Different Worlds

10 Mar

On Monday, I had the opportunity to sit in on two classrooms at the school where my mom works. This school is in a wealthier district, with only 10% of students qualifying for  free or reduced lunch.

There are some extreme differences, as well as similarities, between this school I visited, and the school where I am a teacher intern.

1: The building

The school in which I am a teacher intern was built in 1959. In 1989, it was “modernized” – I’m not sure what that entails, but I assume it included upgraded electrical systems and making the buildings safer. However, I’m sure someone who attended the school in the 70s would still recognize it.

The school I visited last week was completely rebuilt, from the ground up, in 2011. High-speed wireless internet, large classrooms (all about 1000 square feet), and interactive whiteboards in every classroom are just a few of the items listed on the district webpage.

2. The Students

As I mentioned above, only 10% of students at this school qualify for free or reduced lunch. I had some difficulty finding that information for my main placement school, but I believe it is between 45-55% of students – although some sources have that number as much higher.

The 3rd graders in my main placement and the 3rd graders in the class I visited are two very different groups of children. The class I visited is designated a “high achieving” or “gifted” class; students must score highly on several tests in order to qualify. The biggest difference I noticed was the amount of independent work given to students. I wonder, as I often do, if these students are able to work independently because of their ability levels, or because it has simply always been expected of them. It’s one of those chicken or the egg situations, I suppose – although I do believe that when we expect the best of our students, we receive their best.

3. The teacher/staff community

In this area, I saw virtually no difference. I sat in the staff room and ate lunch (with my mom) and chatted with teachers about school, teaching, and life in general. The conversation was hardly different than any one I usually have at lunch at my main placement. Teachers, aides, and other staff clearly love what they do, and work hard every day to make a difference in their students lives.

 

 

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3 Responses to “Different Worlds”

  1. RLT March 15, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

    What an interesting and valuable experience. Both worlds are so different, yet you point out key similarities. And both are so important. We have a responsibility to help underprivileged students access power, and we also have to teach our students how use their power responsibly. Students with a lot of power and privilege will likely always have a lot of power and privilege. If we can impact/influence how they use that power and privilege, we can direct their participation in the world in a way that is more just and equitable!!

    • teacherbecoming2013 March 15, 2013 at 8:48 pm #

      Yes! I’m so glad you added your thinking here. Teaching students to use their power in a responsible and equitable way is SUCH an important part of teaching kids who have power and privilege. The private school I did my Dyad at did a (mostly) good job of this, but I have seen other schools where kids just expected to be given what they deserved, because they deserved it.
      I’m sleepy and now I’m thinking of Spiderman – with great power comes great responsibility. But WE are the ones with the responsibility here.

      • RLT March 20, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

        A fantastic sleep-induced (metaphorical!!) connection!!

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