Losing Sleep Over Charlotte… Danielson, That Is.

About Amy Arnold

Amy Arnold is a mother, a teacher, a writer, an administrator, a parent coach, and exhausted!!! She has worked with students with special needs since 1994, and specialized in autism and related disorders for the last 15 years, including parent coaching, sibling workshops, and sensory training. When not focused on education, she enjoys playing guitar and writing fiction. She can be contacted at amyarnold08@gmail.com.

It was my first year back to public school.  I had spent so many years in alternative ed, special ed, charter and private schools, and I thought this might be my road to retirement.  Until I met Charlotte.  Actually, I didn’t so much meet her as I was hit over the head by her Framework for Teaching.  I was assaulted by her domains, punched in the mouth by her constructivist viewpoint, and knocked out completely by her 22 components.  It’s not that I was out of the loop completely, but the idiocy of this Framework hadn’t infiltrated my sheltered world.  And somehow I managed to get a Highly Qualified rating.

But did I really survive? Click To Tweet

Domain 1:  Planning and Preparation.  If you don’t know your grouping criteria, your students’ needs, their data, the strengths and weaknesses of your curriculum, and if you haven’t completely unpacked your standards, this will be your first stumbling block.  I stalked my Reading and Math Coaches.  I haunted the halls outside of administrative offices.  I fell asleep with my nose in the standards or in the Framework specifics.  I became obsessed with the elusive Highly Effective Rating.  I was out to prove myself worthy in Charlotte’s eyes, or at least in the Framework.

Domain 2:  Classroom Environment.  I moved more furniture that year than in my entire career.  I rearranged my centers, restructured my small group areas, added and removed visuals, updated and revised data walls, and essentially drove myself crazy in an attempt to provide the utmost enriched environment for learning.  My biggest fear was that the Reading Coach would come in and rearrange my room as she had been instructed to do for other teachers.  My poor students didn’t know if they were coming or going in my ongoing struggle to optimally enforce my culture of learning, flexible grouping, and respectful rules.  I was exhausted and so were they!

Domain 3:  Instruction.  Twenty-two years was my fall back.  I had taught for 22 years.  I had this part down, or so I thought.  I began to consider bribing students to engage with me and with each other during observations.  I had to NOT freak out when they were off task, even though it was marked against me on my evaluation.  One child pulls a pencil from her bookbag.  She looks at it and raises her hand to ask to sharpen it.  NOOOOOOO!!!  Off task, not redirected immediately while maintaining academic momentum, and points deducted.  This same child had just been moved from an abusive home to a foster home based on my contacting DCF.  This same child hadn’t slept well several nights in a row in the new home.  This child, who needed only positive reinforcement to maintain the brittle trust we had, and I took the points off before I would break that.  But in an attempt to explain my planned ignoring of the behavior, it didn’t matter.

Domain 4:  Professional Responsibilities.  Personal reflections on teaching should be demonstrated not only in observation plans but also ongoing in lesson plans.  Did you know that?  Families that complain about too much communication, in an attempt to improve student behavior, also counts against you.  This is a terribly subjective domain to prove if your principal isn’t your buddy.

So imagine my surprise when I discovered that Charlotte Danielson herself agrees with me!

I discovered that Charlotte Danielson herself agrees with me! Click To Tweet

I’m deeply troubled by the transformation of teaching from a complex profession requiring nuanced judgment to the performance of certain behaviors that can be ticked off on a checklist,” wrote Danielson.  Hallelujah!  Common sense prevails!  In fact, several districts in my area have removed her Framework from the teacher evaluation for the upcoming school year.  But now what do I do with all these things in my head and all the nights spent awake, worrying?  What about all the 1000 Pinterest posts to help you implement Danielson?  Oh, yeah.  I went back into private school administration so I guess I’ll write my own framework and make some money!

Losing Sleep Over Charlotte... Danielson, That Is.

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By | 2016-11-01T13:49:01+00:00 June 1st, 2016|Educator Professionalism, Featured, From the Front Lines|1 Comment

About the Author:

Amy Arnold is a mother, a teacher, a writer, an administrator, a parent coach, and exhausted!!! She has worked with students with special needs since 1994, and specialized in autism and related disorders for the last 15 years, including parent coaching, sibling workshops, and sensory training. When not focused on education, she enjoys playing guitar and writing fiction. She can be contacted at amyarnold08@gmail.com.

One Comment

  1. Ivor MacNary June 3, 2016 at 8:13 am - Reply

    Thanks for Danielson’s own words.

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