My experience with urban education was slim to non-existent before I came to college. Upon attending ISU, I realized that my school district (D211) was more affluent than I originally thought it was. Besides attending Hoffman Estates High School, I had never interacted with schools that were outside of the suburban areas or considered "large metropolitan urban" environments. My observations were completed in Hoffman Estates, or in the Normal Community where much of the same qualities were set in place throughout the atmosphere.
Walking into the Benito Juarez Community Academy was enticing, and nothing I had ever seen before. Going through a security line, scanner, and officer was something I had only ever experienced in airports, and that was a privilege that I was never faced to deal with. The stipulations associated with this process often ignore safety and turn towards stereotyping the people within the building. I made a conscious effort to not let my privilege or positionality impact the way I went about my day. My brain opened itself up to the new-ness of the day, and I was ready to listen, learn, and live as if I were a CPS teacher in this community.
Reflection and Extension
This experience has given me wings, literally, to take me outside of my comfort zone and seek something more than the norm.
It has given me the courage to stand up for what I believe pedagogy, learning, education, and justice should be.
And it has also given me pineapple pie, which you cannot deny is just flat out amazing.
The most important thing that I have gained, however, is a new perspective on what it means to be a teacher that serves student needs, as opposed to being a teacher that gets destroyed by the system.
In my own philosophy of teaching I see myself taking the beauty that I witnessed in Pilsen into my passion for building relationships, thinking thoughtfully, and shaping the world with creativity instead of simply "teaching." Teaching is not reduced to being a degree. Pilsen showed me that teaching is beauty, art, and personality mashed together chaotically.