Friday, August 8, 2014

H.E.A.T.: The Gestalt of the Danielson Teacher Evaluation

In psychology, the term, gestalt, traditionally signifies that the sum or whole are greater than the individual parts. In teacher evaluation, H.E.A.T. is the gestalt of the entire Danielson Teacher Evaluation process. The acronym, H.E.A.T. (Higher order thinking, Engaged learning, Authentic connections, Technology use) is embedded throughout the four domains of the Danielson Model addressing all of the categories in Domain 1: Planning and Preparation, Domain 2: Classroom Environment, and Domain 3: Instruction.

You may ask, “So what?” Well, for one reason: simplicity. Using H.E.A.T. makes it relatively easy to track teacher progress in the classroom using the standardized H.E.A.T. Framework and a mobile device. By collecting individual or campus aggregate H.E.A.T. walkthrough data to organize meaningful and authentic professional development interventions, the process of improving instructional practices becomes both targeted and achievable.

Since many of the Danielson categories are integrated with one another, attempting to build individualized professional development interventions by telling teachers that they need to work on isolated categories such as, Domain 1: Category 1D, Domain 2: Category 2A, or Domain 3: Category 3C is akin to mixing paint colors at a local Home Depot, not improving classroom instructional practices. H.E.A.T. provides the needed thread to tie together the entire teacher evaluation process.

Ultimately, what improves professional practice in the classroom is not a formal observation form that is completed two or three times a year, but the ongoing dialogue between campus leaders and teachers using common vocabulary in a non-threatening, collaborative coaching environment. Turning up the H.E.A.T. is not a buzzword, but an empirically-validated lens to view the impact of best practices research on student learning in the classroom.