I am always asked what I feel is the most important domain in the Framework for Teaching by Charlotte Danielson. We have often debated if evaluations should be weighted differently instead of having each domain worth 25% (I’ll save this for another post). Every domain is important, but I believe effective teaching comes down to being distinguished or approaching distinguished in two key areas: 3B and 3D.
3B- Whether it’s a walk-through, a visit, or a formal evaluation, you can quickly know the pulse of the class through questioning and discussion. What type of questions is the teacher asking? Are they higher-ordered? Are they tier 1, 2, or 3? What type of questions are students asking (I love this article that discusses why the question is more important then the answer)? If questions are higher-ordered (not closed and/or students can Google the answer), then students will be engaged in learning not only on the topic but with each other. Engagement and empowerment also equates to minimal to no classroom management issues. Higher-order questions also will show that the teacher is planned for their lesson; yes 3E does talk about flexibility but most higher order questions should be and need to be planned ahead of time.
3D- Are you starting with the end in mind and the why? How do you know students learned what you taught? If you cannot answer this question throughout and at the end of the class, then you really need to rethink what you are doing. Nothing frustrates me more then to watch a lesson taught and see a lack of formative assessment throughout the lesson and then no closure. Effective assessment needs to be timely and specific and it should drive your lesson the very next day. Does a topic need to be re-taught? Does the class show mastery of the objective/standard? What percentage of students show mastery? Does another approach or strategy need to be used to teach topic? If you are not using ongoing assessment and it does not drive your planning, your approach to your lesson, and how you are engaging and empowering your students, then please rethink your assessment methods in your classroom. Here are some resources:
101 Ways to Show What You Know – not every assessment (formative and summative) has to be your usual test, quiz, or benchmark. Give students multiple ways to show what they know.
I would love to discuss this more online (hit me up on Twitter) as discussion and challenging each other can only make us better. We always say we do not want teachers working in silos and the same holds true for leaders. We get better by working with each other, being honest, and challenging each other.