How can a teacher ensure that their classroom and instructional methods meet the expectations and guidelines of the Danielson evaluation standards? The Danielson Framework consists of four domains, which evaluate the success of an educator’s preparation, instruction, classroom environment, and professional responsibilities.
Below are some quick tips that can be implemented to ensure that daily practice aligns with those domains.
Domain 1: Planning and Preparation - Evaluates how teachers organize the content that students are expected to learn.
- Utilize the Backward Design Approach. The backward design approach builds on students’ prior knowledge. The first step when designing instruction in this manner is to identify the desired student learning outcome. Then, identify what the students currently know about the topic. Finally, design classroom instruction to address the unknown content between the students’ background knowledge and the desired outcome and determine the materials and assessments that will be used during the lesson to specifically address this gap.
- Apply Differentiated Instruction. While preparing lessons, keep in mind the skills, needs, and learning styles of your students. Plan a variety of materials and resources that will engage multiple levels of student learning. Strategies may include offering manipulatives or other hands-on activities, providing reading materials at varying reading levels, or creating activity centers that focus on the same shared learning standard. This instructional method meets the needs of individual students while ensuring that all students reach the same learning outcome.
Domain 2: Classroom Environment - Evaluates how the educator organizes the classroom environment to promote student learning.
- Promote Small Group Discussion. Splitting students into small groups can allow for unique instructional practices that allow students to interact with one another more directly. For example, allow groups of students to discuss a current event. In this activity, each student in the group must speak once before another member of the group has a second chance to speak. This allows each student to feel heard and emphasises an environment of respect.
- Arrange Classroom Furniture. The arrangement of classroom furniture can enhance and facilitate student learning. When considering classroom layout, be mindful of accessibility to other areas of the classroom and efficient traffic flow for all students. When appropriate, it may be beneficial to organize student’s desks into semi-circles or pods., which encourages small group work and peer-to-peer learning.
- Ask Open-Ended Questions. Ask open-ended questions to quickly assess student understanding. Asking for open-ended responses (rather than simple yes/no questions) encourages students to discuss and evaluate learned content. Once the students’ level of understanding is determined, adjust instructional methods accordingly to either reteach or enrich key objectives.
- Request a One-Sentence Summary. Another strategy to check for understanding is to set aside the last few minutes of each class and request that each student write one sentence to summarize the day’s lesson. Reviewing the summaries will help determine which instructional concepts need to be recapped at the start of the next class.
- Keep a Self-Reflection Journal. Ongoing self-assessment identifies strengths and weaknesses, while promoting continuous performance improvement. After a lesson or at the end of the school day, consider questions such as: Were the activities and assignments designed for high student engagement? What was the best “A-Ha!” moment of the day? What part of the lessons did not go as well as planned? How was the pacing and delivery of the lessons? Record these self-reflections in a teaching journal to review and implement changes in instruction over time.
- Maintain Accurate Records. An essential part of teaching is keeping accurate records for everything from student grades, to parent contacts, to Student Learning Outcome (SLO) plans. While documentation can be an overwhelming (but necessary) task, using available software, such as EmbraceEval®, makes completing and tracking SLO and evaluation documentation manageable.