Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Secret Sauce

A colleague tells me she has mastered Danielson. I was kind of surprised to hear this talk, as opposed to the litany of complaints to which I'm accustomed. She says that she uses the same method to deal post-Danielson as she used pre-Danielson. What's the secret?

She claims she's taught her students that, whenever an observer comes in, they are to raise their right hands if they know the answer to a question, and their left hands if they do not. She says she regularly practices this and has a code phrase she uses when she wants students to enter the left hand-right hand mode. I can't write what it is because I don't want an administrator to identify it. It's an innocuous phrase that anyone might say at any time, so you'll have to come up with your own if you choose to go this route.

I've been hearing complaints about Danielson for years. How does it possibly apply to PE? How does it apply to resource room? How can one rubric judge every single class ever given? I once urged an administrator to give model classes, since administrators are supposed to know everything and would always do everything perfectly. The administrator told me that wouldn't be reliable, since you can't predict how one class would do at any given time. The administrator was absolutely right, of course, but no teacher can really predict how each and every class is gonna go either.

My colleague says I'm absolutely wrong, though I have to say she's the only person I know who says that. She says administrators come in and are amazed at the level of participation. The teacher says the students all know she may call on them if they have their left hand up, and must be prepared to say something. She says she gets rated highly effective all the time, and is regularly praised for her level of participation and engagement.

To me, this sounds too good to be true, though my colleague swears by it. I don't think I could get my students to act like this, and I'm not at all sure I'd want to if I could. For one thing, my students don't know a whole lot of English. It would be difficult to explain this concept to them. Even worse, for me at least, it would be very difficult to rationalize it to them, let alone myself.

But hey, if it works for her, more power to her. I wonder if it could just be that she's very good at what she does. For students to cooperate like that, they must like her. She says she gives them participation credit for doing this. I'm not sure that would suffice for everyone. Some kids don't care even a little about things like that. Yesterday, a student came to my classroom door, said hello, and announced that he was cutting the class. Then, he went and cut the class. I wonder what Danielson would've said about that. Was I supposed to go to the door and drag the kid in? That could be construed as corporal punishment. Also, for all I know, the kid is stronger than I am and it wouldn't work anyway.

I'm not going to bother trying to do this. Do you think a teacher could take this system and make it work? Do you think it would work for you? Are you gonna try it?
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