My First Impressions: The school seemed clean and tidy. The school did not seem very decorated, but it was more decorated than my high school was. The lady at front desk was not the very friendly (we were actually warned by the band teacher that she was not friendly). The teachers we observed (band and choir teacher) were friendly and open with us. With the students, the teachers were respectful to their students. It did not seem as though the choir teacher was comfortable with classroom management yet, but I also knew that she was a first-year teacher. The students seemed friendly and polite but since three other ISU students accompanied me on this experience, these high school students were probably intimidated.
Unexpected Observations: Because of the urban education programs offered through Illinois State University, I had an impression that many teachers of urban education were very dedicated, patient, and passionate about teaching in an urban setting. This experience shattered that impression because when talking to the two teachers during their plan period, neither of them said that they enjoyed working in this urban setting. The choir teacher in particular mentioned that she did not like teaching at this school.
Challenges of Urban Schools: The attitude that these teachers had about their job seemed to reflect some of the challenges that they constantly encounter because of the demographics of the school and the community. The primary challenge for these students is that many of them have difficult and stressful home lives where money is an issue, and these home environments become a distraction for students during the school day. That distraction was likely a part of the reason the students struggled to learn and participate in class. The distraction was the most evident in the choir class, and it seemed particularly overwhelming for the first year teacher.