Education in the Inner City has been quite an eye opening experience for me. I came into this class eager to learn about the inner city as I am a Prudential Scholar and I will be teaching in Newark starting in the fall. I have never spent any time in Newark prior to this class and was very unsure of what to expect. I have gained a lot of knowledge of the inner city, particularly Newark, through the readings and my visits for the community inquiry project. Overall, I have learned a lot about myself, public education in the inner city, and teaching in the inner city.
The culture project showed me just how different everybody in our class really was. It made me think about when I have classrooms full of students. There will be a culture collage behind each and every student. It will be my job to understand all of them and teach my lessons based on this. It showed me just how aware I need to be about every student. When meeting with parents I will need to understand the culture they come from. It is quite possible that I could do something that they consider disrespectful without being knowledgeable of their culture.
I have also learned about the problems that students face in the inner city. Most of these problems get in the way of the student obtaining a quality education. Students may not be getting the proper amount of sleep each night. They may not be staying warm in the winter. They may not be eating enough or if they are it may not be the healthiest of choices. These issues and many others hinder their ability to pay attention in school. Some students may not have time for homework as they could be working everyday after school to help put food on the table for their family. It will be a struggle to help the students overcome these obstacles and at the same time have a fair and democratic classroom. I have also learned that although it will be hard it definitely can be done.
Another very important thing that I learned is that many good things happen in the inner city. Although the media decides that only bad news ends up on the front page, there are many good stories that go unnoticed. There are many students who want a good education. A lot of them will respond in a positive way when challenged if they see the material as being relevant to their lives. There are a lot of parents who are dedicated and will be a part of their children’s education if given the opportunity.
The most important thing that I have learned is being prepared, dedicated, and open-minded can help me be successful as an educator. Being prepared speaks to knowing the students, parents, and the community. It also means having each day planned out very well with different contingency plans. Open-mindedness will allow me not to judge the students but help them through their days at school. It will also allow me to empower the students and have them decide which direction the class is heading. Dedication speaks to being there each and every day, whether it is in class or staying after class so a student can get some homework done in a warm and safe environment. So all in all I would say that I have learned much more than I could have imagined. The reason that I am not scared away from all of the horror stories is the mere fact that plenty of hope does exist in the inner city.