Schools in American Cities
As someone who both has experienced city schooling in my own schooling career and who hopes to become a city school teacher themselves, this class has been very important to my orientation as a potential future educator.
One of my favorite things about this class was my placement school. It was so exciting to be in a place that openly admitted it was still a work in progress, and it was also exciting to see all the people involved in making that progress. Although I found myself having many ambivalent feelings about the way classrooms were run, or how much I thought students were getting out of them, I still think that the original pedagogical framework the school was built around is a vision worth pursuing. These conflicting feelings sometimes made it hard to talk about my placement in class; even as I heard others describe classrooms where students weren’t as engaged as they could’ve or should’ve been, or talk about the way teachers are not being appreciated enough and are being overworked, I found myself wanting to defend the school regardless because I want so much to believe in the possibility of a place like that existing. I also feel as though everyone who was involved in its making was so invested and put so much of themselves into the process - principal, teachers, students, administrators - that it will continue to grow and move past the challenges that arise. I also would love to see what happens after the new cohort of students comes in, and especially whether the current students decide to come back. I wonder how the current culture will hold up (will it be stronger?) and whether the new cohort will have an easier time adapting to it because the framework will already be there - or will the framework also have changed? Maybe the school will undergo even more restructuring in the summer now that everyone has a year of experiences to inform their decision-making process. I genuinely hope for a good outcome, and I also feel really grateful to have been able to experience the environment there. Despite all its challenges, my placement school taught me a lot of things that I hope to put to use in the future.
Another thing I really appreciated about this class is how strong and opinionated the voices of my peers were, and how there was a lot of pushing back on concepts that allowed me to re-examine previously held beliefs. The barometer activity we used to discuss Teach for America stands out to me particularly (probably also because of personal investment in the topic); there was a continual back-and-forth that allowed me to dig deeper into a topic I thought I had already fully confronted, and allowed me to discover a new way of thinking about it. Although it takes me a while to process things, which sometimes makes it hard to participate in heated classroom discussions, I remember feeling very engaged and energetic in that discussion, and I think I learned a lot from listening to others’ comments in class this semester.
Finally, I am grateful to feel as though I’m coming away with a really holistic, comprehensive, and well-rounded view of urban education/education reform that I can use to inform my own actions and practices. It’s always so important to realize that the educational system is comprised of a host of different variables, and especially important to try to know and understand one’s own place amongst them.