1. What was most helpful for you in terms of learning about urban schools and working in urban communities?
It was helpful to write and read several blogs about people’s assumptions about an urban community/education. As teachers I think that it is important to identify some of the assumptions and even prejudices that we might encounter while teaching. This is valid not only for an urban school but for any other as well, there are assumptions based on almost anything that we do, so that there would be assumptions about the schools and children going to a private or catholic school, just as there would be assumptions for students from rural areas and even suburbs. Learning about the urban community was one more step and one more opportunity that I could look into in terms of educating others. As a teacher I would like to make a difference, to cause an impact in my students, teach them to care about what they are learning and not just learn to pass a test; and teaching in an urban district may make this idea more meaningful and identifiable. I liked the fact that there was one course solely dedicated to instruction about urban education; I liked the straightforward style in which it was thought and the fact that everyone’s opinions were respected.
2. How might the course be organized differently? Think in terms of length of time for course, placement of activities, use of technology?
The course seemed packed with materials in the beginning, but then the readings dwindled. Though the syllabus had many pages, the assignment portion was left blank in the second week. It seemed that the readings were too close together at first and then none at all. Since there was a 15 blog requirement, I would have like to see more readings, or more opportunities for discussion.
The visits to the schools were great, my only complaint is that there were not organized ahead of time. Also since I was taking another course in the afternoon, I wasn’t able to attend all the schools I would have liked. Maybe the visits could be more spread out or an opportunity to visit the schools at different times. Though the presentations were nice, the most useful parts for me where the actual classroom visits, the opportunity to see teachers and students interacting; what was being used, how they were learning and how they were divided or grouped. I feel that the material that was presented could have been provided in a packet with more time dedicated to classroom interaction / visits. Maybe during the fall or spring semester there is more time for this, but nevertheless, it would have been nice in the summer as well.
I really enjoyed using the web as a tool and learning how to implement it as a tool in my future classes as well, especially the blogs which students are often already familiar with and will like the opportunity to create their own for a class. I am prone to say that technology is an integral part of life, you can’t move away from it; and teaching students how to use it effectively, properly and to their benefit is an excellent tool regardless of which subject or setting you are teaching. I had other courses that had placed readings on blackboard, and I found this useful since we did not have to purchase books.
3. What readings were most useful? What readings should be replaced? What types of readings would you have liked to have read?
I liked the readings on Teachers and Monday morning as well as the Hollywood article about the preconceived notions of urban education and what appears to work as effective methods. Both of these opened our eyes to what teachers are or are not aware of, what is missing and what could be included in educating future teachers. Additionally the Hollywood article played into many assumptions that either we held ourselves, or were familiar with from others around us and prior readings or encounters.
I would have liked to read more about teaching techniques, about what should be taught to future teachers. I would also have liked to read about success or failures in urban education; both from students and from the perspective of educators. I would also have liked to discuss the readings more in the classroom, especially since towards the end there weren’t as many readings, I would have like to have them more spaced and then have the opportunity to discuss them or interact with them during our class time.
4. What could I have done to make this a more valuable experience? What teaching styles worked for you? What could have made the learning experience more accessible for you?
I enjoyed your teaching style, open, informative, providing your doubts, your agreements or disagreements with education in general as well as sharing your experiences. I also liked the ability to read your blog with your insights, opinions and projects. The open classroom with chances to interrupt, ask questions or provide feedback was a comfortable setting. I must admit though that I liked the traditional lecturing or information providing as well, especially when we went over the politics in education. I was not aware of all of the layers or of all the differences in types of schools and funding, so that class really helped me. The only other aspect as I mentioned before, would have been the opportunity to visit the other schools at another time.