Ian Leonard ’13 – After spending six days in Chicago, it’s safe to say that there are a number of things I’ve learned that I can take home from the experience. Having spent the majority of my life in environments quite different from what Chicago has to offer — small, quiet cities and towns — there were certainly plenty of questions I set out to investigate. While the urban setting is quite unlike towns like Crawfordsville, I wanted to gain a better understanding of the culture, both in and out of the classroom. The majority of my time during the urban experience was spent at Prosser Career Academy, located roughly seventy minutes north (by train and bus) from our hostel where we resided.
he experience was very beneficial — particularly from an academic perspective — because my host teacher, Mrs. Nobleza, exposed me to the culture of the school. First and foremost, I was given the opportunity to lead a class by teaching Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet for her Freshman AP class. It was really enlightening because I gained valuable experience working with individual groups of students and in addressing the class as a whole. One of the primary questions I planned to investigate during our stay in Chicago was how English classes are structured regarding grammar at Prosser. In working with Mrs. Nobleza, I came to understand that she encourages students to write as much as possible and uses common student mistakes to shape her grammar lessons. She also showed me the value of using technology in the classroom, guiding students through in-class grammar lessons via computer and assigning homework online as well.
I think I also underestimated the importance of public transit in Chicago. The Prosser group, composed of myself and three others, awoke each morning and took both bus and train to arrive at the school. It was an interesting experience to take the same sources of transportation to school as the students. It really opened my eyes to the integral role public transportation played in the education system of Chicago and the workings of the city at large. Even though I’ll be student teaching in Crawfordsville during the fall, this urban experience taught me the importance of adapting to different academic environments, and I’ve come to appreciate what a school like Prosser has to offer as a result. Ultimately, I’ve gained a much better grasp of many aspects of urban education and am encouraged to use what I’ve learned in the educational setting down the road.