The “Onstage” Domains: Domain #2 (The Classroom Environment) & Domain #3 (Instruction) represent the “onstage” work associated with teaching. In other words, these Domains are directly observed during instruction. As Danielson states, effective teachers “live in Level 3/Proficient & vacation in Level 4/Distinguished.” To accomplish this, we must focus on two main factors:
- A Student-Centered Environment(student ownership of routines, materials, questioning, assessment, dialog, etc.)
- Student Engagement– The Heart of the FFT (*click here to see our entry on Schlechty’s work on engagement)
Domain 2 – The Classroom Environment: At the heart of Domain 2 is a focus on the interactions that occur throughout the day, including both teacher-student and student-student interactions. How do students support their learning by interacting with the physical environment? Do students contribute freely & take academic risks when interacting with the teacher/peers? How do we interact with our students when behaviors occur & how does the student/class respond? Although these interactions themselves may be non-instructional, they play an essential role in establishing a culture for learning.
Domain 3 – Instruction: Domain 3 contains the component that is considered the heart of teaching – student engagement. Teachers who excel in Domain 3, develop learning tasks that are meaningful to students, and are masters of both pedagogy & the content that is being taught. In other words, they are readers, writers, mathematicians, historians, scientists, etc. Their flexibility is apparent in how various components of the curriculum are integrated into each lesson, in the strategies that are provided to students, and in the degree to which students freely explore the content, generate questions & self-assess. Throughout all this, student learning is closely monitored and is accompanied by specific, transferrable feedback that meets the needs of each individual. In short, teachers who have mastered Domain 3 NEVER work harder than their students!
The “Offstage” Domains: Domain #1 (Planning & Preparation) and Domain #4 (Professional Responsibilities) represent the offstage work associated with teaching. These domains are an essential part of effective instruction; however, many of the elements that make up these two domains may not be observed in the classroom environment. How then, can the offstage Domains be evaluated after a formal observation? This is where our pre and post-conference routines come into play! Danielson encourages teachers to take an active role in the evaluation process by providing artifacts that act as evidence to support Domains 1 & 4. This can take the form of communication logs (parental responses to student inventories), anecdotal notes, or instructional artifacts (student work products with comments) just to name a few! As you prepare for your pre/post conferences, consider what artifacts you will bring with you to help support and focus our dialog!
Domain 1 – Planning & Preparation: Domain 1 of Danielson’s Framework consists of six Components (listed below) that describe how a teacher organizes the content students are to learn, from initial planning through assessment. According to Danielson, the master teacher must not only possess a deep understanding of content and instructional practices, but must also maintain an understanding of the students and what they bring into the classroom as learners. This will allow you to effectively transform your plans into activities and exercises that are meaningful, relevant and accessible to your students. She also explains that assessment techniques must fully support the learning outcomes. Assessment must also serve to document student progress throughout each lesson, determine how to approach future lessons, and to ensure that the outcomes have been met.
Domain 4 – Professional Responsibilities: The Components of Domain #4 (listed below) are associated with being a teacher leader and promote the philosophy that closing your door and instructing is not the complete picture! In addition to encompassing the roles/duties assumed in the classroom with students, Domain #4 focuses us on those responsibilities that lie outside of the instructional realm. This includes specific & accurate self-reflection, and contributions to the school, district, and/or profession (i.e. What do you do beyond official school/district meetings/PD?). The Elements also include interactions with the families of students and the degree to which students contribute to the frequency and quality of these communications.