P.S. 97

By the numbers

New York

School leaders share Danielson concerns at union-led trainings

Teachers brainstorm where features of the ideal classroom fit into the Danielson Framework's four domains. Training sessions about a classroom observation model opened up dialogue between teachers and principals this month, even after becoming a flashpoint in the city and teachers union's ongoing conflict over a new evaluation system. The city and union planned to host trainings on the teaching model the city hopes to adopt for its new evaluation system together. But after Mayor Bloomberg ratcheted up rhetoric against the union in the State of the City address, the union cut city officials out of the planning. The sessions began two weeks ago, drawing hundreds of attendees even after the Department of Education emailed principals informing them that the sessions were off. I spent an afternoon last week at a training session at the United Federation of Teachers' Bronx headquarters, where well over 100 union chapter leaders and their principals were receiving a crash-course on the Danielson Framework, a classroom observation model that serves as one component of the city's proposed evaluation system. The city has encouraged principals to practice using the Danielson Framework when conducting informal classroom observations this school year, and 140 schools have been piloting the observation model more formally. As an impasse over new teacher evaluations has deepened between the city and the UFT, a tension has emerged about whether the model is meant first to help teachers improve — the union’s position — or whether it is a tool to help principals usher weak teachers out of the system, as the city’s rhetoric has sometimes suggested. Catalina Fortino, the UFT’s vice president of education, said the purpose of the training sessions is to foster "a shared understanding" of the model for teachers and principals — an understanding that the city’s pilot of the Danielson framework had failed to develop, she said.