Program: Secondary History Education (Sociology Minor)
Hometown: Hartford, CT
Favorite aspect of SED: Urban environment at your hands!
Favorite place to hang out in Boston (other than BU of course!): Downtown Crossing
Favorite food: Too many! But my mom’s cooking for my last meal, if I had to choose.
If you could be an animal what you choose?: Dog
Favorite movie quote: “I got more legs than a bucket of chicken!”—John Leguizamo, To Wong Foo
If you could have a superpower what would it be? Invisibility
My name is Estefania Rodriguez and I am a junior studying History Education and minoring in Sociology. I decided to take part in this blog so that I can let everyone know my experience with Urban Education. I am writing from the perspective of a student that went through an urban school district and as a future teacher who hopes to teach in the inner city. I have to admit that, for me, urban education is not just a career choice, but also a passion. So far, everything I have done at BU has been aimed to continue working with urban schools or the issues that those schools deal with. It has been great to concentrate in this kind of school because it has been reassuring that city schools are where I want to be.
However, I find that most students do not share the same feelings. Surprisingly, I find that most education students, regardless of what college they attend, do not see urban education as their first choice. I have wondered about this repeatedly and can’t seem to find an answer. Every time I have worked with inner-city students, I find it rewarding and fulfilling. I love the students I have worked with and the connections I’ve made with them. But then again, I see myself in them and have shared some of their same experiences.
In trying to find why people shy away from wanting to teach in urban schools, I guess that there are some things that might be, well, terrifying. However, most of these “stories” are myths. After I’ve been to suburban schools, I just don’t seem to find a difference between the students. In every class, regardless of location, I’ve found the class clown, the troublemaker, the overachiever, the super-involved class president, the jocks, the artsy kids, the musicians, you know who I’m talking about! They’re there in the city and in the suburbs. Yes, there is probably a difference in how well prepared they are, their economic situations, home life, and a bunch of other demographics, but having different types of students is something all teachers are going to encounter, right? In addition, shouldn’t our challenge as teachers be that we overcome all these factors?
This semester, I am doing a pre-practicum in Central Middle School in Quincy. It is an extremely diverse school with children from working class families. My first day there was an awesome experience. To top it off, I was paired with a great teacher. I hope I can let you all know how I’m doing there and share more of my experiences in urban schools around Boston. I also hope that I can at least make you a little more interested in pursuing teaching in urban schools.
Peace and Love,
So I’ve been trying to avoid it, but it is finally midterms week. I just have to keep in mind that Spring Break will come soon! I am so excited for this year because I will be going to San Juan, Puerto Rico, as a coordinator for BU Alternative Spring Breaks. As part of our service, we will be educating students in after-school programs on HIV/AIDS awareness. San Juan itself has a huge HIV/AIDS epidemic and many of its residents are living in poverty. I hope I get the chance to visit some schools and see if they suffer from the same issues as urban schools in the States.
Thus far, I have begun mentoring at Boston Arts Academy with Generation Citizen, a nonprofit organization that seeks to raise civic engagement among under-represented youth in Providence and Boston. I teach classes on grass-roots advocacy, lobbying, and how government works. I also work to encourage students to take action on a community issue. Last semester, I worked with students at Charlestown High and got them to create a letter-writing campaign to tell their representatives their stories and experiences on living with violence in Boston.
Working with those students was truly empowering. What these students endure just to get to school was astonishing. Drugs, violence, abuse, and poverty are some problems, just to name a few. However, when empowered to take a stand on these issues, the students flourished and came alive at the chance to make change in their communities. This experience led me to understand the helplessness and anxiety inner-city students must feel to live with all factors in their lives and not be able to do something about it. I hope that I can continue this model when I get into my own classroom. Teachers of inner-city students must teach students not to dwell on their roadblocks, but instead lead the way to change them.
For those of you who wish to enter the world of urban education, I urge you to remember that students are not merely victims of their circumstances, but do have the power and potential to change them. When working at Charlestown, I learned how to empower my students to believe they are capable of getting their voices heard. A hurdle teachers must climb when entering city schools is how to combat such issues. However, I think we must remember that our own students can help themselves in many ways. Inner-city students can also help teachers better understand the many causes of disagreement in urban education.
I am very excited to see what action my students at Boston Arts Academy will take this semester. These students have wowed me with their talents in acting, dancing, and visual arts thus far. It is great to see that some schools have not lost focus on the arts and their importance to achievement. I look forward to letting you all know what issue my students find important and finally try to change.
See you next month!