Teacher Evaluation: A Transition Guide to Exemplary Performance
In the high-stakes world of teacher evaluation, we must remind ourselves that the most important aim of observation and evaluation is not rating teachers, but strengthening teaching and learning." - Laurie McCullough
What are the most effective teachers across the nation doing? I am talking about the top 1% of the top 1% of teachers in America! What motivates these teachers? What are they doing that no one else seems to be doing day-to-day when working with students, parents, colleagues, and the community? How can I start to make a difference in my teaching?
Charlotte Danielson is a leading educational researcher in the United States. She developed a framework that is built from experimental and theoretical research that is known to improve student learning. The skills, or components, vividly describe what a teacher should know and be able to do in their job. One of the most powerful pieces she developed are rubrics that describe examples of proficiency. A teacher can self-score their skills on the rubric, set goals, and continue to improve their craft. The rubric language and examples for each performance level make the framework popular and used wide spread across the nation. In fact, Dr. Robert Marzano's and Danielson's models are the prevalent evaluation frameworks in the United States; a majority of schools use these to support their teacher's growth.
Danielson divided her research into four domains. Two domains are "invisible" in the classroom, while the other two domains are visible when you walk into the classroom. While many of the components and skills can be observed in the school, there are many that are value-added measures of student learning that highly correlate to increased student achievement. The descriptions of the components helps teachers and their evaluators use a common language, provides for more confidence when evaluating, as well easier to set evidenced-based goals with the Danielson Framework.
When Common Core State Standards were released, the Danielson Group modified the language in the framework to mirror the goal of creating students that are college and career ready. This has led to significant changes in the way schools plan, teach, and assess, as well as how we communicate with our colleagues, parents, and community members. Many educators like the focus on "engagement" in the Danielson Framework. The language in the framework supports teachers creating classroom environments that empowers and develops agency with students, as well as building a strong collaborative learning community.
- Domain One: Planning and Preparation
- Domain Two: The Classroom Environment
- Domain Three: Instruction
- Domain Four: Professional Responsibilities
The purpose of this guide is to support evaluating teachers through honesty, integrity, and evidence-based practices. Scoring can be done individually by the teacher, with support from an instructional coach, or with an administrator or evaluator. We at Teacher.org want to encourage teachers both seasoned and new to expand their vision and understanding of the teaching profession. A master's in education helps but you will always be learning, adapting, adopting, and understanding.
Here are 128 questions to tackle that can support the transition to this illustrious and pinnacle level of "exemplary."
Domain One: Planning and Preparation (42 Questions)
Domain one discusses planning and preparation. In the framework it is an "invisible" domain, meaning that when you may not understand how much work the teacher put into planning and preparation prior to the observed teaching. The components of this domain are the following:
- Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy
- Demonstrating Knowledge of Your Students
- Setting Instructional Outcomes
- Demonstrating Knowledge of Resources
- Designing Coherent Instruction
- Designing Student Assessments
Domain Two: The Classroom Environment (29 Questions)
Domain two discusses what it looks like and sounds like in the classroom environment. This is considered a visible domain, meaning that you can see the components when observing the teacher. The components of this domain are the following:
- Creating an Environment of Respect and Rapport
- Establishing a Culture for Learning
- Managing Classroom Procedures
- Organizing the Physical Space in Your Classroom
- Managing Student Behavior
Domain Three: Instruction (28 Questions)
Domain three discusses the actual instruction in the classroom environment. This is considered a visible domain, meaning that you can see the components when observing the teacher. The components of this domain are the following:
- Being Exemplary When Communicating with Students
- Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques
- Engaging Students in Learning
- Using Assessment in Instruction
- Demonstrating Flexibility and Responsiveness in the Classroom
Domain Four: Professional Responsibilities (29 Questions)
Domain four discusses the actual instruction in the classroom environment. This is considered an invisible domain, meaning when observed you do not necessarily see the professional responsibilities of that specific teacher. The components of this domain are the following:
- Reflecting on Teaching
- Maintaining Accurate Records
- Communicating with Families
- Improve the Participation in the Professional Community
- Growing and Developing Professionally
- Showing Professionalism
Meet the Expert
Jon is in his nineteenth year of education and tenth year as a principal. He has been at his current school for seven years, which is an award-winning Blue Ribbon school in Great Falls, Montana. He has previously taught several grades in the elementary and middle school settings. He was also an instructional coach. Prior to his current position, he was a K-12 principal in a small rural school district in Power, Montana. Jon earned a Master's Degree in K-12 Educational Leadership from the University of Phoenix in 2004. He furthered his work garnering his Superintendent Endorsement from the University of Montana in 2016. In 2011, Jon was the recipient of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) for his work in elementary science. Jon is married and has two boys.