Yesterday we spent some time in La Cienega in a public school observing several classrooms. All of my placements through college were in public schools, so I was very much looking forward to our visit and observations. Although we were only there for around an hour, I came away with so much. First of all, I am so appreciative of what teachers have in the United States, dealing with resources and technology. The first room we observed was a 3rd or 4th grade social studies class and all the teacher had was a chalkboard, a piece of chalk, and tape to apply papers to the board. There was no Smartboard or rows of computers. Also, the children were in desks, in which some were too big for and some were too small for. In all of the placements I have been in, there were always computers, even in the PreK classes and always Smartboards. Also, as a teacher in the United States, I am lucky to have a wide range of resources right at my fingertips that teachers in this town just don't have access to. This visit definitely made me feel blessed for everything that I have, that can easily be taken for granted.
Another aspect of this visit that caught my attention was all the distractions these students are dealing with. At all the schools I have done work in, the buildings were big enough so that noise in other areas of the school would not distract students in the rooms. Also, the windows at all of these schools face either grass or a street. So the only distractions could be recess at certain times of the day or maybe cars going by. This is all very different from the public school in La Cienega. The second classroom we visited we noticed teachers and students constantly walking by the class, which at all times distracted students. Also, half of the windows face the street and half face the concrete playground area. In the middle of the class, we heard loud noises and lots of whistles. The band was practicing right under our windows and the students quickly ran to the windows. This went on for at least 25 minutes and this whole time the teacher could not teach because nothing would be heard, so the students just did as they pleased. I realize that this band happening is not something that goes on every day, but it was a big eye opener for me. There were constantly cars driving by, music being played, people talking, all very distracting to the students. Some of them dealt with the distractions like nothing was happening and some struggled. The teachers in both situations were much more laid back than those I have observed at home. There was constant chatter throughout the observations and not much correcting.
I feel like I could go on forever dealing with this topic, but I chose the two biggest areas I noticed. All schools are different, everyone knows that. However I think it is important to see schools in different countries because it shows a little glimpse of how education can be so unique. As a teacher, I could very well have students in my classroom who have moved from another country. These students may only know education from one view, which may not be the way my classroom or school is run. I will have to be patient during transitions. I am so glad we went there today, definitely a highlight of my trip!