10 May


"...for teachers to learn, it's important for the teacher to be the one doing the intellectual work."

Danielson, C. (2016). Talk about teaching!: Leading professional conversations. Corwin.

THE MEAT (The Main Idea)

Charolette Danielson, renowned for her Teaching Framework, has made a significant impact in the field of education. Beyond her well-known framework, she authored "Talk About Teaching: Leading Professional Conversations," a book that has deeply resonated with me as I've immersed myself in her teachings and trainings. 

As an educational administrator responsible for evaluating teachers, I embraced Danielson's framework as the cornerstone of my evaluation practices. The lens through which I observed and evaluated teachers was crystal clear: "Who is doing the work?" In my professional development journey with the Danielson Group, I encountered the concept of "brain sweat" - this idea that learning is not always observable so be mindful of who is doing the deep thinking and learning. Reflecting on Danielson's quote, "...for teachers to learn, it's important for the teacher to be the one doing the intellectual work," I find myself appreciating the profound truth embedded within those words. In my work as a professional development specialist, I've always been mindful of ensuring that the burden of learning does not fall solely on me but on the participants themselves. In fact, I often remind my participants that if they walk away dissatisfied, the onus is on them. It is their learning, their growth that takes center stage, and I am dedicated to pivoting and adapting to meet their needs. 

When designing and crafting learning experiences, my aim has always been to empower participants to take ownership of their intellectual work. I wanted to create an environment where they could engage in deep thinking, wrestle with challenging concepts, and actively construct their own understanding. Danielson's quote serves as a gentle reminder that true learning occurs when individuals are fully engaged and actively doing the intellectual work.

THE CHEESE (Added Depth)

Application of the quote.

The quote by Charlotte Danielson, "...for teachers to learn, it's important for the teacher to be the one doing the intellectual work," holds significant relevance in my role as a coach for administrators. One way I apply this quote is by working closely with leaders to deepen their observational and evaluation skills. To achieve this, I have developed a unique approach where we enter classrooms together and observe instruction for a brief period, typically 5 minutes. As soon as we step out into the hallway, we engage in a discussion focused solely on the observations made. Guided by the principles of the quote, I facilitate the conversation by asking thought-provoking questions such as, "What glow would you leave for that teacher? And what grow?" This technique allows administrators to actively engage in the intellectual work of analyzing instructional practices, critically evaluating strengths, and identifying areas for growth.

By immersing themselves in the observation process and actively participating in reflective discussions, administrators gain a deeper understanding of effective teaching and are better equipped to provide meaningful support and feedback to their teachers. In this collaborative approach, administrators take ownership of their learning, actively engaging in the cognitive lifting of analyzing of instructional practices and generating insights. While I, as their coach, guide and facilitate these discussions, it is important to note that my role is not merely to dictate what they should learn. Instead, I recognize the distinction between my own learning and their learning, prioritizing their growth and fostering a collaborative environment where knowledge is co-constructed through shared inquiry and exploration. It's a win-win!

THE OLIVES (A Surprising Element)

As I reflect on Danielson's quote and its application in my coaching practice, it's fascinating to draw a parallel between the intellectual work of teachers and the art of preparing a charcuterie board. Just as teachers need to be the ones doing the cognitive lifting to deepen their understanding, it is the creator of the charcuterie board who carefully selects and arranges each element. In both cases, the individuals take ownership of their craft and actively engage in the creative process. The charcuterie board becomes a metaphor for professional learning, where the selection of ingredients represents the acquisition of knowledge, and the arrangement reflects the deliberate application and exploration of ideas. Just as a well-curated board invites guests to savor and appreciate the flavors, textures, and combinations, an intellectually engaging learning experience captivates participants, inviting them to delve into the complexities of their professional practice. So, let us savor the spirit of the charcuterie board and embark on a delectable journey of intellectual nourishment and growth, where each thoughtful slice of learning adds flavor to our professional practice and expands the palette of possibilities.

As you reflect on the power of teachers taking ownership of their intellectual work and the application techniques discussed, I invite you to join the conversation. Share your thoughts, experiences, and additional strategies for promoting active engagement in professional learning. Let's engage in a collective dialogue to further enrich our understanding and inspire one another on this journey of continuous growth. Together, we can cultivate a community of educators dedicated to fostering meaningful learning experiences and empowering learners at all levels. Don't hesitate to leave a comment below and let your voice be heard!

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