Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What's Wrong with Daniel-San?

I've spent countless pages on this blog railing against value-added measurement, which as far as I can tell has nothing whatsoever to do with objective reality. That point of view is shared by many people for whom I have great respect, most notably Diane Ravitch.

Often lumped in with that criticism is the Danielson Framework, which was something UFT agreed to before Reformy John imposed his insane plan on us. Criticism of Danielson is rampant. Yes, she's raking in the bucks from the DOE, and yes, there's doubtless a great deal of nonsense going on in her name. But no one denies there was a great deal of nonsense going on before anyone even heard of her.

It's certainly true a supervisor who has it in mind to rate someone poorly will do so whether or not there is a framework. But short of outright lying, the idea is that said supervisor needs to take "low-inference" notes on what actually happens in the classroom. Bad observation reports I've been seeing fail to do that. Responding to them is not particularly difficult. I think supervisors are even more baffled than we are. This is particularly true of longtime supervisors in the habit of writing observation reports only when the mood struck them.

Clearly there's a lot in the "highly effective" category that's only attainable when the stars align perfectly. I don't think it's reasonable for anyone to expect that of every teacher on a regular basis, and calls for merit pay based on this are ridiculous. Only Mary Poppins would get merit pay, and she's not the only one in need of a raise.

What I see in Danielson more than anything is an emphasis on engaging the kids. Personally, that's always been what I've aimed to do. Of course I haven't always succeeded. I don't have a magical spell to weave over kids who hate English, hate being here, and want nothing more than to return to their home countries. I've no doubt plenty of American kids are equally unmotivated, for whatever reason.

But I've taught multiple subjects in multiple schools in the Bronx and Queens, and there's always been something going on in my classroom. Honestly, if I had to sit with a bunch of people who never did anything I'd have quit or committed suicide long ago.

I don't think it's a valid criticism just to say administrators will abuse it, because that's true of anything. I agree it would be best used as something to strive for rather than something to observe teachers with.  But that's not gonna happen anytime soon. So given that nothing is not a viable alternative, tell me, what is so bad about the Danielson Framework?
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