Jacob Sheridan ’14 – Today was our second full day in Chicago and my second day at Rauner College Prep. Coming from the small town of Culver, IN, whose population of approximately 1,400, adapting to the life in Chicago has been a great learning experience. I am starting to get a hang of the public transit system. To get to school I walk from our hostel at 24 E. Congress to the LaSalle stop of the Blue Line subway. I take the train to the Chicago/Milwaukee stop and from there walk the few remaining blocks to Rauner.
Rauner is a charter school that prides itself on their high college acceptance rate. Although the school is relatively small, it still is a large change from my own high school experience. Rauner is predominantly composed of Hispanic and African American students, which is a vast change from my high school experience, which was predominantly white. Another difference was that the physical classrooms were smaller than I am used to, but this made sense once learned that Rauner’s building had once been an elementary school. The final major difference was that of the block schedule. In my experience as a student in high school, I had seven, 55-minute periods, but in Rauner’s block schedule, the students have three to four 90-minute classes, as well as, an advisory period before and after the regular school day.
My host teacher, Ms. Richling, and her junior level U.S. History class have been very welcoming to me. Today, because Ms. Richling only met with her AP students, who were going to be doing their final preparation for the AP test, I spent most of the day in other classrooms at Rauner. The Rauner school overall is very welcoming to guests, in fact, the students know to greet and welcome in guests who present themselves at the door. Today, I was able to observe three classrooms in addition to Ms. Richling’s. First I observed Jeremy Robinson’s Junior Literature class who spent class time reading John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.
Mr. Robinson is a Wabash alumnus who did not do the education track at Wabash, but went into Teach for America and is now in his seventh year at Rauner. I found Mr. Robinson’s technique of classroom management and his ability to motivate students absolutely phenomenal and he was more than willing to mentor to his fellow Wallies.
I also was able to observe in a freshman and sophomore literature classes, where I observed other great teaching ability. Rauner has a very impressive teaching staff. Because I have been able to observe a variety of classes in a single day, I was able to see a rudimentary development from the freshman students who clearly acted like freshman to the junior students who had clearly developed and matured since their freshman days. It makes me wonder how I acted as a high school freshman.
Overall, the EDU 330 has offered me a brief experience of the life in Chicago and specifically into the high school experience within an urban setting. I expect the week will continue to provide many lessons to be learned both for the students I am observing and for myself. Tonight, a group of us will be going to the Cubs vs. Cardinals game and that should also be a fun experience.