Ian Leonard ’13 – After spending six days in Chicago, it’s safe to say that there are a number of things I’ve learned that I can take home from the experience. Having spent the majority of my life in environments quite different from what Chicago has to offer — small, quiet cities and towns — there were certainly plenty of questions I set out to investigate. While the urban setting is quite unlike towns like Crawfordsville, I wanted to gain a better understanding of the culture, both in and out of the classroom. The majority of my time during the urban experience was spent at Prosser Career Academy, located roughly seventy minutes north (by train and bus) from our hostel where we resided.
he experience was very beneficial — particularly from an academic perspective — because my host teacher, Mrs. Nobleza, exposed me to the culture of the school. First and foremost, I was given the opportunity to lead a class by teaching Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet for her Freshman AP class. It was really enlightening because I gained valuable experience working with individual groups of students and in addressing the class as a whole. One of the primary questions I planned to investigate during our stay in Chicago was how English classes are structured regarding grammar at Prosser. In working with Mrs. Nobleza, I came to understand that she encourages students to write as much as possible and uses common student mistakes to shape her grammar lessons. She also showed me the value of using technology in the classroom, guiding students through in-class grammar lessons via computer and assigning homework online as well.
I think I also underestimated the importance of public transit in Chicago. The Prosser group, composed of myself and three others, awoke each morning and took both bus and train to arrive at the school. It was an interesting experience to take the same sources of transportation to school as the students. It really opened my eyes to the integral role public transportation played in the education system of Chicago and the workings of the city at large. Even though I’ll be student teaching in Crawfordsville during the fall, this urban experience taught me the importance of adapting to different academic environments, and I’ve come to appreciate what a school like Prosser has to offer as a result. Ultimately, I’ve gained a much better grasp of many aspects of urban education and am encouraged to use what I’ve learned in the educational setting down the road.
Jimmy Kallas ’14 – Today was another great day for me taking part in the Chicago Urban Experience program. At Benito Juarez Community Academy today was a half day for the students, this meant that class periods were only 23 minutes long. Because of this my host teacher Mr. Mich spent most of the class periods for housekeeping purposes, but also allowed for me to introduce myself to the students and answer any questions they had for me. This was a fun part of the day especially when I filled the students in on the fact that I go to one of only three all-male institutions in the United States.
After the half day in school myself and the other Wabash students spent the other half of the day at a teacher workshop at the Field Museum. This was another awesome experience as we learned how to apply object based learning in the classroom. We also explored the task of planning an educational field trip, where the main takeaway was that to have a successful field trip it is more than just showing up and having a day off. To plan a good educational field trip takes a lot of work and prior planning including cross-curriculum activities. My favorite part of the day after we finished the workshop was that we got to explore the museum on our own. One of my favorite exhibits was Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex, which is the largest and best preserved T-Rex specimen ever found.
Today was another wonderful day that I was able to experience because of the Wabash Teacher Education program, not only have I learned endless teaching strategies but I have been able to experience multiple cultures that are rarely seen in Crawfordsville. This has been a great experience and I am upset that it will be ending in two short days.
Mitch Overly ’16 – Once again I was enthralled and amazed by Rauner. Today was my second day at Rauner and I’m constantly surprised by the quality of teaching that takes place here. They truly do care for the students and under the tight spaces and limited resources the faculty has to work with, they certainly do an exceptional job.
Today I observed and interacted with my co-teacher, Mrs. Yohpe, who is a wonderful teacher. There were three quality aspects of teaching that specifically caught my eye today at Rauner. The first quality that I observed from Mrs. Yohpe as well as from another English teacher was the use of student’s own work as examples. I find this to be an extremely useful tool for teachers to use because it’s extremely relevant to the students. The students will immediately be more interested in the examples because it’s their own work being discussed. It’s extremely applicable because they can immediately take the criticism and feedback from the teacher and students and use it to correct their work.
The second aspect of teaching that I observed at Rauner today was the use of schedule. Here at Rauner they run on a block schedule and the two English classes I am co-teaching run 90 minutes long. 90 minutes can be exceptionally long for anyone let alone a bunch of rowdy high schoolers. The technique that Mrs. Yohpe and I discussed prior to class and which I have seen the last two days is to make activities that last between 15 and 20 minutes. You don’t necessarily have to change subject content but Mrs. Yohpe and I discussed the advantages of changing activities because the kids won’t become complacent and the transition periods remove any complacency that may take place in the students.
The last aspect of teaching that I really liked about Mrs. Yohpe’s class schedule was the emphasis on time for students to do their work in class. Often times, teachers can assign mountains of work to strictly do at home. However, the problems arise when the students don’t understand the material they are working on and then they are stuck at home with no resources to aid them. However, if you structure time to at least start assignments in class the students can raise questions while the teacher is right there in the room with them. Questions can be answered and ambiguity can be defined.