Teaching Music in a Common Core World

This fall, I am taking another grad course through VanderCook College of Music entitled Teaching Music in a Common Core World taught by Bill Koch, a former Illinois band director who retired to start an educational consulting firm to help music educators undergo teacher evaluation.

I am already quite excited about what we have been doing with this course. Our textbook is the National Association for Music Education’s workbook entitled Building and Evaluating  Effective Music Educators in the School Ensemble. It uses the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching, a series of rubrics for evaluating teachers across four domains, each with 5-6 components. My school district has begun using the Danielson Framework for our evaluations, and this course has already been an immense help.

Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching
As I mentioned before, the Danielson Framework incorporates four domains of teacher responsibility. These domains function as categories for a total of twenty-two components which describe a distinct aspect of those responsibilities. Each component has a few elements that are scaled across a rubric from 1-4 (unsatisfactory, basic, proficient, distinguished). The Danielson website goes into a bit more detail, but here is a broad overview:

  1. Planning and Preparation
    1. Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy
    2. Demonstrating Knowledge of Students
    3. Setting Instructional Outcomes
    4. Demonstrating Knowledge of Resources
    5. Designing Coherent Instruction
    6. Designing Student Assessments
  2. Classroom Environment
    1. Creating an Environment of Respect and Rapport
    2. Establishing a Culture for Learning
    3. Managing Classroom Procedures
    4. Managing Student Behavior
    5. Organizing Physical Space
  3. Instruction
    1. Communicating with Students
    2. Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques
    3. Engaging Students in Learning
    4. Using Assessment in Instruction
    5. Demonstrating Flexibility and Responsiveness
  4. Professional Responsibilities
    1. Reflecting on Teaching
    2. Maintaining Accurate Records
    3. Communicating with Families
    4. Participating in the Professional Community
    5. Growing and Developing Professionally
    6. Showing Professionalism

District Teacher Evaluation
Our teacher evaluation occurs over a process of three years and revolves around a document called an Individual Teacher Professional Development Plan (ITPDP). Academic and behavior goals for student achievement are set at the district, building, PLC, and individual level, many of which overlap. For our individual academic and behavior goals, we create action steps for our own learning to better help our students achieve. We correlate the goals to Iowa Teaching Standards and Danielson Components, and we identify indicators for how and when the students show progress towards achieving the goals.

Our ITPDPs are living documents that are created as Google Docs for both us and our administrators to access. Throughout the course of the year, our administrators informally walk-through our classroom at least twice to provide feedback on our teaching using the rubrics for the Danielson Components we identified in our ITPDP. These evolve over the course of the three years through several conferences with our administrator to a formal observation. We work with our administrator to provide evidence that we are meeting the Iowa Teaching Standards and Danielson Components.

I am actually quite excited to be using this process for our teacher evaluation. No longer am I developing a binder full of artifacts for the eight Iowa Teaching Standards and their forty-three criteria. Instead, I am identifying areas of my teaching that need growth and setting goals for improving my teaching.

Teaching Music in a Common Core World
We are now beginning the third week of this twelve-week online course. VanderCook uses an online application called Schoology to distribute classroom materials, facilitate online discussion, and submit assignments. The first week had us describing our jobs and comparing and contrasting our teacher evaluation system to the guidelines recommended by NAfME. The second through fifth weeks of the course have us progressing through the four domains of the Danielson Framework. I plan on posting my work for each of these as we progress through the assignments of this course to document my learning. I am greatly looking forward to this learning!

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