The Final Reflection

Waldorf College seeks to be an engaging community of learning and faith where relationships are formed and opportunities for learning and service abound. Our mission is to educate the whole person emphasizing integrity and equipping students to succeed and to serve the communities where they live and work.

That is the Waldorf College mission statement, something that I have both carried with me and embodied throughout my four years here. When I first drove the six and a half hours to Forest City, Iowa, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The town was quiet, quaint, and nothing like my fast-paced suburban life. I knew it was going to be different, but I was ready for a change.




I came into Waldorf with hopes of becoming independent, taking advantage of opportunities, and becoming more of myself. I came in as a young girl and now I’m leaving as a self-assured, confident, teacher and writer. 



Throughout my years at Waldorf, I have been challenged my professors and peers to be the best Marisa possible. From traveling to Myrtle Beach and completing clinical hours during my spring break softball trip to sitting next to a Somalian student in Minneapolis and talking about culture, I have learned how to interact and form relationships with many people. I have learned technology and how to use the internet as a resource for beyond-the-classroom learning. I have learned to use my passion for writing to engage and motivate learners of all ages. I have learned how to be both a teacher and a friend.

Through community service as a reading tutor and in the Forest City community, I have learned the value of relationships and getting to know the people around me. I have formed connections with people my age, much younger, and much older, and these connections have made me a more well-rounded and positive person.

Through student teaching, I have learned to meet students where they are, to be flexible, to think on the fly, to adapt, and to love what I do. I have created assessments, assignments, projects, rubrics, and lesson plans that have stretched my thinking. I have learned ways to reach students at their individual learning level. I have learned to accommodate.  I have learned that students come to the classroom with difficult lives. I have hugged students who have lost their mothers to drugs. I have consoled students who have been broken down by bulling. I have been a consistent and positive adult in their lives.

As I finish my student teaching and prepare for a life and career outside of school, I feel ready. Waldorf College has prepared me to walk into the ‘real world’ through experiences and opportunities. Over the past four years I have grown into someone who values young minds, who understands her role as an educator and mentor, and who cares, deeply about the impact she has on the world. I have not only become the true definition of a teacher, but I have become Marisa. A person who is open-minded, complex, loving, and positive. And I am proud to be her. 

Philosophy of Education

I am a teacher who believes the most important aspects of a student’s education are relationships, creative thinking, and engaged, cooperative learning.

As an English/Language Arts teacher, my focus is to build a curriculum that develops and strengthens students’ reading and writing skills, their connections and communication with one another, and their links to the world beyond the classroom. My education philosophy centers on positive learning environments. I believe that a classroom focused on cooperative, positive learning gives students the opportunity to interact with both their peers and teacher, challenges students to think both critically and creatively, and allows for growth both in and out of the classroom.


Marisa Donnelly-small (1)My name is Marisa Donnelly, born and raised in suburban Chicago and currently living in Northern Iowa. I have always been passionate about writing and reading. I wrote my first short-story at age eight featuring me and my pet guinea pig, Peanut, as the main characters stranded on a desert island. As an eight-year-old, I was driven to write by a teacher who bought every student a notebook and said, simply, ‘Write’. That was my first inspiration and what really made me want to be both a writer, and especially, a teacher.

Since that class, I’ve filled twenty-three different composition notebooks, own and post on five blogs, and currently carry at least three journals/diaries with me at all times. I’ve been published in several literary magazines: Crusader of Waldorf College, Catfish Creek of Loras College, The Tenth Muse of Clarke University, and one that is nationally-recognized, The Briar Cliff Review of Briar Cliff UniversityI also have blog posts published on Thought Catalog, PuckerMob, and Lies About Parenting.

In 2014, I was granted the Alpha Chi National Honors Society Research Grant to attend writing workshops at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival of the University of Iowa. I attended two workshops, one in poetry and one in short-story writing in the summer of 2014. Currently I am free-lance writing and student teaching.

Writing is my passion, and I hope to inspire my students to write. In the Spring of 2014, I worked with middle school students in both writing and reading with the hope that I could influence them to think positively about English. For the past five years I have also worked as a writing tutor in Waldorf College’s Writing Center.

Not only am I passionate about writing, but I also play college softball. This past May marked my ninth and final year of playing, but I hope that I can pursue the sport through being a coach—thus the reason for my coaching endorsement.

My plans now that I have graduated are to finish student teaching and pursue a full-time teaching career as well as obtain my MFA in Creative Writing.

I am excited to continue my future in the education field and plan to be a successful teacher for any grade level or classroom in which I am placed.

Philosophy of Behavior Management

I believe that through creating a curriculum that is driven, focused, and engaging, I will foster inherent behavior management in my classroom that will not only motivate my students to be self-directed learners, but also ensures that together we are accountable for their learning.

I believe that students learn best in environments where they feel safe, yet are pushed outside of their comfort zones. My goal, as a teacher, is to create lessons and units that are both challenging and interesting, capturing student attention and therefore eliminating distractions and misbehavior. Through a curriculum that is both rigorous and fun, students will learn to be self-directed and responsible. They will grow both academically and as individuals, discovering their role in their learning and their role beyond the classroom.

My Personal Credo

Foundation for the Future

 Education gives one a foundation for future success—whether that is providing a general knowledge base, resources for problem-solving and completing tasks, skills to communicate effectively with others, or an understanding of the world—education is what one can build off of and grow on. It paves the way for a career or life-path and is not only about academics, but about developing the student as well-rounded. My home has valued faith and family; I believe that a teacher should function in loco parentis, taking on the role of not only an instructor, but also a model and support system.

The Role of Assessment in Teaching and Learning

I believe that formative assessments are an essential tool to actively monitor student progress and understanding. Formative assessments allow for me to continually adapt my curriculum based on student learning. Summative assessments are also necessary, as they are my means of measuring and verifying student growth and learning.

In my experience, formative and summative assessments allow for me to play a more informed and effective role before, during, and after instruction. When I can actively assess my students’ learning during instruction, using a formative assessment, I can see their progress and areas of strength or weakness. I can then use this information to modify my teaching.

Summative assessments are what I can use to measure what my students have learned or ways they have improved after a given lesson or instruction. Summative assessments are opportunities for reflection, both personal, in ways I can improve my teaching, and student-related, as I can see areas where my students may still need more instruction.

Leadership Style

I believe that the most effective leadership style is one that models an authoritative parenting style; because of this, my leadership in the classroom will be both strict and understanding. As a teacher, I will listen to my students and allow them to discuss, in a mature way, the consequences of their actions. I will be open to student input and ideas.  I think that an authoritative teaching style will be the most effective in my classroom because it will allow me to have authority and set rules, but my students will be more willing to respect me and listen to me because I acknowledge their ideas and consider their input. I know that the most effective form of leadership considers each individual student and how he or she learns. My goal is to engage every student and I will do this through an authoritative leadership style.

I will be a leader both in and out of the classroom. Outside of the classroom, I will be a leader in the school. I will be involved in school activities and extracurricular events. I know that being involved will not only benefit me but my students as well.

Effective Teacher Characteristics I Possess

I know that I am capable of being an effective teacher because I will act as a role model to my students. I am a very responsible person and I can time-manage very well. My ability to complete tasks on time will encourage my students to do the same. In addition to responsibility, I also display high levels of professionalism. I act appropriately and I demonstrate good common sense. In this way, I am an appropriate role model for my students, both academically and socially.

I am also very good at communicating. I will communicate effectively with my students, their parents, my colleagues, and administrators. I have a strong ability to understand, emphasize with, and work alongside others. I also possess a strong sense of perseverance. I do not give up on tasks, no matter the difficulty. In addition, I have a very positive attitude which will allow me to help my students get excited about learning.

My responsibility, professionalism, ability to communicate, and perseverance are all qualities that I pride myself on and will allow me to be a successful teacher.