Today felt like walking down memory lane. The Urban Education students had to decide whether they were interested in going to a public elementary school or a city-wide vocational-technical high school. Two completely different options, it was an easy decision for me — the vocational-technical high school. I graduated from a vocational-technical high school and was really familiar with the curriculum and the numerous trades that students were allowed to pick. In addition, I had a closer connection because both the schools were in urban areas.
When I entered the high school, I immediately saw how nice the interior was. The lockers, the flooring, the decorations, the classrooms, everything that you saw pertaining to the school was high-quality. There was, however, a contrast between the interior and decorations of the building to the high school student body. I was assigned a student tour-guide and basically followed her to her classes. I had great discussions with the students about an array of topics — how would they describe the environment of the high school and the study body, the difference between a good and bad teacher, future goals, and much more. In the classrooms, the students were very loud, and during my first period class, there were students coming in late sporadically. Also, compared to Midtown Academy, the high school students did not work quietly and independently on their classwork, and frequently did not follow the teachers’ directions. I told the teacher that I will be going to lunch with my student, and they told me that I should be prepared because I will be entering the “jungle.” A lot of the students appeared that they had goals to go to college and to be successful. Several of the students discussed how their school was pushing them to go to college but it “just wasn’t working” because many of the students weren’t driven. But it was difficult to see how their high school was preparing them for their higher-level education. Unfortunately, this high school reminded me of my high school experience. Loud classmates, frustrated teachers, rowdy students in the cafeteria, my trade class was the highlight of my day, college was barely promoted, and more. Despite my negative experiences and awareness that urban teaching is rigorous, I continue to strive to be an urban educator.
Then we had our second day of our College and Career Institute and it was my turn to lead. Our theme for today was “Options after High School” and I discussed about the various options — college & university, vocational-technical & career college, and the military. I tried my best to give most of the leadership to the students and have them take the lead. Initially, a few of the activities would of been led by me, but after receiving some advice from Professor Rinke, I decided that the students should do the work themselves. The students were split into groups of two and then assigned an option. They were to find five facts about their opportunity then alter two of the facts to make false statements. When the facts were gather, we played the Four Corners — Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree. It was great seeing what the students knew and didn’t know. After the Four Corners activity, I provided additional information about the options and answered any questions. In addition, we had the students take a personality test and they really enjoyed learning more about themselves. To end the day off, I answered the questions that students wrote in their journals the previous day, and we had some great discussion. I absolutely love the students I am working with and couldn’t ask for a better group. But as I ponder about my great experience at Midtown Academy, I wonder how the program would of look if this was implemented at the high school. Would my group members and I be effective and efficient teachers with the students, or would we be burnt out from trying to maintain the students?
Earlier in the semester, we watched a few films of urban education, and my classmates and I who visited the high school felt like it reflected the stereotypical urban school. But Midtown Academy reflects what an ideal urban school should look like. I am still challenging myself on how could I possibly make a public school classmate resemble a charter school classroom.
What to expect tomorrow: We are meeting with the Recruitment Director of KIPP School and will be learning about their educational model. In addition, it’ll be around third day of the College and Career Institute.