During the 2013/14 school year I was asked by my principal to be our building leader and district representative for the changing teacher evaluation system, TPEP, known as the Professional Growth and Evaluation (PGE) system in my district. My understanding of the Danielson Framework was limited, but I needed to quickly become an expert. As the PGE coordinator for my building I have been at the forefront of the professional development work and staff training in my building and district. However, even with all that work I still strive to push myself to distinguished in all areas of my own practice. This is a high challenge and one that I gladly accept because I believe that is also what is best for kids. The distinguished area moves my practice away from being just a good teacher, to being a great practitioner of our craft by enabling my students to take the ownership and drive in their own learning.
As a part of our Accomplished Teaching course (EDU 6528) we closely examined the Danielson framework and used it as a tool for reflection of our own practice. I began with a reflection on Danielson’s framework, specifically on component 1b – Demonstrating Knowledge of Students. I studied the breakdown of the attributes between a proficient and a distinguished teacher. The key distinction is that of intent on the teacher’s part and a difference between knowledge and a “systematic” approach to individual students vs. a “purposeful” approach to groups of students. I have always been someone who wants and needs to know my students as individuals. I believe that the true magic of teaching happens when we connect with a student on the individual level and watch the “light bulb” turn on. Connecting with students and knowing them means being involved, knowing their parents, attending events, and engaging them in their areas of interest. I tend to differentiate based on that knowledge. I will find pictures, videos, or other ways to connect to the details of students’ lives. We will share knowledge and ideas. Many of my students travel extensively and share their experiences. I work to incorporate their experiences into our curriculum and discussions. They feel that connection and it also benefits the other students in class as well as our classroom culture.
I then reflected on Danielson’s Domains 3b and 3c specifically asking myself, “How do these domains affect my reflective work as an individual, partner/group member, and school leader?” Applying what I was learning about personal and group reflection as it related to the Danielson Domains 3b and 3c made me realize practicing reflection myself and with my PCC team and then teaching those reflective techniques to our students, empowers them. Our students using these tools equips them to meet the high standard of, “Students formulate many questions, initiate topics, and make unsolicited contributions. Students themselves ensure that all voices are heard in the discussion and Students invite comments from their classmates during a discussion.” Having our students this engaged in discussion and applying discussion techniques, moves us as teachers into the distinguished category, but more importantly that is what is best for kids.
One specific strategy I taught them was from watching Lynn Simpson in the video “Improving Participation with Talk Moves”. She says, “When you are confronted with new information, you should change your thinking.” Teaching kids to “revise their thinking” I believe will make them more brave in sharing their ideas and changing those ideas will be an accepted and encouraged part of that. Finally, her “me too” sign is one I have used when I taught 1st grade, but I hadn’t tried it with my older students. That was a next step for me and one I know incorporate successfully into my teaching.
I have shared some of these techniques with my grade level team and we have all agreed to being using them in our math groups to give our students a common language for discussions. As a school leader I can see researching these communication tools further and including them in a future staff training time.
The new teacher evaluation system was such an area of focus for me professionally, that as a part of my Masters work I have chosen to go deeper in my understanding. I have researched and compared the various teacher evaluation frameworks, their development, theory and research behind them, their links to NCLB and Race to the Top, and the choice by Washington State to adopt the Danielson Framework over the Marzano model. During our course, Human Development and the Principles of Learning (EDU 6655) The writings of Linda Darling-Hammond in the areas of teacher preparation and teacher evaluation, led me to choose, Teacher Evaluation: The Old Way vs. The New Way, as my topic for my final project for this course. EDU 6655 Final Presentation. Giving this presentation to my cohort help to strengthen and solidify my learning in this standard.
Another area of focus was Domain 4: Growing and Developing Professionally. During our Leadership in Education course (EDAD 6580) we developed two documents that reflect that domain. Both the Visionary Leadership Analysis – VLA and the Profession Growth Plan – PGP speak to my current and future work as I continue to grow and develop professionally.
In my future work a focus on implementing the highest standards of the Danielson Framework in my own practice is a goal in addition to continuing to come alongside my staff to coach and improve their understanding and practice of the framework as it relates to their practice. As a principal, my deep understanding and working knowledge of the TPEP framework will serve me well as the evaluator in my building. I plan to take a coaching role to support and guide my teachers to becoming distinguished in their own practice.
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“The Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model.” Washington State TeacherPrincipal Evaluation Project. Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Puplic Instruction, 2012. Web. 06 Dec. 2013. <http://tpep-wa.org/the-model/framework-and-rubrics/instructional-frameworks/marzano/>.
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