The Alliance School (November 2014): To partially fulfill my clinical hours for TCH 212, I participated in a bus trip from ISU to Milwaukee to observe at the Alliance School. The Alliance School is a public charter school (part of Milwaukee Public Schools) and what makes the school particularly unique is its sharp focus on being a safe space for all students to learn. During the school day, I observed a few classes including art, poetry, and English. Some things that stood out to me during the school day were the student and teacher openness to discuss topics such as personal feelings, personal situations, and bullying, the lack of persistence teachers had on students who were not focused on their work, the gender-neutral restroom (and lack of a men's and women's restroom), the obviously positive attitude about LGBT people within the school, and the unusually sincere friendliness of everybody at the school.
Kelly High School (January 2016): To partially fulfill my clinical hours for MUS 217, I participated in a bus trip from ISU to Chicago to work with band students and observe band rehearsals at Kelly High School. Kelly High School is a public school and is a part of Chicago Public Schools. Throughout the day, I worked with beginning band students and more advanced students. I also gave a private lesson to one saxophone player who was planning to audition for colleges. In Chicago Public Schools, students do not start in band until they are in high school. Through observing and teaching, I was very impressed by the band program.
Overall Perception of Urban Schools: My perception of urban schools before my urban classroom experience for TCH 219 was quite good. I recognized that the students of both of these schools did not have the financial resources that some suburban schools have, but it was clear that it generally did not stop the students from learning. The culture at both of the urban schools I visited was very friendly and loose. The loose environment, particularly at the Alliance School had made me reflect on if it was necessary to have such a loose environment to help students be intrinsically motivated to succeed and participate. I also really liked that both schools and communities seemed to particularly embrace art.
Overall Perception of Urban Communities: Going into my urban experience in Peoria, my perception of urban communities was also quite good. Though in my previous trips to Milwaukee and Chicago were spent almost entirely in the school, both cities seemed to celebrate many different cultures and the diversity seemed to make the community stronger. Though being in a "concrete jungle" is not something I find very comfortable, there seemed to be at least some green space in both Milwaukee and Chicago to break up the "concrete jungle". I also liked the high density of small businesses in these communities, which is likely directly related to the high population density of people.
Perceptions Before Urban Experience: Before my Urban Experience at Manual High School in Peoria, Illinois, I expected it to be at least a little different than the experiences I had in Chicago and Milwaukee because I knew that the city of Peoria was very different and significantly smaller. I was curious to see if the atmosphere of the school would be friendly and loose like it was during my previous urban classroom experiences.