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And so begins another school year and with it, even more new guidelines on teacher evaluations. New York State has adopted the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching. Teachers have come back from summer break and have been told that this will be the new standard for evaluating teachers. For the first time last year, students in the state of New York were given Common Core aligned state exams. They were harder, longer and given earlier in the school year soon after spring break. Scores have plummeted throughout the state. These scores are what they are basing the teacher ratings, along with the Danielson Framework.
The Danielson Framework is all-encompassing and objective. And because of these traits it is also incredibly in-depth. It contains four domains, divided into twenty-two components and a rubric for each component. Do you feel overwhelmed yet? Not only do you need to have every student show growth on the state and local exams, but now you need to worry about yourself in twenty-two different components. Each component rubric has examples of what to do and what not to do and what artifacts can be used to prove the teacher has successfully completed the component.
The framework divides itself up. A teacher cannot be scored on more than one component at a time. This is a relief in and of itself because how could any one administrator carry around and accurately score any person accurately with twenty-two rubrics? In theory the different components make sense. In reality, no one evaluates anything in life that way. When you walk into any room in any type of building, you don’t look at any one component, you look at the whole picture. Your natural instinct is to take all of it in, not just the paint color, for example. This framework asks the administrator to look only at one singular component of a teacher, or classroom or lesson plans.
The four domains are planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction and professional responsibilities. The first domain, planning and preparation concentrates on the teachers lessons and lesson plans. It essentially grades the teacher on how well she can plan the lesson. This has led some schools to dictate what needs to be in a lesson plan. This can help the teacher avoid a lower rating and therefore achieve success. Lesson plans are no longer notes meant for the teacher’s eyes only. Those little boxes in the plan books in no longer sufficient and would be a cause for failure. Domain two, classroom environment grades the teacher on the physical classroom and on the attitude found in the classroom. The room needs to be well set up physically and there must be a culture of learning. The teacher needs to manage student behavior. Common sense for anyone who has taught. The instruction domain covers teacher-student communication, questioning, engagement, assessment and responsibility. This domain covers the actual teaching. The final domain is professional responsibilities. This includes record keeping, communicating with families, professionalism and being a part of a professional community. These are all the “extras” that were always expected of teachers, but were never part of the evaluations.
The comprehensiveness of this framework makes it both a positive and a negative. It leaves no stone unturned, but at the same time is daunting and overwhelming. It leaves room for any teacher to be successful, but at the same time makes it seem like a teacher needs to taught like a school child in order to complete their job successfully. Keep in mind that while this is used to evaluate teachers, this is not the complete picture. Student test scores are still a major component. The framework is just the component that the teacher can control.