Benito Juarez Community Academy An Urban Experience Reflexive - Observations

Observations During an Urban Classroom Experience

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What are your first impressions (of the community, the school, the administration, the teachers, the students)? As we traveled closer to Pilsen, the feel and atmosphere screamed vintage Chicago; the neighborhood homes and community buildings were consistent with what I have seen in movies based in Chicago. Arriving onto the campus, the first unique aspect I noticed was the art (graffiti). My initial feeling was worry as I associate graffiti with gang-related activity. As I took a closer look at the art, I realized the graffiti was school-related. Most of the art illustrated school pride. Next, meeting the vice principal was a treat. His professional demeanor and student-first focus resonated well with my ability to assess the school administration. The teachers and students collectively exposed me to a new angle of culture and diversity. The way in which teachers and students communicated was different than what I have been taught at university. Teachers found a balance between treating their students like friends and treating their students with extreme authority. It was truly unique.

A Motivational Sign Posted in a Busy Hallway

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Are there things that you expected to see? Are there some things that you did not expect to see? Having little to no experience with an urban school setting, I did not have any expectations. In contrast, the most obvious difference I experienced was being exposed to a predominantly Hispanic student enrollment. Through the schools I have attended, along with clinical experiences, I have never been exposed to one race being dominant like I experienced at Benito Juarez Community Academy.

A Pie Chart Illustrating Juarez's Student Demographic

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What are some of the assets of an urban school? What challenges do urban schools face? How are those assets or challenges manifest throughout the school day? Benito Juarez was a school with very many assets; their facilities (i.e. gymnasium & weight room, pool, classrooms, cafeteria) were appropriate in providing an effective learning environment. In addition, the number of teachers compared to students seemed appropriate as well. Overall, the school is valuable in its assets. Urban schools can face a host of different issues. Urban schools, relating it specifically to this experience, can face financial limitations and gang-related problems. In Juarez's case, the school seems to have a grip on these issues and does well in providing an adequate educational experience for its students. Unfortunately, my experience did not provide much detail in how the previous challenges are handled throughout the school day other than word-of-mouth from my cooperating teacher.

Juarez's Weight Room - A Place Where Physical Development Occurs
Driver's Education - Signs and Informational Handouts
A Rather Funny Depiction of a Student's Health/Anatomy Work

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