Notes from Charlotte Danielson

Using Your State Teacher Evaluation System to Promote Teaching and Learning

"Oprah Set-up" Conversation between Kris Amundson and Charlotte Danielson

Kris Amundson: You've observed that ESSA creates opportunity. Please say more about that.

Charlotte Danielson: We know that the quality of the teacher impacts learning tremendously. Common notion is that if there's a challenge with learning, must be "the teacher" (this is not lost on teachers...) and it isn't a very realistic way of thinking about quality. Evaluation is "quality assurance" (using public dollars, need for accountability). There are state laws around improving teacher has been focused on the 5-6% of teachers that need improvement. Most eval systems are for those 5-6%, and not for the 94%. We have to move the curve (on teacher effectiveness) so that the "results" are focused on teacher practice. What is the VISION. Teachers need to be able to teach in a way that promotes creativity. Also grounded in the view in the sense that Teaching is cognitive work (also exhausting physical work and demanding emotional work).

KA: Talking about moving the curve. Moving the curve is intellectual work and policy work. Let's talk about the policy work. What are the conditions WRT preparation, staffing, and time - what does all of that need to look like? SBEs don't hire principals, but create conditions under which that happens. What are the policy decisions here?

CD: How can you make even high stakes evals work? Cites Ohio's approach, involving mentorship, and Tier 2 certification process: after 3 years, teachers submit a portfolio, are assessed by trained assessors, receive a certificate and they are allowed to continue. Ohio created a state-wide standard. District evals are not very effective for tenure. Never overlook the power of good assessment to influence teacher practice.

KA: OK, so licensure is one policy lever. Talk about what goes into being one of those evaluators.

CD: Consistency. Accuracy. Accuracy is the key. Illinois adopted [Danielson] framework and required every Principal to pass the test - eventually they all did. By demanding that, more than anything else (more than policy), it increased the confidence of teacher unions in the system. Most teacher eval systems are at the district level - tenure decision is the critical one. (REferences an integrated HR System for Teacher Quality and Professional Learning). Learning is done by the learner - it's a cognitive process. Teachers need to design engaging learning for kids (make learning fun!). I've never known an intellectually lazy 4 year old; I've known many intellectually lazy 14 year olds. I would hate to think that we are switching off the lights [for kids as they get older]. How often have we heard kids say that school is "boring". We need the best and the brightest going into this work.

KA: Indiana has just passed new law, offers best & brightest high school kids to go into the teaching profession. Shows opportunity of SBEs to collaborate with State Legislators. You've talked about teacher prep. SBEs can say: these are skills, dispositions, and knowledge teachers need. How to rethink teacher prep?

CD: There's a lot of thinking that we need to get kids in the classroom sooner, I see the value of some of that, and don't necessarily disagree - - but, there's so much to know about children and their learning. Really understanding intellectual development is so important. Children are children and they're exploring and their minds are expanding. Development of abstract thinking is absolutely critical for kids as they get older. We've put a lot of eggs in the basket of Principal evaluation - - but, it's a medical model and unlikely to generate solutions to problems of practice. Schools & districts have protected PD time and also have to be sure it isn't squandered. Teachers need purpose and have access to the structures they need. Many are using teacher leadership roles to strengthen teacher practice (teachers leaders need skills in facilitation, working with adults).

KA: Very productive, collaborative work potential. SBEs Professional Learning: it's a laugh line for many, because it's a "show and tell" and not related to what they're learning. SBEs do a good job to certify X number of hours of PD, but nothing about the quality of those hours. How to translate that info into policy to promote the highest level?

CD: Let's add one thing - the amount of money spent on teacher PD is extraordinary. "Going to things" is not productive learning. Collaborative learning isn't free, but cannot be as expensive as what passes for PD now. I'd love to hear some ideas.

KA: Let's open this up for productive convo. What are the questions we need to ask? of Charlotte? of Each other?


Q: Nebraska SBE member - For those of us who are retired educators, how do we think about transformation through systems that get to the heart that "learning is more than a test score"? Re-engage educators because of narrowing of curriculum? More about the "art" of education, as opposed to the last 15 yrs which have been the "science" of education.

A: I fear that some teachers that have been trained recently, it's more of a technical work and I think it's taken some of the heart out of it. Many have forgotten that these are children. They have their lives [to live, grow, and learn]. Making connections to each student is at the heart of teaching. The heart is in engagement in learning. Astonished that we do not have a very good understanding of what engagement is.

Q: Georgia SBE member - we looked at PD very closely; what we found was very disturbing to us. Teachers were going to large conferences, signing in, but we had no back up other than that. We were spending $50M a year on this PD and didn't know what we were getting for it. Had to make a change. We've been looking at best practices, at what successful districts are doing.

Missed a couple - in line for Q&A

Q: Family engagement in Teacher prep programs?

A: Teachers can learn from families about the child.