When I wrote Enhancing Professional Practice in 1996, I intended it to be a definition of good teaching, in all its complexity. I hoped (and wrote) that it might be useful for any number of purposes: first, and most importantly, for teachers’ own self assessment and reflection; for teacher preparation, recruitment and hiring, mentoring and induction; for professional development; and yes, also teacher evaluation. The latter was simply one of many uses to which it could be put.
However, that’s been a source of some tension, since many educators have made evaluation its first use. And in the last few years, with the new emphasis on teaching evaluation, people have had to base their evaluations on something. I’d prefer that they use my Framework for that
purpose, rather than some other instructional model that’s not as well researched or well accepted. That’s not to say that I approve of every evaluation system that’s been developed, particularly if it’s seen as something that’s done to teachers, rather than as a collaborative effort.
First, the Framework for Teaching (FFT) is a valid instrument for defining effective teaching. Several large research studies (the MET project, a study in Chicago) demonstrated its predictive validity: that is, when teachers demonstrate high levels of proficiency on the FFT, their students show greater learning gains than do the students of teachers who perform less well. The latest edition of the FFT (2013) incorporates the instructional implications of the Common Core State Standards.
Second, the Framework for Teaching represents what Lee Shulman has called the “wisdom of practice.” That is, when teachers consider the FFT in light of the complex work they do, it makes sense to them and illuminates some of the complexity. Furthermore, the levels of performance represent a natural progression for teachers as they acquire greater experience and expertise.
Third, the Framework for Teaching is supported by a large ecosystem of training and online materials. These comprise face to face training for all educators, training and assessment of observers, and published resources to support observation, evaluation, and professional development. These are available through the Danielson Group and other partners.
In general, I discourage educators from making revisions to the Framework, since that can jeopardize its validity. The language in the levels of performance for the FFT has evolved since 1996; it has become more precise and tighter, with clearer distinctions between the different levels. I am aware of how challenging this is to do well, and I advise practitioners to adopt the FFT as it stands. If people want to customize it for their own setting, my advice is to add possible examples to illustrate practice in that setting.
The FFT is intended to apply to all disciplines, K12. That is grounded in the simple fact that teaching, in whatever context, requires the same basic tasks, namely, knowing one’s subject, knowing one’s students, having clear outcomes, establishing a culture for learning, engaging students in learning, etc. The details of how each of those things is done, naturally, is highly level and discipline specific, and requires expertise on the part of teachers in these settings. But in general, the FFT is intended to apply equally to primary mathematics and high school studio art. It’s certainly true that the details of teaching in, for example, world languages and fine arts, are different from the details in primary reading, but it’s also the case that the details of primary reading are different from those of middle school mathematics, or high school history. That is, while teaching is highly contextualized, the basic work of teaching is universal.
While most educators have opinions on this subject, there is no research (at least not yet) to suggest that any of the components in the Framework for Teaching are more important than others. However, in the MET study, teachers’ ratings were higher, in general, for the components in Domain 2 than they were for Domain 3, suggesting that getting the classroom environment “right” is a prerequisite to serious attention to instruction, and might explain why many mentoring programs begin with the procedural and management concerns of first year teachers. However, that does not imply that Domain 2 is more important that Domain 3, only that it develops earlier. Skill in Domain 3 is absolutely critical for promoting student engagement and learning, and while it may develop after Domain 2, teaching cannot be considered “good” until teachers perform the Components of Domain 3 at a high level.
The Framework for Teaching is definitely not a checklist of specific behaviors. For example, in 2a, (creating an environment of respect and rapport) there are many ways teachers create an environment that’s safe for students to take intellectual risks, in which they respect the contributions of their classmates, etc. – not just one practice that every teacher should demonstrate. The same can be said for each of the 22 components... you can illustrate this by picking one, consider how you would demonstrate proficient or distinguished level performance, and then ask whether there are other things you (or someone else) might do that would also fit that description. The answer is certainly that there are “lots of ways to be good.”
"Danielson’s Framework for Teaching has been a revelation to me; the best analogy I can offer is that the Framework is like having voice-guided GPS to direct you to a destination, when before you might have only had a destination name and an outdated road map."
Pre-Service Teacher, May 2016
“[The consultant] gave the best PD I have seen in 15 years of teaching, and was the first to explain [the] Danielson [Framework] in a human way. Bravo.”
A teacher, June 2015
“I am so impressed with the Danielson Group consultants. They are all so real. Your trainers helped make [proficient] teaching stronger and steered [basic teaching] toward increasing effectiveness.”
A principal, June 2015
"Due to your consultant's seamless and meaningful transitions, knowledge of content, and rapport with the audience, the room was alive with energy and it made us all feel ready to begin the year off with success."
"Never before have I seen a group of seasoned educators like your consultants master the art of communicating with an audience with varied levels of expertise and interests. The two days that I spent with your team, I walked away with a desire to use the rubric to truly enhance my own practice."
"I left with a renewed look at the rubric, thinking that the rubric is the Great Equalizer! We can ALL enhance our practice by using it as a tool and a roadmap to produce students who think and are ready for college and careers. THANK YOU!"
"Your consultants' presence and organization of the day will not only impact the new teachers that attended, but will make the year alive for a vast number of students this year."
"Our workshop focused on calibration and inter-rater agreement training, so it was directly aligned to our individual and collective work with teacher performance evaluation. With new administrators on the team, this type of training is critical."
"We were highly impressed with our Danielson Group consultant and the workshop. We have nothing but positive things to share. Staff have been emailing us, thanking us. This is the most worthwhile presentation we've been to in a while."
"The workshop you provided was hands-on, interesting, practical, and respectful of time limits. I heard more positive feedback about this workshop from staff than I have about any other."
"We wanted to let you know how much we appreciated the flexibility and professionalism that your consultant provided in our unique context. It helped us to keep on track with our schedule at a critical time. For that we are truly grateful."
"Your consultant presented a perfectly differentiated learning experience for all our principals. They were highly engaged, as demonstrated by on-topic conversations using academic language, completion of tasks requiring evidence identification, and note taking and 'grading' during classroom videos of teaching."
"Our school principals said the Framework observation training was the best training they had ever had, including the training provided when earning their Master’s degrees."
"I have a principal who was so excited about the breakthrough work with her staff in special education. I am already getting my money back!"
"My concern about the extra time it would take to implement the Framework successfully was not accurate. It took about the same amount of time as our prior evaluation system, and the benefits in professional growth and increased student achievement were more than worth it."
"I want to truly thank you for the brilliant job that you did with our training. I got such positive feedback from the team. They feel re-energized and like they have a direction and new tools to do the job."