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Reflections on Teaching

Aja Harvey

Drexel University School of Education


Journal Entry

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Today was an unusual day. A two-hour delay was called in response to the nor’easter

that hit the area the day prior. With two-hour delays, the school day is more chaotic with the

change in schedule. On these days, school officially starts at 10:40am. The class goes about its

normal morning routine of completing jobs and working on some activity, such as reading,

writing, or math to stimulate their thinking. Following the announcements at about 11:00, we

held morning meeting. The students reported the date, the weather, the number of days we’d

been in school so far, the day’s specials and the attendance. We then formed a circle on the rug,

and I informed the students of the greeting which was passed around the circle. After the

greeting, those students that share on Thursday had their chance to hold Ted the share bear and

tell their news.

Sharing went right until lunch, so we did not read the morning message at that time.

When the class returned from lunch, there was a short period of mindfulness before P.M. circle,

when the student with the job of inspector shared about how lunch was. The class then dispersed

to go to their Go Blue intervention period classrooms. In our class, the 2 sub-groups split time

between working with my cooperating teacher for guided reading and working with me

completing word work. Today, with me, the groups completed word sorts for words ending in -

nd, -nk, and -nt. Next, they were given worksheets to help them isolate chunks. We focused on

ai, and ay, as we have been teaching vowel teams in Wilson. The students needed to locate and

color the chunk in each word. After they colored in each chunk, I had the students read the

words to me. Having them color the chunk first really helped get those students that have the

tendency to look only at the beginning sound to focus on the center of the words.

After Go Blue, the homeroom students returned. We read the morning message through

which I asked the students what their favorite animal was as an introduction to the days writing

lesson. The students then quickly joined their tables to make a prediction about the temperature

outside. We went outside to observe the days weather before returning to the classroom to fill

those observations in their weather journals. Once that was done, we moved into our writing

lesson. I chose to do a lesson introducing students to writing about their opinions.

I began by allowing the students to share with a partner their favorite animal and why. I

wanted to display the difference between a fact and an opinion. I asked a student to share the

difference, and then I clarified for them. I think moved to explain that we would be writing our

opinions that day on our favorite animals. The first step was for the students to draw a picture of

their animal and from that picture create a web that needed to include at least 4 reasons they like

that animal. The students had about 5-7 minutes to work on their picture web before I gathered

them back at the rug to explain the checklist that would be used to help them through the

expected steps of their writing.

The students needed to write an introductory sentence which I provided a sentence starter

for: “My favorite animal is…” They then needed at least 3 sentences supporting why they like

the animal, but I chose to require they think of 4 facts on their web in hopes of pushing students

to try and write more than the required 5 total sentences. Finally, they were asked to try and

make a closing sentence along the lines of “This is why __ is my favorite animal.” After going

over the sentence starter and explaining the checklist, I sent the students back to their seats to

write for roughly 15 minutes and circulated, reading as they wrote and finding their writing to be

quite impressive considering they don’t have a dedicated writing curriculum. With about 5

minutes left in our lesson, I asked the students to turn in their web, checklist and writing to me,

take a 5 second drink and sit on the rug.

Once I received everyone’s work and the students sat back on the rug, I had them pair up

with a classmate. Each student needed to share their favorite animal with their partner and one

reason that they like that animal. Once the partners had shared, they were asked to share with the

class, but instead of a student sharing their thoughts, I decided to have the students report on

what their partners said, so that everyone had to participate in the pair sharing. Once each

student shared their partner’s favorite animal, I turned the class over to my cooperating teacher,

because I was observed during this lesson and met with my supervisor. The meeting ran past

time for specials, and, following specials, students were dismissed for the day. Today really

shows how important flexibility and adjustment is to being able to run a classroom.


Looking back at this day in relation to the Danielson Framework, I see growth in

comparison to previous days. As I stated in the journal entry, it was quite an unusual day due to

the late start. The most prevalent component of Danielson’s framework displayed on this day is

3e- demonstrating flexibility and responsiveness. My lessons for the day were written days in

advance and were meant to be taught during a regular day of teaching. I was prepared to teach

math that day, and science/writing was meant to be a full 40-minute lesson, however, the weather

is unpredictable and the school district will make calls based on the safety of the students. With

the truncated schedule, I had to be extremely flexible and ready to adjust instantaneously. The

day’s word work in Go Blue was not originally planned to be word work and identifying chunks,

but we knew it would be a better use of the shortened time.


For science, the most important outcome set by the curriculum is teaching the students to

observe and make educated guesses using prior knowledge on the weather. My not being able to

teach a full lesson did not affect this outcome. I took the students outside to observe as we

normally do, and we continued to discuss the weather and related phenomena, like the water

cycle by starting with the observed weather and using that to talk about what is necessary for it to

snow or rain, and what causes the weather to change from day to day, etc. I used the weather

from the previous day to help us through this day’s discussion as we talked about how the wind

pushed the weather out leaving us with sun and blue skies. We talked about where the snow

would go as it melted. In the end, this day was perfect as the change became a great teaching

moment about weather.

Other components that I feel are clearly demonstrated on this day are 1f- designing

student assessments; 2b- establishing a culture of learning; 3a- communicating with students; and

3c- engaging students in learning. For component 1f, this was my first time using a checklist.

When planning this lesson, I didn’t want to use a rubric because the students do not receive

grades, and I also thought a rubric would be too difficult for many of the students to understand.

I chose a checklist because I wanted an assessment that they could use to begin practicing self-

assessment. The checklist showed me which students understood and followed the directions

given and which were less serious about their work by either not completing the checklist, or

having a checklist that does not match their writing. The checklist was a clear measure of my

expected outcomes as those outcomes were individual steps that needed to be checked off. I felt

it worked well as my cooperating teacher and I felt this was the best writing the class had

presented all year, and we were extremely excited to include it as part of report cards for the

second term.

Component 2b was present through my expectations. While my checklist was chosen as

a less complicated form of assessment, it still showed high expectations as I did not break the

writing process down into each individual piece to guide students. I wanted them to be able to

create in their own voice and see how well they could handle the expectations without direct

guidance through each step. The same goes for our science observations. I expect a lot from

them, and so I normally let the students lead the discussion by asking open-ended questions, such

as “What do you see?” opening the floor for many possible answers, and, as one student shares,

that can lead other students to observe or make an inference that continues our weather


Communicating with students is present throughout the day, but is most prevalent within

the writing lesson. During the earlier part of the day, my morning message is a form of written

communication that starts the day. I was very careful in the language I chose for the checklist,

and made sure to model and go over how students were to work on their writing, so that even

without guiding them through each step, they had a visual and verbal reference to what was

expected of them.

And finally, engaging students is built into the day. From beginning to end, students are

engaged as investors in their education through their jobs, class procedures, and instruction. In

the morning students are engaged in classroom jobs; completing the class news, taking lunch

count and attendance, etc. During morning meeting all students are involved as everyone greets

each other and there is a ‘questions and comments’ portion to the sharing aspect of the meeting.

For the morning message this day, I was also able to incorporate total engagement as each

student wrote on a sticky telling what animal they might choose to write about, which we

discussed for a short period. This served as an early introduction and brainstorm to the writing

lesson for the students. I then included think-pair-shares with the students at the beginning of

writing and even at the end, to close the lesson.

I find this reflection most interesting, because I am looking at not just one domain, but 3

different domains. It has given me a deeper look into how each domain really connects and

blends into the others when the balance is found in one’s “teacher personality.” I think that

understanding of the interconnectedness of the domain is my greatest take away from this

reflection. Education is really a melting pot of so many different strategies and theories, people

and objects, coming together to do one simple job, teach students. In light of this realization, I

will continue to blend the domains as I work to form my teaching personality and serve my

students to the best of my ability.



Danielson, C. (2013). The Framework for Teaching Evaluation Instrument (2013 ed.).

Danielson group & Teachscape. Retrieved from