Tyler Holmes ’14 – From the day students at Wabash step onto campus they are told that they will transform, grow, and evolve through experiences offered by the college that take their students to areas all over the world. It was my privilege this past week to be a part of one of these highly influential experiences the college offers. This experience was a week-long urban immersion teaching class in Chicago, Illinois.
During my week in Chicago I had the opportunity to experience numerous cultures, events, activities, and most importantly inner-city schools. All of these activities were significant but what I learned by being in my host school, known as Prosser Career Academy, was beyond humbling and what I learned there is beyond words. My time at Prosser included many wonderful moments, some demoralizing moments, but ultimately there were moments that left me with an undeniable sense that education is where I belong. To explain this previous statement and why I feel so strongly about this trip, I will give an example from the day I taught a lesson to a creative writing class.
One of my main objectives during this trip was to answer a question I posed too myself at the beginning of the week. This question was how teachers in urban settings gain respect from such a diverse group of students. I felt that this question was highly important and one that every future teacher should attempt to answer for themselves prior to teaching. Throughout the week I noticed how my host teacher treated and acted around her students and what I found might seem obvious but it is a goal that many put to the side and do not realize just how important it is. What I found was that honesty, sincerity, and genuine care for the students’ lives far outweighed the importance of the amount of knowledge the teacher has. This became irrefutably clear during my lesson I taught. At the beginning of the class when I was asking general questions to the students they seemed to not care I was there and did not want to hear what I was saying. However when I gave a personal story that led into the rest of the lesson, they became more open, participated, and even read some extremely personal narratives that they had written. This moment led to my realization on just how important respect, honesty, and sincerity are and it definitely influenced my future teaching.
Again, this trip was valuable just through all of the cultural experiences we had during the week but what I think is so important was the humbling experiences we all had in our urban schools that are quite different from those in Crawfordsville, Indiana. I am proud to say I was a part of this immersion trip and it is certainly one that I will remember for life.