Frameworks, Frameworks Everywhere

When CRISS started updating our manual and training, we categorized our "Principles and Philosophy" into the CRISS Frameworks for Teaching and Learning. The new categories then drove all the edits. During this difficult and long process, other "Frameworks" were developed or became more popular. Most notably, Danielson's popular Framework for Teaching and related evaluation model (the evaluation model is my focus here).

The Danielson Framework is considerate, widely used, and respects the profession of teaching by acknowledging there are different ways to get to the same proficient or distinguished end point--teachers can work their strengths and react to the unique constraints of their classroom and students. MY opinion is that it's a fair model that applies to most teachers. I also think Project CRISS provides (interesting, relevant) professional development that supports the main ideas of the Danielson Framework.

I just wish "Framework" wasn't a term we shared. It makes some things confusing to explain to teachers using both us and Danielson. So here are a few things I want those teachers to know:

  • The CRISS Framework for Teaching (FfT) isn't a lesson plan format. One of our workshop's essential questions is "How can you integrate the CRISS Framework for Teaching into your own classroom instruction?". We want participants to understand their strengths and areas of growth and then modify what already works for them in a way that will continue to work for them with the end result of helping students learn to learn.

    Yes, we have planning templates based on the CRISS FfT but the point of the FfT is to facilitate student metacognition: How can we organize and deliver instruction so students not only learn the content but learn to learn? How do we get students to internalize the Framework for Learning? Students don't internalize the Framework for Learning just because they recieve instruction that follows the Framework for Teaching (thus the reason we have a CRISS workshop). It's a nuanced process; that's why we tried to simplify all the research-based principles behind good instruction into easy to handle Frameworks. What we don't want is the term "Framework" to actually add to the confusion and we know it can, especially when other Frameworks pop up. (Want more info on how to differentiate the Frameworks? Check out the article starting on page 9 here.

  • Frameworks in FrameworksThe Framework for Learning (FfL) applies to all new information. It outlines how learners should prepare for learning before attacking new information, methods to engage with content while taking in the new info, ideas for transforming info after, and then reflecting on both what they learned and how they learned. It applies at big unit levels down to a 2 minute video clip. The point is no matter what you consider the "new information", teachers need to allow students to prepare for, engage with, transform after, and reflect upon new info. Thus, the Framework for Teaching includes those areas, too. But again, just as students need to internalize the FfL, teachers need to own the FfT and work it into their own planning process. Below is a sketch of what I mean. Hopefully it kinda sorta makes sense. Click the image for a larger version.

  • The CRISS Framework for Teaching doesn't have a simple 1:1 relationship with Danielson. We can't simply say Domain 3b is addressed by our Engage and Transform component and you should go to Chapter 4 for strategies that may help address that domain in your classroom. I mean, in that case, I kinda can because 3b is about Questioning and Discussion and Chapter 4 is about Discussion including Questioning but, in general, it's not so neat. I made this very basic handout that I didn't even run by the Director (Dr. Debra Franciosi) that helps illustrate the relationships. It's vague; look at it with a copy of the Danielson eval model next to you.

But the most important thing I want teachers to know is not to get hung up on it. Leave getting ever-so-slightly-annoyed at this insignificant detail to me and put your energy into just being a rock-star educator.