The participation of two of the persons responsible for the partnership program in the university in our classroom was very informative. Not only did we learn more about the partnership program, what it entails, the benefits for both sides and the differences that it is making in the schools in question, but we also learned more about the politics and what goes on behind the scenes in the education world. I think that good teachers should also be aware of this backstage information, of the political aspect of education, of ways to improve their classes, their school, and their own education.
I had some previous knowledge of the types of schools that exist, but their clarifications and examples really helped to clarify the status of the different schools, the choices of parents and students, the money, the budgets and the qualifications of students and teachers, in some of the cases. It was also interesting and hopeful to learn of the schools where administrators are open to new ideas, improvements for their students and educators, partnerships, where the focus is on student achievement and progress rather than on discipline. I was particularly interested in the parental involvement factor in the schools, and the contrast between schools with and without parental involvement; the tremendous influence it has on student’s learning and willingness to learn and succeed; as well as the teacher’s relationship with parents and guardians. One of the ideas I took from the visit as well as from our classroom was that of speaking to parents either before the start of classes or during the initial week, with a possible visit to their houses, to show interest in each student and a commitment to help them learn and succeed. I also liked the idea of calling parents to let them know of the progress of their children, of something positive that happened, rather than calls simply to talk about issues, problems, and misbehaviors.
The last bit of acquired information was the idea of the culture of the urban schools (and this will apply to any school actually). But specifically related to schools where there are metal detectors and other security devices. I had never stopped to think of their impact not only on students but in teachers and administrators, and the way in which they are presented, tolerated or ignored plays an important part on the behavior of the students and how they perceive themselves and their environment.