Today was a great experience. It was pouring rain when we woke up today at 6:45 and I was hesitant to travel across the city. We all met up in the common room of the hostel with the intention of searching for a place to get coffee. We were able to find a Dunkin Donuts on our map and were sorely surprised to find that it was nothing more than a vacant lot. Luckily, this vacant lot was not metaphorical of the rest of the day. After unsuccessfully finding coffee we board the city bus and began our trip to the High School. Going to this school was a complete culture shock for me. I was simultaneously impressed and discouraged by what I saw during my visit. The student I was shadowing was a very sweet and intelligent girl that was extremely candid in all her answers and explanations. I was very appreciative of this as I am aware she could have been closed off and reserved. Through our conversations I learned that she was ranked number one in her class. She explained to me that what kept her coming to school every day was her desire to go to college and be successful. Unfortunately this was not the case with many of the other students I came in contact with. Several of the classes I attended were fairly boisterous and rowdy. The teachers often seemed to be blunted to this rowdiness and did very little to address it. To me this was discouraging because it is contrary what I experienced in my own high school. At the school, students were talking out of turn and using fowl language without any repercussions. I was also extremely surprised when students would show up an hour late to school and the teacher would say nothing except good morning. The student I was following explained to me that this is due to the public transportation being late and because many students do not come to class when it rains. Given the disparity between the student I was shadowing and the other students I saw I question whether or not the administration chose only their best students for shadowing to give off a better image. I can see the logic in this but also realize that I visited the school and am attending this trip do get a genuine picture of what urban education is like. In total, I am very glad I visited the school even if it was not a completely positive experience. I was able to see and experience first hand many of the topics and circumstances we have discussed in class and now have a broader, more eclectic perspective on education.
Today’s experience at Midtown academy was very rewarding. By the time we arrived there it had stopped raining and everyone’s spirits had lifted. Immediately when I walked in one of our students happily greeted me and I was pleased to see that he remembered my name. Overall, the curriculum went much smoother than yesterday and I could sense that the kids were more comfortable around us. I am still impressed by their ability to pay attention and remain on task after a long day at school. Today, our main focus was to present and explain the options that are available to students after high school. I was very pleased by how engaged the students were in this discussion and the questions they were able to generate. I could really tell that they cared about what we were telling them and viewed it as important and beneficial. It was particularly rewarding to have one of the students’ mothers approach me after the class and tell me that her son was talking about the program and about us individually. I am excited for the rest of our week and hope that every day goes as well as today.