Zachary Bleisch ’18 — We have been in Chicago now for three days, and have spent two days teaching in the classroom. I am teaching 5th-8th grade algebra at Walsh Elementary. It’s located in a predominantly Mexican community and this is apparent in the school. My first impression of my school was fantastic! All of the staff was overly excited a welcoming to not me, but also the students when I first walked in the building, and it has continued throughout my time in the classroom.
In addition to my warm welcome, my host teacher is a phenomenal example of what an educator should be. She has the students’ trust and has built friendships, but she also is able to manage the classroom and create clear boundaries. It has been amazing to be able to see her interact in front of the classroom and learn from her.
While Walsh has been a great school, they have faced some of the stereotypical struggles of Urban schools. Over the past couple weeks, there have been a series of gang related shootings in the neighborhood, one of which happened on the street of the school, in front of the eight grade class. I wouldn’t have been able to tell by the student’s actions if I hadn’t been told. It is nice that the students are able to look past and continue on with their lives, but also being that close to a school shooting did not have a visible impact on many students. This is a pretty extreme instance, and my experience at Walsh has been amazing!
Tuesday was teacher appreciation day, and the family of the students brought in lunch for the teachers. As I mentioned earlier, the school is predominantly Mexican, and they brought in some traditional Mexican food. I am a huge Mexican food fan, so this was a great experience.
So far we haven’t had a large amount of time to wonder around Chicago, but we have been able to go to Chinatown and walk around the city for a little on Monday. We walked to the lake front on Monday, but unfortunately Navy Pier was closed by 9.
Tuesday night we went to an Ethiopian restaurant. This was the first time I had this type of food. The food was great and much different than anything I have had before. After dinner we went to Wrigley as a group and walked around the area and stores. I had never been to Wrigley before, and it was an amazing place, and I am glad I was able to see the historic park.
Overall, the week has been fantastic, I have had many new experiences and I am looking forward to being able to get more involved in the classroom and exploring more of Chicago.