Today we were visiting another type of school reform. We went to Lombard and Hopkins to wait for Bus 10. Unfortunately, it decided it wasn’t going to come, so instead of waiting an extra 10 minutes for the next to come, we just hopped onto Bus 35, which took us close enough to the school. The day was extremely windy, which made the walk to the reform school we visited today a very long and cold walk.
Once we got in, we checked in with a pretty intense security system. Then, one of the school’s staff members came to show us around the school. We were given some background information about the history and then we got to tour the campus. The school focuses heavily on college and starts very early in making students aware of their options. Personally, I think the school provides a great environment for the children. However, I do wish there was a better option for the staff who worked there because their days seem extremely tiring and I can’t help but wonder how they are able to run a classroom efficiently when their long days seem to drain them so much. Still, they manage to do it. After the tour, I got to observe the biology classroom, which was awesome! I loved the class size because there were only about 9 students in there. It made it easier for the teachers to provide a lot of attention to each of the students’ needs. All of the students seemed actively engaged with their worksheet. There was one student who had his head down, but I believe he was already finished. We only observed for about 20 minutes and then we got to go and chat with some students over a lunch break. The two students that Liz and I spoke with were really great. They said that although there were things that they had thought annoying in their earlier years, they said how they had grown to understand and appreciate what the school was teaching them. After about 30 minutes, we headed out.
Rex, Liz, and I had to go to Walgreens to pick up our photos and we had thought we were going to be late, but ended up being the first ones there. Our plan for today was to complete the life map. We had started making parts of the life map, but today was when we were going to put it all together. It took almost the entire time. While they were working, we asked if they had any more questions for us and also, what they would want to do when they came to visit in April. The kids finished at different times, so we asked the ones who were finished to present their life maps to us while we waited for everyone else to finish. Every student got the chance to present and then we gave each of them some constructive criticism. It was great because the students began to critique each other, which to me, shows that they were really absorbing what we were telling them. It was a pretty great end to the long week.
As we’re wrapping up the end of this week, I really appreciate how my group kept me from being too high-strung about this week. We all contributed really great ideas and planned out what activities would go on which day, but they didn’t feel the obsession to plan about the exact about of time each activity would take. I feel like this probably saved me a lot of disappointment as I’m sure I would have felt if things did not start and end exactly as planned. I’m really excited to see the kids present their life maps tomorrow! I hope Ivan will be able to present his well even though he missed two days.