Urban Education

Prior Experience: Throughout my academic journey here at Illinois State I have been fortunate enough to have been enrolled in Urban-tagged courses, which required Chicago observational bus trips. I absolutely loved participating on these trips because they really opened the door to urban education for me. I have observed many mathematics classrooms in Chicago Public Schools but the experience that had the most impact on me would be STEP-UP.

For a month, Monday-Thursday I would teach in a summer school/camp in the morning, work at the St. Sabina Employment Resource Center in the afternoon, and then took group seminars in the evening. Friday-Sundays were service-learning days as well as seminars. This was my life for a month all while living with a host family in the community of my neighborhood school. The main take-away from this experience would be that community has such a strong impact on the school as well as the students lives. The community provides so many resources to families, no one is left unsupported. Going into Benito Juarez, I expect to feel the same kind of supportive atmosphere from the community.

"Our Vision" at Chicago Public Schools Headquarters

Going into Benito Juarez, I expected to feel the same strong sense of community and support from the faculty and staff as I have seen and felt in Chicago Public Schools before.

I loved seeing all the artwork displayed around the school because art is one of those classes that is fighting to stay apart of curriculum, and to see it very heavily supported was awesome.

In Chicago, the neighborhoods tend to be segregated, not on purpose but just by chance. So the neighborhood schools have a majority of one leading race/ethnicity and the schools always teach their students to embrace their heritage by including aspects of culture into the classroom curriculum as well as displaying artwork from their heritage. This is very important because it allows the students to love themselves, appreciate their roots, and form their own identity.

A trend that I have noticed in Chicago Public School is the hallways being painted with school mottos, inspirational quotes, and encouragement phrases all over the building and I think that's awesome. It really brings the school environment to life and makes you happy to be there.

In my past Chicago bus trips I was always in Little Village so I was extra excited when I heard we were going into Pilsen for this experience. I gained a lot more knowledge about the neighborhood such as school, housing assistance, and local businesses. In order to engage students in your curriculum, you have to keep an open mind and want to embrace their culture and continue to educate yourself on that culture and your students as people. Knowing where they are coming from, what they can bring to the table, and just simply conversing with them through literacy will be the trifecta for success in the urban classroom.

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