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RUNNING HEAD: Classroom Observation 1

Classroom Observation
Yaritza Orellana
National University
RUNNING HEAD: Classroom Observation 2

Every classroom I have observed in the past has been a completely eye-opening experience.

In contrast to my other observations, Sierra Elementary and High School is private, independent,

and small. As I got to the school, the teacher provided me with a tour to the entire school. There

was a total of six classrooms. The average number of students per classroom consisted of about

fifteen students. The teacher I observed was Ms. Hurshman.

The way in which material is split up in classrooms is distinctive to other schools because

of the smaller number of students in a private school. As I walked into the classroom that I was

going to be observing I realized that it was a combination of fourth and fifth graders. There was a

total of twelve students in the classroom. Their behavior was extremely impressive. Being the first

time ever observing a private school, I noticed that their level of education was unique to students

at a public school.

For one, as someone who attended public school my entire life I had never seen a group of

students so well put together with such little demand being placed. They had their entire routine

down throughout the beginning of my observation to the end. The students were greeted by the

door individually with a smile and a “good morning.” As they all walked up to their seats, the

teacher starts them off with a positive quote and has them repeat after her. Then, the teacher

proceeds to show the students a cat video, just to start off their day on a positive note. Lastly,

before beginning any actual lesson for the day, she moved on to meditation. The students meditated

for about ten minutes. As an observer I realized prior to beginning the lesson that having students

meditate before could be beneficial. It was nice even as an observer to witness.

The teacher had written down the agenda on the white board, where she indicated the time

they would start a lesson and the time it would end, so students knew exactly what their day would

consist of. The first lesson was math. During math, the teacher split up the students in groups of
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four. All students complied once the teacher placed the demand. They all opened up their math

books and started off right where they left off the previous day. The teacher sat with one group

and the teacher assistant sat with another group. The students from the other groups walked up to

her individually when they had questions regarding their context. The teacher would explain the

material, then provide the students with another example on the whiteboard to see if the student

could complete the math problem individually. If so, the student would walk back to their group

and continue working on their assignment. If the student still had some trouble, the teacher took

her time explaining the material so that they understood.

I was truly amazed by how well-behaved all students were. Although they were separated

into groups, the students worked on their assignment individually. They remained quiet the entire

time and helped each other when other peers were struggling. At ten o’ clock, the students were

dismissed from their seats and they left the class for a fifteen-minute recess break.

When the kids returned from their recess break, it was time for them to review their

homework lesson. At that time, they were all seated in their desks and the teacher lectured in the

front of the class. As the teacher went over their lesson, students raised their hands to ask questions

and the teacher was very mindful and knowledgeable in the material she was presenting to them.

Their homework assignment was to write a story and to be consistent with the point of view of

their choice. This lesson went on until ten forty-five and once time was up, the students were

designated into their reading groups, where they read and worked together once again.

This entire experience was a lot different than imagined. As having interned for a third-

grade class at a public school, I had envisioned it to be fairly similar. Little did I know that public

and private school settings are poles apart. It was amazing to visit a school setting that I had never

been a part of before.

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Throughout my observation, I noticed that there was a prominent culture difference

between public and private school settings. Prior to this observation, this idea had not come to

mind. As I was sitting in the classroom during my observation, I reflected on the cultural

differences that these school possess. Something Springs (2018) frequently mentions is the idea of

equality of opportunity. Specifically, the idea of all children being able to achieve an education

(Springs, 2018).

The truth is, when it comes to public and private school differences, it is not necessarily

about what the school or the teacher does differently, but about what the parents/ guardians do.

The way in which the parents strongly encourage the students at these private schools can be

dramatically different than those who attend public schools. Not to say that most parents at public

schools do not care, because that it obviously not the case, but at public schools there is a number

of parents who are not as involved in their children’s education lives and that it where the true

difference derives.

This leads me to discuss an interview question that was directed to Ms. Hurshman during

my field observation. When asked about her biggest challenge as an educator at a private school

setting, she stated that she really felt that teachers at public school settings have the ability to

impact children’s lives specifically those who are in need and do not have the support at home.

She mentioned that since parents are so involved with her students progress in this particular

setting she very rarely has to step in. Whereas, at a public school setting she recalls it as being

much different, so it is something she has learned to adjust to.

Throughout the course, the importance of teacher collaboration has been a major topic. In

fact, Lily Jones (2014) states that there is research that indicates that students not only benefit from

teacher collaboration, but that students showed an increase in understanding the subject matter.
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Another major difference between public and private schools that she has found is teacher

collaboration. Though student collaboration is very common in her classroom, teacher

collaboration is not necessary, due to the different level of classes. She did discuss how important

teacher collaboration was when she was student teaching at a public-school setting and indicated

how she also felt teacher collaboration produced a positive outcome for both, the students and the


As Ms. Hurshman and I discussed the circumstance of the fourth and fifth-graders being

combined into one class, she revealed how that could be a minor challenge as an educator

especially when the levels between some subjects vary between the different grades. For example,

teaching history is a challenge for her because since both grades are learning different sections,

she has to figure out how to educate both without wasting the others time. What she has found is

that the best way to manage that is to split the grades up and both classes learn the subject at the

same time. While she works with one group, the teacher aid works with the other. Although, she

believes this is effective for all students, she did mention that it is a challenge for her since she

feels it may interfere with student learning. Slavin and Hopkins (2012), discuss how some teachers

possess an “intentional teacher” quality and I feel that like, Ms. Hurshman, such teachers seek for

the best outcome for their students.

At last, when asked about how her classroom structure has changed from when she first

started to teach to what it is like now, her response was that it is continually a learning process.

She did say that as a beginning teacher a very difficult task for her was classroom management.

She went on to say that forming a structure for a class as a beginning teacher was a difficult task

for her at the beginning but is also something she continues to improve on. I related to her when
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she mentioned that because that is a challenge that I feel I might encounter when becoming a

beginning educator.

As I continue to grow in the area of teaching, I can imagine the difficulty of creating a

classroom management structure that will benefit the entire classroom as well as myself. This is

discussed through the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (2016), which is presented as TPE

2, domain 6. This domain specifically stated that as educators, it is expected to promote

constructive behavior within the classroom as well as maintaining professional student-teacher


In general, I believe that it is essential for all educators to possess a charisma that draws

the students’ attention, and that is something that I look for every time I get the chance to observe.

Making sure that all students are engaged at all times is not a simple task (Slavin and Hopkins,

2012). It is an educator’s goal to ensure that all students are equally involved during the

presentation of new material.

All teachers, whether at a public or private school can impact a child’s life. I believe that

as an educator, it is necessary to strive for all students to succeed. Throughout my observation, it

is clear to say that Ms. Hurshman possesses these qualities as a teacher. I was able to observe her

communicating well with the students, parents, and colleagues. As she mentioned, teaching is a

learning process, so it is not expected for anyone to be perfect. The essential goal of teaching is to

guide and teach students in positive way that will lead them to become successful individuals.

After my first observation at a private school setting, I was able to identify the diverse

aspects between these two different school settings. It was eye-opening, and I feel that I would

enjoy teaching at either site. I have always enjoyed public schools particularly because of the

diversity but being able to observe a setting I hadn’t before was a wonderful experience.
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Commission on Teacher Credentialing. (2016). California Teaching Performance Expectations.

Retrieved from:


Jones, L. (2015). The Power of Teacher Collaboration. Retrieved from:

Slavin, E. R., Hopkins, J. (2015). Educational Psychology: Theory and Practice. 11th Edition.

Springs, J. (2018). American Education. 18th Edition.