Reflecting On Feedback: Updates To The FFT And How They Apply To Your School

August 31, 2021

Over the last decade, new research has taught us more about how effective teaching can transform student learning and well-being, especially in a rapidly changing world. Throughout the process of updating the Framework for Teaching (FFT), we have worked hard to reflect this new research, so that today’s teachers can apply that knowledge in their classrooms and be more effective with students from all backgrounds.

We also want to ensure that any changes we make will accurately reflect the lived experiences of educators, actively support professional learning and growth, and enhance the ability of coaches and mentors to support educators in an ever-evolving context. To do this, we asked for the help of our community.

Over the last few weeks, we surveyed 250 administrators and educators to gather their reactions and feedback on some of the possible updates to the FFT. As wework to finalize this updated tool, we wanted to share a few lessons from the results that could be helpful in starting this school year strong:

  • Prioritize student well-being. Some of the biggest shifts to the updated FFT involve an increased focus on and prioritization of student well-being. We asked educators and administrators about the importance of creating welcoming and inclusive classrooms, leveraging culturally responsive pedagogy, and prioritizing social-emotional learning as a distinct focus area. Overwhelmingly, we heard that these kinds of shifts are critical for student success, perhaps now more than ever before. Educators and administrators alike reacted to these upcoming shifts in the FFT with enthusiasm and gratitude – putting a greater focus on the well-being of students and on valuing the identities of every child feels like a necessity in our modern classrooms. With this in mind, it seems clear that setting explicit, school-wide goals around these priorities – and building in the training, structures, and supports to make them achievable – is a necessary step to meeting the needs of both educators and students going into this school year. 
  • Details, examples, and training are critical. Many of the comments in our survey centered on an eagerness to see the fully updated FFT and a request that the Danielson Group continue providing explicit details and definitions of each updated component and level of performance, concrete examples of how teachers can bring this to life in their daily practice, and training for both administrators and educators on these exciting shifts. Through these results, it’s clear that even shifts that have the full support of the education community (such as the one mentioned above) still require explicit professional development, dedicated and protected space for collaboration and learning, and environments that facilitate open and constructive feedback. If you are going to make any changes this year, make sure those changes are paired with plenty of training, time to process and learn, and lots of examples in order to help educators have the best possible impact on their students.
  • Balance flexibility with clear expectations. While we must continue to honor and respect the profession of teaching, the updated FFT seeks to pair the traditional concept of professionalism with increased flexibility, a greater respect for the varying contexts in which educators operate, and a renewed focus on what’s best for students. Overall, these shifts resonated with both educators and administrators. Educators still desire clarity on expectations and yet they also deeply appreciate the opportunity and freedom to adjust their instruction and classroom environments in a way that allows them to both teach authentically and meet the unique needs of the students they serve. Administrators must hold this balance, always seeking to set clear goals but leaving the pathway to reaching those goals open for innovation and individualization. Using a tool such as the FFT, with a focus on learning, reflection, and growth, can be an effective way to meet this need for educators.

After reviewing the results of this survey, we hope that some of the lessons we learned can be applied right now to help facilitate excellent instruction and improve student learning as we start a new school year. We are more excited than ever to bring this updated tool to the education community and we are eager to provide a common language that creates the freedom for educators and school communities to apply the FFT as they work to meet the needs of all students. We look forward to sharing more about our updates as we continue to preview changes and get additional input on the updated FFT in the coming months. Stay tuned!