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Chicago Education: Dalton Miller ’17

Dalton Miller ’17 — On the way to De La Salle high school Sunday afternoon, I tried to observe the areas we travelled through to gain an idea of what student life may be like, and I came face to face with a three story moose blowing a bubble that made me realize a stark truth about Chicago: don’t expect things to be what I consider “normal” in rural Indiana. As I prepared to enter the Catholic, De Lasallian high school on South Side Chicago that I’d be in all this week, I honestly had no idea as to what I should expect as I stepped through the main doors on Monday morning. Once my mentor teacher arrived and took me to his classroom on the third floor, I was still rather anxious as to what I would experience in the classroom during my week stay in Chicago. That anxiety quickly retreated and was replaced with excitement as students began to file in and prepare for the day’s class. Before even stepping foot into De La Salle to meet the students and faculty at the school, I had prepared myself for an experience entirely different when in reality it’s not too far from the classroom settings I’ve seen in the past, specifically Wabash. Since I am placed at the De La Salle all-male campus I see a lot of similarities in how the classroom is ran by my mentor teacher, but it’s slightly odd because it is an all-male atmosphere at the high school level instead of the collegiate level.

Since it is an all-male school the discussions and lessons have resembled those I have experienced at Wabash, but the content and approach to each topic is slightly shifted as the students are only sophomores in high school. Although this makes the classrooms louder and harder to gain or maintain control over, I can’t help but think if I would be able to take that kind of commanding control when it comes to me teaching urban students. At Wabash we have a healthy variety of rural and urban students–whether it be large or small cities and towns–that adds to the diverse nature that Wabash prides itself on. This is not at all true in Chicago. Kids do come from all over the city, but nothing in Chicago comes close to the town of Crawfordsville that I’ve lived in my entire life. Of course travelling and living in Chicago has been an eye-opening and sometimes drastic change from what I’m used to  in Indiana, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the few days I’ve been here this week. Without travelling on public transportation, walking upwards of 5 miles a day, and observing a Catholic De Lasallian classroom all day I can’t say I truly experienced Chicago in my week here.

I have experienced a variety of what Chicago has to offer, but without living, travelling, and observing the many areas of Chicago that this week has given me the opportunity to do I could never say I actually experienced urban education. It may only be Tuesday, but my time in Chicago has already opened my eyes to thousands of new sights and events that occur on a daily basis in an urban setting. I only hope that my remaining days here will provide me with opportunities to experience Chicago in as many ways as possible that help me better understand the basics of urban education. Our immersion trip has already been amazing and I know the rest of this week will provide me with a personal understanding of the fundamental principles needed to be an effective urban educator, wherever I may be in the near and distant future.