I am currently fulfilling my 30 hours required for my practicum in a very under privileged school especially compared to what I graduated high school from. After being shocked at what a difference there is in suburban and urban schools, I started thinking about a lot of those differences. After a day of presentations in my Fashion Marketing class, there was one subject I couldn’t stop thinking about which was expectations, which begged the question…

Are my high expectations of students a product of my own education and community I grew up in, or is it are they because I want students to be able to succeed in todays society?

The learning environments are certainly different but could this also change the expectations a teacher has set? Then there is the difference between the lower, middle and upper classes. And those classes differ greatly when you look at them in a suburb compared to the same classes in a city. What I view as middle class being from one of the richest counties in the country (please do not confuse this with me being rich, my family has always lived in the country where most are products of the military), would be considered high class in the school that I am currently observing/teaching in. The same goes for the lower class where I am from. Those students are lucky compared to the students in my classes. You would have to have been living under a rock to not be aware of the high teen pregnancy rate and it is common sense that the less wealthy a community, the higher the teen pregnancy rate is. However, I was not expecting to have 3 pregnant students in 1 class and another with a 2 week old baby at home. This is also my first experience with a homeless student. The first day I came in, he slept through the whole class and I wondered why the teacher allowed this. During her planning period she explained he recently became homeless and had not found a place to sleep until 4:30 that morning. Having not been exposed to this in high school, it was a shock to me and at first I was not sure how to handle it, but this student turned out to be the one who wanted to learn the most and loved asking questions.

I also wondered if the expectations my teachers had of me had an effect on the expectations I have of students. I was always expected to do my best, give 100% effort and to not slack off. I took these expectations seriously and did everything I could to never let anyone down. I’ve contemplated whether teachers think they must lower or raise their expectations based on the area they teach in. After the Decades in Fashion presentations, it was obvious these students did not have presentation skills, computer skills, or the knowledge necessary to properly research a topic. Could this be because they were not taught these skills, or because teachers did not think they could accomplish these things or is it because of the lack of access to technology? It could be any or all of these things, or it could also be due to a lack of care or respect for an education. This also made me wonder how to gauge their abilities and if I should take into account their surroundings. I may not be able to do this until I have a class of my own and figure out what works best for them and the situation.

All of this made me seriously wonder if I could successfully teach in a city and not in an area that is comparable to the one I grew up in. This was until I taught my first lesson. The school I am teaching in is predominately black with under 10 students of mine all day being white, and I am a young while female. While taking roll and ensuring I was pronouncing students’ names correctly, it became apparent that they thought they could walk all over me. It wasn’t until I basically told them I don’t put up with crap, in a much nicer and politically correct way, that they stopped talking to each other and listened to me. I now feel more confident than ever about teaching and am excited to get a classroom of my own and to learn about my students and how I can best teach them the skills they will find necessary upon graduation.

 

Feel free to comment and let me know what you think about this subject!

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