Thursday, December 04, 2014

The Charlotte Danielson Nightmare

Have you heard of the Danielson Framework for Teaching? It's a teacher evaluation tool.

It's 27 pages long.

It works like a scoring rubric: 4 to 3.5 = highly effective
                                                 3 to 2.65 = effective
                                                 2.65 and below = double secret probation

The model has four "domains" and over 22 subcategories within those domains. Only two of the four domains have anything to do with classroom activities. The other two have to do with planning, grading, collegiality, etc. etc. etc.

This thing is a nightmare. Go ahead and look it up if you want a case of vertigo.

I had my first bout of Danielson evaluation today. And it was not pretty, let me tell you. I didn't care at all that the woman gave me "partially effective" on my classroom teaching. But not deeming me highly effective for the lesson plans I created for the world wide web about my husband's book has me thumbing through the Bored God Craigslist Ads for a deity who will have nothing to do but smite her.

On any given day any evaluator is going to tear up your best lesson. They are paid to criticize, and they aren't gentle about it.

But the Danielson model is supposed to give credit for things done outside the classroom that enrich the teaching profession.

It doesn't.

I showed my evaluator the wonderful, thoughtful lesson plans I provided this nation's teachers absolutely free of charge. It happens I was using them for the class she observed, that's why they were pertinent. She said because I didn't create them during this school year, they didn't count. This, apparently, is district policy. NEVER MIND that I was USING THEM for the class.

I seriously doubt that my district even has a policy covering online content created by its teachers, because none of them have done it but me.

Picky, distracting shit like this, which teachers have to grasp for like thirsty demons in Hell, is an outcome of getting a numerical score on an evaluation.

The evaluators will tell you until they're blue in the face that it's not about the number. Mine got very vexed with me when I wrote my score on the white board:

2.89

and said I wanted to find a way to get the other

.12

After much haggling, I was able to wrangle another .04 out of her by showing a little loophole in the Ridiculous Rubric that actually deems a teacher "highly effective" for being able to get newspaper clippings off Google!

So, there you have it. A teacher can create a published unit of study for an award-winning book, and that's not highly effective. But that same teacher can Google "Brittnany Maynard," find an article, and that's highly effective.

I hate this profession.

Before you comment (again), "Why are you doing it, then?" I will tell you:

Two days ago, The Spare fell flat on her face when she tripped over a wire in her apartment. After 24 hours she had developed blurred vision and a bad headache. She and her dad spent last evening (until well after midnight) in the local emergency room. She had a CAT scan that revealed a concussion but no bleeding.

THAT'S WHY I'M DOING THIS. She's on my health plan.

Few professions provide health care anymore, and politicians are working like fiends to get around having to give it to teachers. That's where torture instruments like the Danielson Framework for Teaching come in handy. The harder they make it for teachers to be artistic about their work, the more likely the older, more experienced, and more creative teachers will bail.

Why did I ever cease to be a goat judge? I miss those little cloven-hoofed charmers!

4 comments:

Lucretia said...

I don't think you hate the teaching profession, Anne. You hate the asshats that are turning teaching into a circus highwire act, with a vat of boiling oil below it and no net, just because they CAN.

It's scary to realize that someday all the really good teachers will be gone, replaced by goose-stepping morons who tow the current political line, whatever that is. I hope I don't live that long.

Anti Kate said...

I'm sorry this is happening. For you, and for all the other teachers and for all the students that will be the ultimate losers because of it. But I have to say, your writing makes it sound almost funny.

But mostly? WHAT goats? I want to hear about goats.

Anne Johnson said...

In another lifetime I was a goat judge. No, just kidding ... kidding ... hahaha! When I first started the blog, I listed "goat judge" as my occupation because I'd just been to a county fair.

Lori F said...

How you teach shouldn't be as important as how well the students learn. Keep being the best teacher you can.