Wednesday, April 8, 2015

April 8 - Following student's lead, The Framework in action

One of my favorite sub-domains of the Danielson Framework is 3E: Demonstrating Flexibility and Responsiveness. I say it is my favorite because it validates what I do with students all the time - follow their lead.

I love the freedom that following students allows me. I do not fear throwing my lesson plans up in the air because a student asks a question which sparks a conversation that leads to investigation.

Several years ago while teaching in a classroom, a student noticed that our school had a daily student news show but that there have never been any of the DHH students on the program. He asked, "Can we have our own news show?" WOW, the discussion that entailed over the next 30 minutes was powerful.

The result: the students were going to create a special Deaf Awareness news show. All my ELA lesson plans for the next few weeks were tossed aside while I allowed the students to discuss segment options, conduct research, interview Deaf adults, write scripts, rehearse and record the show. The video was broadcasted to the entire school and uploaded to my account. It was a huge hit! When I went back to look at all the standards covered by following their lead, it was mindblowing! An archive of the video can be seen here. Of course they loved it so much that we had to do another one the following fall. Also, in following years there have been DHH students serving as co-anchor and in the camera crew for the school news.

Recently while I was serving as a peer observer, a teacher "warned" me that sometimes she has to shift gears in the middle of a lesson if she sees that it is not going as planned. She said she sometimes has to backtrack or move sideways as she is teaching in order to achieve her lesson goals.

The first thing I thought was, why is she warning me? Does she not know that this is what exemplary teachers do?

I promptly pulled out the Framework and showed her this domain. We then talked about how adjusting lessons is what great teaching is all about. She was stunned! This is a veteran teacher who is held in high regards by her principal but is very humble in her abilities.

While observing her, she did indeed demonstrate flexibility when her students were not understanding the concept. It was like watching a television show where actors are giving the liberty for improvisation. When we watch the show, we have no idea what is scripted and what is improvised!

The more I learn about and apply the Framework to my teaching and to the peers I observe, the more I realize how powerful this tool is in ensuring high quality teaching for all students!

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