Danielson’s FFT: 3a-Communicating with Students

Danielson Venn

(From Charlotte Danielson’s Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching-2nd Edition)

Component 3a of Danielson’s FFT consists of four elements that include: expectations for learning, directions & procedures, explanation of content, and use of oral/written language. Here, Danielson encourages us to move beyond a basic monologue as we communicate with students…after all, we don’t want to stifle engagement before the lesson even begins! Believe it or not, this portion of the Framework is a direct function of Components 1a (demonstrating knowledge of content/pedagogy) & 1b (demonstrating knowledge of students), and therefore supplies evidence for these “off stage” components.

When communicating with students, the distinguished teacher ensures that expectations, content & vocabulary are presented in a manner that invites student interactions. This is where we “hook” our students by knowing what to model/scaffold, how to tap schema, and what information to withhold!

Additionally, the teacher’s use of language throughout the process is vivid, rich, and error free, affording students the opportunity to hear language used in an authentic manner, extending their own vocabularies. It is the difference between discussing “talking marks” vs. “quotation marks” or “reading between the lines” vs. “making an inference.”

Some critical attributes of a classroom environment that effectively addresses the elements of 3a include the following characteristics:

  • The teacher points out possible areas for misunderstanding proactively, and ensures that learning goals and directions are clear to all students.
  • The explanation of content is scaffolded/modeled accurately with the teacher communicating clearly and imaginatively, using rich language & vocabulary to bring the content to life.
  • The teacher invites students to explain and extend the content with classmates to ensure understanding for everyone.
  • Students are engaged in authentic tasks that are linked to the curriculum and that allow all students to indicate understanding.

In short, our goal (when focusing on this particular lens) is to to encourage students to think on their own and contribute, as we convey information in authentic ways.

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