Teachers and Teaching

Katie Lapham: Can You Teach without Charlotte Danielson’s Rubric?

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Some of us are old enough to remember a time when there were no “rubrics” for teaching. Teachers learned how to teach in their teacher preparation programs and as student teachers; they struggled the first year or two, and if they were lucky, an older teacher helped them get better. And then they were good teachers, able to manage the class, deal with discipline issues, and lead their students to whatever they were teaching.

But these days, there is a formula for almost everything (except what matters most, like living a good life, coping with adversity, managing the stresses and strains of a culture that bombards us with more information and sensation than we can handle).

In teaching, there is the rubric created by Charlotte Danielson.

Katie Lapham, who teaches in the New York City public schools, thinks back to what inspired her when she was a student in Atlanta. Her teacher never heard of the Danielson rubric or the Marzano method. Yet he was the one who changed her life.

After seeing Michael Elliott’s wonderful film about the drama teachers who changed his life, Katie wrote:

While these lifelong teachers, now retired, had different teaching styles, interests and personalities, they all taught with passion and instinct, traits not measurable by a rubric. They also had freedom and autonomy, conditions that motivate teachers and boost their morale. The current path that we are on – the standardization of teaching and learning and the narrowing of curriculum – is short-sighted and unsustainable. It unfortunately deprives students of experiences that Michael Elliot touchingly describes in his short film. Eileen Daniel Riddle, James Gilchrist and Dr. Rick Chase are teachers who not only inspired students to expand their learning but also created spaces in which students could feel alive.

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