Thursday, March 13

Today was our final full day in Baltimore. The first part of our day was spent visiting yet another reform model in the city. Unlike the other schools we visited, this school houses their students during the week and sends them home on the weekend. I was very impressed with the teachers and students we were introduced to. The one student we met was very aware of her situation and how lucky she was to be at the school. I personally do not know if I would be able to attend boarding school at that age. However, one student I spoke to acknowledged that she found this to be beneficial because she would be used to dorm style living and being away from home when she attends college. I respect this reform model because it seem to address the issues present on the first reform model we saw but does not take extreme measures like the reform model we saw yesterday. This school provides a safe environment for their students and allows them the opportunity for success.

Our final day at Midtown Academy was very rewarding. I am pleased by how comfortable the students have become with us and have watched this change occur over the week. Our lesson today focused on interview skills and financial aid. The students all did very well on their interviews and I have complete faith that they will be successful in the future. I am also glad did this exercise because it gave me a clearer image of proper conduct during an interview. Today was a true testament to the saying that you learn best by teaching. The students were also very interested in financial aid and asked very engaging questions. It was great to be able to share my own experiences with them while discussing financial aid and make the lesson more personal. I am excited for tomorrow’s presentation and hope that the guests appreciate the work that went into this week.

Wednesday- Day 3

Today was very enjoyable. We were able to sleep in which I was very pleased about. The first part of we had the pleasure of listening to a guest speaker from a nearby charter school. I was very impressed by all the information she knew and the model of the school. I see the reform model she described as a direct response to the environment we saw during our shadowing experience yesterday. The schools we saw yesterday were lacking in control and structure. In contrast, the reform model our guest described addresses this issue through adherence to strict policy. I respect this structure but also feel that it is slightly militaristic. I agree with what Kirby said today that this model is slightly dehumanizing. The way that the guest spoke about the students made them seem as if they were a product that they were making and selling. I can foresee a lack of individuality resulting from this model. However, I would choose this model of reform over the school we visited yesterday for my children because they would at least be getting a better education and be learning respect and values.

Our third day at Midtown was very eventful. Today we discussed obstacles that our students may face when applying to college. In our first activity we had the students brainstorm obstacles that they currently face and may face. I was very impressed with the various examples there were able to generate and describe. These students are very aware of their environment and I think this will help them later in life. We also held an activities fair for the students in which we described the various clubs and groups that are available at college. The students made this easier for us by asking pertinent questions and showing genuine interest in our involvement in groups at Gettysburg. At the end the students seemed somewhat withdrawn and tired and I attribute this to the MSA testing they had done earlier in the day. I was very happy with how the day went and hope tomorrow is just as enjoyable.

Tuesday, March 12- Day 2

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.

Monday- Day 1

Today was a very eventful day. We arrived in the beautiful city of Baltimore promptly at 11 AM and were on the go the rest of the day. I have never stayed in a hostel before and was pleasantly surprised by the one we are staying in. I have also never stayed in Baltimore for more than a couple hours and hope that staying for the whole week will provide some interesting experiences. Today was our first day visting Midtown Academy and was immediately impressed by the building. The school is located in what was formerly a church near the MICA. I was impressed by the playground outside the school and was immediately reminded of when I was in elementary school. I really enjoyed the tour of the school and felt that it was a great way to get us oriented. I was pleasantly surprised by how polite the students were while we were in the classroom. They were extremely engaged with the teachers and seemed to really enjoy what they were learning.

Our first day of teaching also went extremely well. I was somewhat nervous for two reasons. I had the normal apprehension that comes with new experiences and I was also the facilitator for the day. I wanted to make sure that I set a proper tone for the week and did not let my group down. I am so appreciative of my group and how engaged they were even though I was the facilitator. The other members were right there with me and ready to help whenever I needed it. I was also surprised by how engaged the students were after they had already gone through a complete school day. I was impressed by the insightful questions they asked and was pleased that we were able to answer them. I could tell that the students are dedicated to their future success and want to be prepared as possible for life after secondary school. It was a very rewarding feeling to be able to share my experiences and insights with them and help to give them a clearer image of the future. Further, having to answer their questions helped me to personally think about my future and goals. I am very proud of our work today and hope that every day is just as fulfilling.

-Adam

Baltimore: Here we Come!!

Hi! my name is Adam and I am a senior Health Science major at Gettysburg College. I am originally from Salem, Massachusetts. I have generally taken science oriented classes at college and Urban Education is my first education class. I chose to take this class to expand my horizons and experiences. So farI have found the topics we have discussed to be very engaging and interesting. I am used to having very objective classes oriented around a powerpoint presentation. In contrast, this class is extremely discussion and opinion based and has allowed me the opportunity to express myself in ways I cannot in Health Science courses. I was originally somewhat disappointed to learn that we had to give up our spring break for this class but am trying to stay positive. I have only been to Baltimore for day trips and hope that staying for a whole week will provide enlightening experiences. Further, I am excited to expose myself to cultures and teaching styles I am not familiar with. I am excited to help the students I come in contact with and hope that I will serve as a good role model for them.