This is a picture of a "Black Jesus" that is hung in the church. Here I want to talk about some of my fears with privilege. I always fear working with those students that have so many struggles because of how privileged I feel in today's society. However, even with the privilege I am still diverse and unique and should not feel guilty because I have what I do have in my life. A majority of my education has been paid for by scholarships or grants. I am lucky to have received such amazing supporters of my education and even feel privileged with those. I feel unprepared to work with students that have dealt with so many different life struggles. I wish I was more prepared from classes but these things are difficult to teach. I also feel as a young white female that it would be difficult to gain respect from students who are so different from me. Not that I see this stopping me from being the best teacher I can be, but it definitely a struggle I could face in the upcoming years. I'm not even sure if I should feel worried about such a thing. Does it even matter? Something I still hope to learn and gain insight on is how students react with me as a teacher. This is something that is next to impossible to teach because it alters from class to class. Hopefully I can gain this confidence in the future.
There was a point on this trip that I was questioning the definition of what it means to be a teacher. I eventually came to the conclusion that a teacher is a role model to students who are going through substantial personal developments and to integrate my content to something that is beneficial to them. It is also providing a service to students and their community so that a student can pursue the future of their choice. I would love to be able to give my students beneficial skills that they can use once they leave my class so that they can pursue whatever opportunities they want. The only problem is I feel like I am not being properly prepared to teach students such tasks. Some additional things I would like to be taught is how to work with special education students and to actually work with them prior to becoming a teacher. Something else is I would like to be taught about mental illnesses, family issues, and violence issues in major cities, just to get an idea of things my students could be going through. I want to be taught the things everyone says, you can't learn until you get there.
This was not the exact sign that was used at the schools but it was something along these lines. I noticed before I saw the sign that there definitely was not a cell phone issue at these schools. This was interesting to me because I can only think about all the safety concerns that pop into my head. I immediately fear that students will not be able to communicate with parents about their arriving to and home from school. Traveling in Chicago seems dangerous enough alone, but without a cell phone even more so. I spoke to someone about this idea and he informed me that the most realistic reason was because it was a huge distraction in the classroom which I would never deny but cell phones are used for other reasons other than social media. As long as I enforce the lack of cellphones in my classroom I do not think I would care if my students had them on campus.
The most important statement that really hit home for me was "COLLEGE IS THE WAY!!!!!". Though I am clearly a supporter of college, hence why I am even working on this project in the first place, I do not think that college is the right place for everyone. I realize Simeon has Career Academy in the title but college is not the only place a person could obtain their future career plans from. It is important to keep options open for students and to allow students to pick the path that works the best for them in the long run.
This flyer describes what I witnessed at Simeon. There were 7 eighth grade students and 3 high school students that performed. Each one of them had me in tears because of how real and how terrifying they were. A majority of the topics they spoke about was about how they felt like they didn't have a voice and thoughts of suicide to escape what was going on in their lives. These are very real thoughts that I am too naive to believe high school students have. It is things like this that prove students need the support system from the school and church environments. Some student really feel like they have no other options and it is wonderful that there are options like Royal and Writers Never DIe for students to express their emotions, feelings, and life in a safe environment. I was forever changed after seeing these speeches.
This is a sculpture outside of the Saint Sabina church. It depicts a girl graduating and a smaller girl looking up to her. I believe it allows students to continue believing in education and what it can do for a person. I also believe it is important that the kids of tomorrow are looking up to the kids of today. It is important for kids to have role models but they can't have role models if those students don't have proper instruction in the classroom. All students give faith to their siblings and other kids of the community.
Overall, I feel like I gained a large amount of insight into urban education after going on these trips. They not only made me feel extremely outside of my comfort zone, but opened my eyes to things that my students could really be dealing with at the age of 15. I feel like I am more open to diversity and differences that my students may have to myself. I hope to be a resource for my students in the future and that would be really difficult if I was so closed minded and naive to issues that people deal with. Looking forward, I am extremely excited to gain even more experience this upcoming summer by participating in STEP-UP through the Chicago- ISU Teacher Pipeline. I hope that these experiences make me even more prepared.