Urban Reflexive Evan Soto

Prior Experience

I went to Plainfield South High School which would definitely not be considered an Urban Setting. Growing up, my dads first job as an assistant principal was at South Shore Prep. I remember during the summer he would bring me to his work occasionally to build computer labs, and the school to me seemed ancient. The classrooms had very little in them, the building was old and felt like it was falling a part, and the students that were in the building were constantly being redirected for doing things they were not supposed to be doing. Also, something that I remember being shocking was that the school served breakfast in the library every day. At my school, we never had this. My dad explained to me that a lot of the students who attended South Shore Prep did not have the chance to eat breakfast before school and this helped those students in need.The perception of urban schools isn't great. Often times they are assumed to be under funded, less advanced with technology, and that they don't have the same opportunities as other schools. I assume differently. Before going to Juarez, I didn't assume it would have the same stereotypical attributes as other urban schools. Stereotypes are not based on reality, therefore I did not assume that they would apply to Juarez. I was looking forward to this experience and excited for the opportunity to observe an Urban classroom setting.


The first thing I noticed when I walked in to Juarez was how nice the outside of the school was. There was a huge soccer field right in the front of the school which I thought was awesome. Once we were assigned to our classrooms, Eric and I were off to check out the technology education room. The class that we were observing was called Gaming Design which had me very curious on what that entailed. Once we walked into the classroom, I was pleasantly impressed by the facility. There was a computer lab with around 25 computers, three 3D printers, and even a laser engraver! Eric and I wanted to get a quick idea on what the lesson was today, and to my luck it was on Photoshop. In technology and engineering education, that are a variety of different subjects you can teach. There is engineering design, manufacturing, robotics, autos, architecture, and graphic communications. Graph Comm is something I am very interested in teaching once I graduate. The teacher told us that we were allowed to help in anyway, and if the students needed direction we were free to help them. This was a great opportunity for Eric and I to get some hands on experience with real students. We helped with some simple procedures like the magic wand tool, I helped blend in a face that they cut into a photo, and taught a student how to clear up blemishes. A challenge that I saw with the class was their ability to stay on task. The teacher had to redirect students and make sure they were still working on what they needed to be. She had a system where should had a screen up on the board, and when a student was working, they would gain participation points. If they were off task they were docked points. This did a good job of keeping students on task for the rest of the period. Once we finished with the period, it was time for us to check out the Design Tec House. Juarez held an assembly for students in the Design Tec house and had a display of different careers and things to do with technology. As a future Technology Education teacher, this was the highlight of the day. I was impressed at how much technology Juarez was able to get inside the building. They had a DJ booth (by far most popular attraction), a robotics booth, shirt printing, 3D printing, and even a 3D animation booth. You can tell that the community is invested in Juarez and wants the best for these students. Urban schools face challenges everyday, but Juarez did not make that an excuse for students not to succeed. Juarez does an amazing job at providing students with an opportunity to learn, and for the future. Overall I was very impressed with Juarez and it has me considering working at a school that would be considered Urban.


My Uncle works at Juarez High School as the boy's and girl's volleyball coach so I had a word with him after my experience. He was telling me how every student has the ability to do anything they set their mind to, but sometimes the need a push in the right direction. A lot of the times, the students don't believe in there ability. We as teachers need to be an example and also be able to push them to their potential so that they may reach it. My time at Juarez High School taught me that while having the right equipment, and resources for the students is a great tool: at the end of the day, it's up to teachers to implement them for the better of the student. As teachers it is easy to take the easy route. We could just clock in and clock out. The students who fall behind are now the responsibility of the next teacher. But I know that the vast majority of teachers do not agree with that process. We need to be the light at the end of the tunnel. The coach who makes an athlete run that extra distance. I would be lying if I said I wanted to work at an Urban school before this experience. That was never in my plan. I always figured that "these schools are underfunded" or "the students do not care about school" but that is flat out wrong. If anything, an Urban school such as Juarez is someplace I could make the biggest impact. I can help a student reach a goal that maybe she or he didn't think they could achieve. But this takes perseverance and a passion to teach. Students may not get it the first time, the second time or may need an alternative method of instruction so that they can meet the objectives: but it is up to us to create a lesson plan that meets all levels of literacy. Juarez taught me that it's easy to go to the school that has the best facilities, the brightest students, or even has a higher pay. But making an impact on a student's life that they may not have happened if it weren't for you is priceless. After this Urban experience, I know now that I will apply to schools in urban settings. I want an opportunity to make an impact. I have a passion to teach, and I want to utilize that passion where it counts the most.

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