Reports From the Field

February 5, 2013 — 9 Comments


Many thanks to the teachers, from all across the city, who responded to our request to share their experiences with the Danielson observation process in their classrooms. The insights below paint a clear picture of a framework doesn’t fit all disciplines, is being implemented by supervisors who aren’t competent enough to do so and, by disrupting our colleagues’ working conditions, is having an adverse effect on our students’ learning conditions. If you haven’t yet, please take a moment and share your experiences here so that we may post them in the next Reports From the Field edition in two weeks.

James, a music teacher at an elementary school in Brooklyn wrote:

“We see kids once a week and are supposed to have open ended conversations about specific skills like fingering an instrument, when they need to be just practicing the way its done and has been done. Proper technique. Developing a voice. Improvising. Rehearsing songs with a group. [But] Oh wait ‘the kids don’t have an opportunity to talk to each other, that’s ineffective’. ‘Your still life must match this photo of our still life or I can’t prove I have added any value to your arts education” and I will be…INEFFECTIVE!’…”


Paul
, a high school teacher from Queens writes that in his school:

“Danielson is being used to frame the [formal] observation. Regardless of whether or not they are using it to “announce” the final observation result, they are using it to actually breakdown the observation.”

Karl, who teaches elementary school in the Bronx shares:

“…in the over dozen years as a NYC teacher, I have never experienced as many “informal walk through” visits than in the past 2 years during the pilot … Everybody is walking on egg shells and lives with a sense of anxiety every time an administrator walks down the halls.”

Rooney, a high school in Brooklyn describes abuses at his school with Danielson-based observations:

“Faculty attendance is being taken/noted at school events (not sure whether all faculty members are even aware of this…) This corresponds to Danielson’s Domain 4, “Professional Responsibilities.” The AP [wrote up] “informal” observation reports, which we were then asked to sign; these were then put INTO OUR OFFICIAL TEACHER FILES, even though they are not supposed to count as formal observations (which do go in our files). When our union Executive Board
brought this up at a meeting with the principal, she spoke to the APs and eventually a “compromise” was reached: from now on, “informal” observation reports will go into our DEPARTMENTAL files (held by both the APs and the principal), not our official teacher file. However, reports of “informal” observations performed before Dec. 21, 2012 will remain in each teacher’s official file, but will be removed upon teacher request.”


Starr
teaches high school in Queens:

“Admin was visiting classes at the beginning of the year but they never followed up with the feedback. I haven’t had anyone visit my class all year even after I have invited them and have received no feedback. I’ve been asked to join a teacher effectiveness team at school. We’ve met twice and nothing has come of the brief work we’ve done.  It doesn’t seem to be working”


Tanya
, who teaches high school in Brooklyn, wrote:

“The UFT leader has stated to teachers a number of times that the admin is not supposed to be using this framework and has sent out emails to the admin asking them to stop, but they have not, responding that the framework is the future and that teachers need to accept the reality in order to be “better prepared to serve the students”.


Lisa
, who teaches Middle School in Brooklyn described this troubling experience:

“AP comes [and]  stayed for 10 minutes. At the post observation she handed me a rubric with a bunch if ‘ineffectives’ circled. We did not have discussion and she never asked me what I was doing before or after she came in. She said that student engagement was poor, but I was just transitioning from a pair share to a share out, so she only saw 5 students raise their hands and decided enough students were not participating.”


Eileen
, who teaches Middle School in Queens, writes:

“Danielson is being used as a “gotcha” for myself and co-workers. Thanks to my good friend Charlotte, my fabulous and talented co-workers and I are receiving U ratings on our observations for the first time in our careers.”

Ethel, who teaches at a high school in Brooklyn observes that Danielson is being used to decided tenure:

“We use the Danielson framework to rate ourselves after  …observations and for our tenure.”


Francesco a middle school teacher in Staten Island shared his experience from last year:

“After being out for a week for jury duty, [the] first period bell rang, in walks in an AP and Children First Network rep with clipboards. It was a “short” frequent observation that lasted 90 minutes. Short right? During post observation meeting, AP started by saying we were looking at Danielson Framework Domain 1e. She however omitted that wording from the write up that became “unsatisfactory”

Rob, who teaches high school in Brooklyn takes exception with “the “talent coaches” who breeze into
your room unannounced” He exclaims:

“It is demeaning and offensive to have as many as 4 or 5 people wander into your room with this finite mechanism. They hover around the halls, in plain view to keep everyone “on their toes.”


And while Nicole, a Middle School, teacher in the Bronx describes a neutral experience with it:

“The Danielson rubric is used at my school as a feedback form for walk-throughs.  The principal or vice-principal complete the checklist and comment”


And Marc Anderson describes a downright positive experience at the Jonas Bronck Academy:

“I actually would like to forward an example of the correct application of the Danielson Framework. In my school, our UFT rep comes through with a video camera during our lessons every now and then. Every week, we rotate watching one another’s videos at our grade level team meetings and giving each other critical feedback based on the Danielson rubric. In other words, it’s being done the way it should — within a true professional learning community. Is it done perfectly? No. But we’re learning together and figuring it out!”

The experiences of Paul, who  teaches at a District 75 school in the Bronx were what stood out the most. His D75 school is, somehow, one of the 110 pilot TMP schools in the city. TMP evaluator was a building AP, and he shared her comments with MORE about his 10 minute walk-though observation.

When evaluated along Danielson Domain 1E “Designing Coherent Instruction”, Paul’s AP commented that the

“Lesson plan was from Unique. Standards were not listed on the plan. Plan not differentiated for individual student needs. Grouping of students not evident.” Rating: Developing”


However, Paul notes:

“the lesson plan was “required* by the school. It’s part of the required curriculum. It was downloaded directly from the Unique website and placed in my hands. We classroom teachers were directed… to use it…. The plan *IS* differentiated. That’s *why* we were told to use it. (because it’s *differentiated*.)”


When evaluated along Danielson Domain 2B “Establishing a Culture for Learning”, Paul’s AP noted “One paraprofessional was filing papers….” Rating: Ineffective.”

Yet, as Paul explains:

“One paraprofessional was indeed filing papers, at my direction, in an effort to execute the directive that [the AP] herself, made at [a] staff meeting. In a post-observation discussion, [the AP] told me that any clerical duties assigned to the paraprofessional had to be done during non-instructional time. I replied that I did not have paraprofessional services during … non-instructional time during the school day. I asked her to specify another period … She appeared to be unable to answer and instead asserted that I had to stay after school to do any needed clerical work.”

When evaluated along Danielson Domain 2d. ‘Managing Student Behavior’, Paul writes that his AP

“offers no evidence in the “Evidence” section; she leaves it blank.  Rating : Effective ( not “highly effective”.)


When evaluated along Danielson Domain 3c. ‘Engaging Students in Learning’, Paul disturbingly explains that his APs

“ ‘evidence’  section consists of unconnected narrative elements that do not match my memory or corresponding .. notes. Rating: Developing”


And although assessment was built-in to his lesson plan, Paul notes that his AP uses

“no evidence and applies the letters N/A [to] the rating and analysis columns” for Danielson Domain 3d (assessment).”


Paul asserts that he reached out to UFT President Mulgrew and sent a full anecdotal to UFT VP Catalina Fortino. She never responded, opting instead to share some notes from a meeting she had had with a department official.

This is the system that our union wants its members to evaluated along. We here at MORE recognize the disruptions it is causing to the learning process and strongly opposed to it. Help us share more ‘Danielson’ experiences of rank and file members. Click here to describe yours or convince your colleagues so that they can share theirs. The process only takes a few minutes.

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9 responses to Reports From the Field

  1. 

    Anything can be used as a weapon, it is not the object but the person that wields it. That being said my experience with the Danielson Rubric and my administrators was positive. They did not use it to determine the outcome of my evaluation, but as a tool to point out my strengths and weaknesses and I was open to their feedback because I am still a work in progress 🙂

  2. 

    Danielson rubric has not been approved to be used in the schools. Report to your chapter leaders who will report the evidence to the UFT. That’s how they get law suits won!

    • 

      It is not approved as the basis of the observation. That being said, if used AFTER the observation without any effect on the teacher’s rating, but simply to help the teacher improve their practice- it is allowed.

      • 

        Language from the Danielson Rubric is not allowed in an observation, but using it in everyday conversation with teachers, is allowed.

    • 

      Our school administrators told us (staff) that Danielson was approved and it is here to stay. The staff was not advised properly by the UFT rep. Is there anything in writing that can be shown to the administrators that Danielson method was not officially approved by the UFT?

  3. 

    There are many problems with Danielson . The Framework is… she notes herself… designed as a teacher-training tool and *not* as a teacher eval . However, that’s where the $$ is right now so I don’t think she’s going to scream bloody murder because systems are misusing it.

    The more fundamental problem, though, is the mediocrity of the people *using* the Framework for teacher eval. They are , for the most part, substandard ex-teachers with little experience or interest in the actual process.

    We continue to attract all the wrong people into administration for all the wrong reasons: money, ego, banker’s hours, and a burning desire to get the hell out of the classroom.

    Fortunately there is a simple , elegant solution: require that all admins teach 1/2 time. You’ll get higher quality evaluations from real educators who don’t need to use a checklist that any average 10 year old could fill-out…. probably supplying more useful feedback in the process.

  4. 

    I am glad to hear how many people included that the union responded to the abuses and got results. I am not surprised that gotcha administrators took a gotcha approach. Sometimes an AP’s write up documents their ignorance better than a reply letter could. Paul’s eval might as well have a domain “evaluator’s understanding” checked N/A

  5. 

    Your own blog, “Reports From the Field | morecaucusnyc” was indeed
    truly worth commenting on! Just simply needed to say u did a superb work.
    Thanks for your time ,Hung

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Are Your Better Off Now Than You Were Three Years Ago? « morecaucusnyc - February 11, 2013

    […] rubric that Unity has endorsed but which is not supposed to be used for evaluations at this point. Abuses of Danielson are frequent. Common Core standards have been imposed upon us despite the fact that the state has not developed […]

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