Our first day in Baltimore

It’s only been one afternoon and I’m exhausted- but in a good way.  We arrived to Baltimore around 11:30 this morning, checked into our hostel, found lunch, and then walked to Mid-Town Academy for the first time!  We spent our afternoon talking with Ms. Penny (the assistant principle), observing classes, and then running day one of our college and career institute.  Midtown Academy is a k-8 charter school in an old church that has 180 students total.  Given the small school environment, teachers know their students and parents of the students very well.

This was clear when watching the students and teachers interact.  I observed middle school humanities and science classes and then observed kindergarten and first grade classes.  It was quite the juxtaposition, but I loved seeing such a large range of ages in the different classrooms.  I especially liked sitting in on a Humanities class, where the kids were in small-group book-clubs.  The three students that I was sitting with were discussing “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” and having a very thoughtful conversation about the book and quotes they found that they felt related to their lives.  It was so cool to see kids so enthusiastic and engaged about the literature they were reading.

The first day of our college and career institute went very smoothly.  Four of us Urban Ed students were leading a group of six 8th graders from Midtown Academy.  The main point of today was breaking the ice and getting to know the kids in our group!  We played some games, and then talked about what the kids already know about life after highschool and what they want to know.  They asked us some thoughtful questions about life in college, such as what our schedules are like, how much time we spend on homework, etc. We, then made goal collages, where the kids cut pictures out of magazines to represent themselves and what they would like to do in the future.  It was exciting to see the kids so engaged in the curriculum that my group spent so much time planning.  We were also slightly nervous because we found out a few days ago that we have a girl with down’s syndrome in our group and none of us had previous experience working with kids with down’s syndrome before. We were told that she has an aide with her and the kids have been in school with her for a while.   The girl was very animated and clearly excited from the beginning and it was really cool to see other kids collaborating with her and helping her out by finding pictures she might be able to use in her collage.  Overall, it was a great day and I’m looking forward to the rest of the week!

-Liz

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