Review of Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching


Reviewed by Thomas Hansen

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Title: Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching, Second Edition
Author: Charlotte Danielson
Publisher: ASCD, Alexandria, VA
Publication Year: 2007
Pages: 199

Danielson presents a clear framework for evaluating and monitoring the work of classroom teachers, including four domains of emphasis for teaching in K-12 classrooms.  The author makes many suggestions, and many states and school districts have embraced her recommendations.  In some cases this is statewide by learning area; in other cases this has to do more with certain buildings or regions of a state. 

The four domains represent areas of responsibility for evaluating various classroom teachers—such as some dual language educators in elementary schools—or world language teachers in Illinois.  The four domains focus somewhat on more of a classroom-out approach than more of a community-based vision of teaching and curriculum.

Domain 1: Planning and Preparation explains the “…critical, behind-the-scenes work of organizing for instruction” (p. 43).  The effort teachers put into the actual teaching is often considerable, and this stage of instruction is essential.  Domain 2: The Classroom Environment includes establishing a respectful and comfortable learning setting in which all students feel safe.  Teachers participate actively and with interest in the learning process for the environment to be complete.  Domain 3: Instruction deals with the communication of ideas among students and teachers.  Included for successful communication are the goals of keeping students engaged and monitoring their growth through relevant assessment activities and instruments.  Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities includes a variety of instruction-supporting activities such as communicating successfully and regularly with families, engaging in professional development, and advocating for students and programs.

Each of the domains has a variety of sections to indicate more specific examples of the areas and activities fleshing out the responsibilities.  Although all members of the educational team within a building or district should be involved in fundraising and grant-writing activities, some districts also have curriculum specialists, grant writers, and other professionals helping secure funds for new projects, for needed technology, for research projects, and for other items that may be covered by the current budget. 

The Danielson framework includes four domains specifically for several other professionals in the district or building, such as the school nurses.  For the sake of discussion on grants and fundraising, it is interesting to consider the four domains specifically meant for the “instructional specialists” (p. 111-113).

As a consultant, I often help school districts, colleges, and regional offices of education with their fundraising and grant-writing efforts.  Explaining where such sessions fit within the framework for domains designed for teachers is relatively easy—they all have to do with professional development and support activities.

For instructional specialists specifically, here are recommendations for where various activities most likely fit:

Domain 3: Delivery of Service:
  • Locating Resources for Teachers:  Gifts of furniture, computers, books, software and other important needs dovetail into this area.  Sometimes called “grants” these are actually gifts—whether they are in-kind or in cash form.
Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities:
  • Preparing and Submitting Budgets and Reports:  Learning how to design budgets for grants is essential, as is understanding how to spend dollars in the correct line or “box” within a budget.  Working hand in hand with administrators in charge of watching the spending to make sure it is being done ethically is essential; in smaller districts this professional may be you!
  • Coordinating Work with Other Instructional Specialists:  Collaborating on grant projects across buildings is important for district-wide PD and other shared activities.  One added responsibility you have here is to make sure all teachers get to participate and all designated buildings in the project are represented.
  • Participating in a Professional Community:  Learning how to conduct fundraising activities, find good grant opportunities, and locate scholarships for teachers and students are all honorable and professional components of the specialist’s job.  Grant-writing sessions are available from consultants, professional organizations, online, and through some regional offices of education.
  • Showing Professionalism, Including Integrity and Confidentiality:  In working on grant budgets and fundraising tasks, you may become privy to many financial and administrative details that cannot be shared with others.  In general, discretion is advised when you are involved in these kinds of projects.
Both fundraising and grant writing are governed by a variety of codes and standards from several professional organizations.  Writing a grant and receiving a stipend if the grant is awarded is in direct violation of two standards of one such organization.

In no case whatsoever should a professional get a “percentage” of a grant after—and only if—it is awarded.  This is unprofessional and forces grant-writing duties into a debased category when in reality those seeking dollars for a building or district must be well-educated and flexible communicators with an understanding of a wide range of budgetary, educational, and PD issues.  Grant-writers, just like plumbers and dentists, need to be paid for doing their work—whether the grant is chosen for funding or not.

All of that having been said, it is also essential to strive for transparency and honesty.  Taxpayers and community members are stakeholders in the education of the young people—and the professional development of educators in the town or neighborhood where they pay taxes.

It is important for all community members to know that teaching is a complex process with many components.  Teachers already know how hard their job is and how demanding it can often be.  Their job is cognitively demanding when done well, and good teachers devote great energy to their trade.  Teaching should be thought of as “a thinking person’s job” and not a process of simply following an external curriculum (p. 2). 

The use of a clear framework can help chart out what it is good teachers strive to do and how well they are doing it.  The domains represent a traditional and school-based framework that includes all areas of emphasis essential for watching for and encouraging good teaching.  The book can be used in methods courses, teacher certification courses, and professional development (PD) sessions.  For ongoing PD, presenters can help teachers in the process of exploring where some of their activities and duties “fit” into the four domains.

Thomas Hansen, Ph.D., is an Independent Consultant with a variety of roles in Education and Advocacy. 

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