From the Perspective of Chicago Semester Student Teachers

Friday, December 5, 2014

Student Teaching - Looking Back and Looking Forward

by Rogelia Pena - Cooper Dual Language Academy

Student teaching in Chicago has been one of the best choices I have made while pursuing an education in the United States. I wanted the challenge of teaching English Language Learners with low socioeconomics and surrounded by urban issues, and that is exactly what I got! Even though it was hard to keep up with lesson planning, grading, monitoring struggling learners, working on my literacy performance-assessment, etc., it was all worth it! I was very blessed to work with my cooperating teacher, who took on the job of a facilitator, mentor, and friend. I will miss her and the students very much! I also met other wonderful teachers at Cooper Dual Language Academy. It is because of their hard work that the school is now considered a number one school in Chicago despite the many challenges that these students face in their communities.

I have not just learned from these teachers, but also from my Chicago Semester supervisor. Her feedback has been helpful during this time of professional development. It was so rewarding to read her last piece of advice, “Find a teaching job!” Along with the other Chicago Semester staff, my supervisor has been approachable and caring. In class, the other student teachers and I learned about meaningful ways of engaging with diverse students in an urban setting. My favorite topic was definitely about social justice and its relation to education. In fact, I was encouraged by my supervisor to attend the annual Curriculum Fair hosted by the Teachers for Social Justice (TSJ) in Chicago.

TSJ is an organization of teachers, administrators, pre-service teachers, and other educators working in all sorts of environments in the Chicago area. These educators believe that their role involves confronting the social, political, and educational inequities within U.S. school settings. Like me, they see children and youth as critical change agents essential to the struggle for social justice. When I see my students struggling to thrive academically, when I see their brokenness, and when I see their needs, my heart breaks. When I see other students being confined to their neighborhoods in the most segregated city in America, and when I hear about the significant number of students who are experiencing homelessness in Chicago, my heart also breaks. But then I see the work of wonderful teachers who are breaking students’ paradigms and fostering counter-cultural mindsets I get hopeful. I believe education can facilitate social change.

I also get hopeful when I see the church actively involved in the lives of the youth. I have been particularly blessed by the members of Little Village’s New Life Community Church. Their work in my neighboring community is amazing and the way they invest in people is genuine. Honestly, I would not have made it through this semester if it was not for the church that has welcomed me with open arms. I am also thankful for my housemates, especially my roommate, with whom I have shared professional and personal struggles and joys every day. As an international student I am somewhat used to goodbyes, but I still dislike them! I am truly going to miss all these wonderful communities I have been a part of while living in Chicago, especially my students. It is my hope to find a job in the city once I graduate in May. I believe cities have the potential to be catalysts for change. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Student Teaching - Week #12

by Rogelia Pena - Cooper Dual Language Academy

Mrs. V as Frida Kahlo
I am the "Weeping Woman"
I cannot begin to express how blessed I am for working with my cooperating teacher! We have many things in common. She learned English growing up, so she knows about the challenges and rewards of being bilingual and bicultural. She also likes to salsa dance, and she wants to go to Brazil one day (since she’s married to a Brazilian). But most importantly, she is passionate about her students. I have learned many classroom management strategies from her, as well as other lifelong lessons.

Classroom management is not something one can learn through a college course. It comes with practice and by being immersed in the classroom. My cooperating teacher has supported me along the way to refine my time management and classroom management skills. More than preventing and addressing bad behavior, I have learned that classroom management is about staying connected with the students. When this happens, lessons are smooth and students’ learning can be maximized. For example, my teacher taught me how to “read” my students and follow the natural flow of the classroom. One day, students were working on a science experiment and they were so engaged that they were getting louder and louder. I tried different things to quiet them down but nothing was working. I could tell that they just wanted to share their findings, and they could not hold their excitement. My teacher told me that in times like that I should just let them talk with their “elbow partner” about their discoveries. They just need to get it out of their system!

At first, I thought that by doing so I would be yielding to my students’ will. But in reality, I was not losing control… I was just adjusting my decisions based on my students’ needs. Students like options, choices, and to be heard; so why stop natural curiosity? I would say that is one of the most valuable things I have learned from my cooperating teacher.

Humbolt Park neighborhood
Talking about curiosity, I finally tried Puerto Rican food in Humboldt Park, one of Chicago’s Hispanic neighborhoods. Even though I live in Pilsen and I get to enjoy awesome Mexican food, I was longing for something more similar to home (Caribbean food). So, on Veterans Day one of my roommates and I went to a place called La Bomba (The Bomb). Indeed, flavors were explosive! Before that, we also went to the Shedd Aquarium, which was free on that day. I got very excited when I saw a section on the Amazon. It reminded me of Venezuela (I don’t live in the jungle but I have visited it before). There were piranhas, electric eels, and even an anaconda. My students were excited to see the pictures I had taken! Some of them have never been to a museum before, which is a shame since they live in Chicago. Hopefully, I will accompany them to the Museum of Science and Industry in the Spring. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Student Teaching - Week #8

by Rogelia Pena - Cooper Dual Language Academy

I am like a grandma when it comes to technology. When I finally decided to get a smartphone I didn’t even know how to download an app or text through a touch screen. I know, it’s embarrassing! So my sister basically took the phone from me, downloaded and updated everything for me, and handed it back expecting that I would magically know how to work that thing. Well, of course I couldn’t. I told her that she needed to show me and then see me do all of those things by myself before I could handle my new toy independently. Most people actually learn new things through a step-by-step process similar to the one I went through with my phone. Implementing this process in the classroom has been interesting and effective.
In the field of education, this process is known as gradual release of responsibility. The purpose of this teaching technique is for students to have all the previous experiences and supports they need before they must master a skill on their own. This strategy is particularly important for ELLs (English Language Learners) because these students not only have to learn a new skill, but they also learn it in a second language. It requires extra effort and more steps in between before they can become proficient at a new skill or task.

I implemented this strategy last week by having students work on a sample activity with me. We read a story together and I showed them how to identify its plot elements. After that, students practiced the skill of “dissecting” a different story. I thought that they would be ready to do this independently by the third lesson, but they still needed more guided practice. Sometimes they need to read the same paragraph at least three times before they can understand it. Therefore, they definitely need a gradual release of responsibility with all the steps in between, which takes more than one day. Because everything takes longer, getting through the content is also a slower process compared to the other two fourth-grade classrooms I teach.
At first, I was getting very impatient and a bit frustrated because my lessons were not going as planned. They were good lessons, but they were not tailored to the specific needs of my students. After talking to my cooperating teacher and getting to know my students better, I have now accepted the fact that these students have their own pace… and it is OK. Their bilingualism is an asset and not a hindrance!
At the Roosevelt Theater for a performance of
Swan Lake by the Joffrey Ballet 
It took me awhile to remember how challenging it was for me to learn English (not that I have stopped). As I watched a ballet performance last week, I was also reminded of how much practice I needed with dancing in order to feel comfortable and do it independently. I still can’t dance ballet, but I can dance salsa now! One of the art events planned by the Chicago Semester was the classic Swan Lake performed by the prestigious Joffrey Ballet. It was long but definitely worth it! It was amazing to see what humans’ bodies can do with so much practice and dedication. It was very fun to dress up for such an occasion and to enjoy this unique show with other Chicago Semester students.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Student Teaching - Week #7

by Rogelia Pena - Cooper Dual Language Academy

For most of my life, teaching was off my radar. However, when I was a junior in high school I started working as an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher at an institute in Venezuela. Since I needed to earn some money, I figured that I could use my English language skills to do so. After being hired and trained for a few months, I got my first classroom full of 8 to 12 year old children. However, it was when I taught middle schoolers from the poorest area of my city that I fell in love with teaching. These students taught me more about the world than the English grammar I taught them. They opened my eyes toward poverty, cultural oppression, socioeconomic issues, social-emotional learning, social inequalities, and about the severe educational gaps that affect all of the above. I realized that I may not be able to feed all the poor, but that I could do something through education. This is why my career choice goes well beyond liking kids.  I believe that education can empower minorities and the oppressed.

The first art event I attended through Chicago Semester consisted of a documentary about homelessness in Chicago. I still can’t believe there are about 15,000 children registered as homeless (students in temporary living situations) in the Chicago Public Schools. In the video there was a teacher who became an advocate for one of her homeless students. She also enabled him to connect with literature heroes and stories that resonated with him. Because of her guidance, he was also able to go to college. I think that a lot of social changes start with education, which is why I feel honored to become a teacher.
LaCasa roommates
In order to do so, and to get certified to teach in the state of Illinois, I need to submit and pass a summative assessment that contains video clips of my teaching, samples of students' work, lesson plans, and about 20 pages of commentaries (most of it logically linked to educational theorists and research). As a student teacher, I not only spend about 2 hours preparing lesson plans everyday (after teaching for eight hours), but I also work on my certification project, attend a night class, constantly communicate with other teachers, parents, and students, and I spend about 4 hours grading (weekly) while I pretend to watch TV with my roommates. Do I get a lot of free time after work? No. Do I have lots and lots of energy after 3pm?  No. Do I get to explore the city of Chicago every day?  No. Is all of this work fun?  Not always. Is it all worth it?  DEFINITELY!  The world needs ambassadors of God’s love and freedom, and I think it starts with committed and passionate educators.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Student Teaching - Fall 2014

by Rogelia Pena - Cooper Dual Language Academy

I clearly remember one of my Judson professors asking my class, “Honestly guys, when could you ever afford to live in Chicago’s Gold Coast if it is not through this program?” I won’t deny that living in the city sounded very tempting when I heard about the Chicago Semester Program (CS). However, after talking to one of the CS representatives about what my teaching experience would be like in the city, I was more than convinced that I wanted to do the Chicago Semester Program during the fall semester of my senior year. A CS representative told me that in the city I would find diverse students with urban problems…just what I wanted!
My name is Rogelia Pena, and I am an international student from Caracas, Venezuela. Even though I have been in the U.S. for over three years now, I have not fully adapted to living here. Something was just not right. At first, I did not know what it was. I mean, my native language is not English but language is not necessarily a barrier for me. I know my family is far away, but I have never felt lonely here either. Judson University’s international community has given me a very special place to belong to. What was it then? Then it hit me: I simply missed the city life too much. Judson is great, but it is still located in the suburbs. In the city, I have met people that have very different cultural, religious, and political backgrounds. But we are still in the same boat: we all experience urban problems and yet we are in awe of the hidden secrets that the city embraces. The Chicago Semester Program exposes young adults like me to this paradoxical reality of the city (specifically Chicago).
Cooper Dual Language Academy
As a student teacher who believes that education has a great impact in social issues, I chose to student teach in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), which is a very challenging school districts. It is the third largest school district in the nation, as well as one of the most diverse. Since my concentration is on English as a Second Language (ESL) and bilingual education, I was placed at Cooper Elementary Dual Language Academy, a school with a student population that is over 95% Hispanic. I am in a 4th grade bilingual classroom, and I am teaching Language Arts and Science. Even though the students are very limited in their English proficiency, they have rich cultural backgrounds. I look forward to getting to know them more, and I can’t wait to start teaching them full–time in a few weeks.
By the way, I decided to live right across the street from the school at La Casa, an awesome building for college students located right in the heart of the Pilsen neighborhood. I am not living in the fancy Gold Coast neighborhood like I originally wanted. However, every day I am grateful for choosing Pilsen whenever I meet a friendly neighbor in the street, get some fresh bread at the bakery, or stand in front of a colorful mural. There is so much to do and see in this rich neighborhood!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

End of Semester Thoughts...

Blair, Krissa, Rita, Erin & Drew
Imagine that an education major from your college is considering student teaching at Chicago Semester.  Consider what you would tell that person in order to encourage him/her to apply to Chicago Semester. 

Blair Berhow-Goll, Central College, Secondary Education

The most enjoyable part about Chicago Semester was the kids. Honestly, I look at the student’s I have gotten to work with, and I praise the Lord that He placed me with them. I loved loving them. I loved teaching them. I loved joking with them. I loved learning how to interact with students from different backgrounds and lifestyles than my own. Teaching in small-town Midwest, simply wouldn’t have given me the same experiences and joys.

I have learned so much about myself while teaching here. I know I can handle inner-city students. I know that I can teach. Walking into this experience, I felt like a child. I remember saying, there is absolutely no way I am ready for this, no way I know enough, no way I am strong enough, no way I am prepared enough. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. Nearly 4 years of a college education will prepare you for teaching. I learned the strength and power I have inside of a classroom. I have the power to put students at ease or to stress them out.

Chicago is one of the most sublime experiences you will have, if you choose to teach here. It is all that sublime implies; beautifully inspiring. With the people, buildings, lifestyle, culture, neighborhoods, and students I can imagine it to be very hard to be disappointed with a decision to be here.

Rita Clousing, Calvin College, Elementary Education

Student teaching through the Chicago Semester is a GREAT experience. It’s not easy, but it gives you an honest perspective as to what it is like to teach full time in an urban setting. I found that this semester is a great transition between college and “real life”, which has been nice. Living in the city is so fun, as there is always so much to do in culturally diverse settings that aren’t available elsewhere. This semester will challenge you and push you to grow as an individual and as a teacher. My experience in CPS left me confident of my teaching abilities, and the kind of teacher I want to be. Come to Chicago. Experience the city, meet some incredible children, and make some new friends. I’m so grateful for my experience here in Chicago!

Krissa Hetletvedt, Northwestern College, Elementary Education

What I enjoyed most about my student teaching experience through Chicago Semester were the kids. Kids are kids no matter where you are, but the kids at this school were extra special to me. I loved working with these kids because they came from backgrounds and cultures that are so different from my own. They taught me something new everyday! What I have learned about myself for my future career as a teacher is that I have the desire to teach kids that really need that support, stability, and love that they might not be getting at home. I would definitely recommend participating in the student teaching program through Chicago Semester. I believe that I will be a better teacher because of my teaching experience in Chicago.

Erin Schrupp, Bethel University, Elementary Education

When coming to Chicago Semester, I was nervous about being in a big city with a whole bunch of people I didn’t know. My family wasn’t here, I didn’t have any friends here, and I felt I was starting my life over in a way. But I never realized that the classroom I was placed in and the cooperating teacher I was placed with, would become my “family”.

My classroom becoming my family has been what I have enjoyed most about the Chicago Semester experience. Being a part of something greater than myself has always humbled me and filled me with joy. I enjoyed traveling on the “L” and taking the bus to my school MOST days. I enjoyed this overall experience of really delving into the city in a new light and daring to try new things I never would have back home. I have tried a whole bunch of different cuisines and have seen different sights that I never would have expected to see. I’ve been blessed with two of the greatest roommates I could have been placed with during this time who have comforted me and have also challenged me. I absolutely adored this whole experience and wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Student teaching in Chicago has taught me a lot about myself. I came here and had two options: I could remain the same old Erin I was back home, or I could be someone completely different if I really wanted to. I decided to just be myself and see where it took me. I realize that since coming here, I’m a lot stronger than I once was. I’m not talking physically strong (although walking everywhere every day has increased my cardio) I’m talking mentally and spiritually strong. When I came here, I hated being alone and I struggled with traveling by myself everywhere or every single day. No one was here to really hang out with me and I felt lonely a lot of times. I continued to struggle through this with the Lord as He always proved faithful and gave me peace. There was one day where I was over by Lake Michigan and I finally felt content exactly where I was. I felt OK with being alone and traveling alone. It has made me more independent and I am very thankful because of that.

In regards to my students, they have taught me more than I ever could have taught them. They’ve taught me what it’s like to say you’re sorry when you know you’ve wronged someone, that you should love the life you’re living even if you’re just making a paper airplane, and that hugs really can go a long way when someone needs one. They’ve taught me what it really means to love without judging someone and to not be afraid of who I am because who I am is perfect and exactly who I’m supposed to be. My students have made me a better-rounded individual and for that I am extremely grateful. If it wasn’t for them, my eyes wouldn’t have been opened to all the silliness and fun opportunities I’ve had in Chicago thus far. I whole-heartedly love my students and I honestly don’t know what I’ll do without them.

Drew LeGendre, University of Mount Union, Middle School

Personally, I understand all of the reasons that students choose not to student teach in Chicago.  Making my decision, I was giving up spending my senior year on campus with my friends; I was leaving an environment I was comfortable with, and leaving a school system I was familiar with.  I was going to live in a city I was unfamiliar with, a city classified as “dangerous”, and the third biggest city in the country.

After completing my student teaching in Chicago, I do not regret a single thing about my decision. With Chicago Semester, I have enjoyed most experience the transition between college and the real world.  Not only am I working a full time job, but I am living in the real world, which is not surrounded by a college campus or town.  I have learned so many things that will help prepare me for my future, and being on my own. 
From Chicago Semester, I have learned that I am ready for all that life past college will throw at me.  I learned how to react to students directing their anger and frustration towards me.  I learned how to write a unit lesson plan, and to teach it in a three week period. I have learned how to take a shower, drink two cups of coffee, eat breakfast, get dressed, and remember to bring everything for school in 45 minutes.   I have learned to take my family and friends to see the sights of Chicago, and experience all the city has to offer. I have learned how to prepare students for exams that will determine what high school they will attend and if they will have to stay for summer school.  

I have learned how to buy a homeless man a dinner, and shake his hand when he is crying out of happiness.   Living and teaching in Chicago has transitioned me from being a student to being a professional, and being a positive person, both inside and outside of the classroom.  I would encourage every student to step outside of their comfort zone, and experience living and teaching in Chicago.  Every person will learn and gain something different, but at the end of it, you are guaranteed to come out prepared for anything the future might throw at you.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Student Teaching - The End!

by Erin Schrupp - Ray Elementary

Saganaki at The Parthenon Restaurant

Well, the semester has finally come to a close and it’s very bittersweet. During my last week at Chicago Semester, we had a gathering at a Greek restaurant reminiscing on our experiences in the great city of Chicago. 

In regards to my own classroom, it was such a sad last day. My little kiddos made me a booklet titled, “The most important thing about Ms. Schrupp”. They each had  a page where they drew me pictures, wrote me sweet notes, and included their picture.  They choked me up with all their hugs and in that moment I couldn’t believe my time had to end. I got one of their school shirts and had them all sign it and write whatever they wanted. I will keep this shirt forever and I absolutely love it!

Blair, Krissa, Rita, Erin,and Drew

This picture is of my fellow student teachers who I was able to grow with during this semester. I wanted to also include a picture of my class while I was trying to get all of them to smile at the same time.  It’s hard to get that many second graders to smile at the same time! But because of privacy issues, I can't post it here.)  

My experience at Chicago Semester has definitely been one I will never forget. They definitely helped prepare me to have my own classroom one day. I plan on staying in this great city of Chicago to try and start my teaching career, and I have Chicago Semester to thank for that.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Student Teaching - Week #11

by Erin Schrupp - Ray Elementary

Hey all, sorry I haven’t been on top of my writing lately. I’ve been busy with my WONDERFUL STUDENTS! So this past week has been a pretty good week. I’m finally starting to get into my “groove” in regards to student teaching. The first week I started student teaching I was absolutely EXHAUSTED. I don’t think I was really prepared for it until I actually had to take over everything. Yes, I said everything. Every little thing that you can think of…I took over it. So the past couple of weeks have been a little rough, but I’m finally starting to feel comfortable remembering everything I have to do. I knew that life as a teacher would be hard, but I know that if you are well-organized and are very passionate about teaching, you’ll be just fine. It’s been cool for me to see my students continue learning, even though I’m the one who’s teaching them.

Some special moments that have happened this past week have dealt with my students. My students are now calling my cooperating teacher Ms. Schrupp (which is my name). This is super fun and hilarious because my students are calling my name so much that they accidentally call my teacher my name as well. It makes me feel like I’m doing something right, as my students continue to ask me questions and depend on me whole-heartedly for their learning. 

A verse that has really been on my heart this past week is: Philippians 4:6 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."  It is hard not to be anxious, nervous, or stressed-out when you have so many things to do.  But it is ALWAYS important to remember that we need to bring our stressors to the One who can handle them.  We can't go through life on our own.  We need a Savior, and He is holding me up throughout this whole experience.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Student Teaching - Week #9

by Erin Schrupp - Ray Elementary

Right now, I’m in the middle of FINALLY finishing my EdTPA (YES!) and beginning to teach full-time. Yes, full-time means everything in the elementary grades. Every single little thing you can think of. Remembering the attendance, the lunch count, switching the jobs in my classroom, giving the students homework to take home every night, classroom management checklists, copies, copies, AND MORE COPIES! 

To be honest it’s been an exhausting experience and I’m only in my first week. However, if I wasn't exhausted right now, I would think something was wrong. I know that good teachers put in extra time for their students. I should be exhausted! It’s my first time completely taking over everything. But even though I’m exhausted, I feel extremely humbled. I’m humbled because as I took over everything, my students act as if this is normal. They come to me for everything now and they trust that I will be there to help them learn. I’ve realized this past week that the reason I go to school every day is because my students need me. They need me to help them learn and to succeed in life. Now, that’s a pretty big responsibility if you ask me! Needless to say, I am so extremely busy right now, but it’s so rewarding at the same time!

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performs Jiří Kylián
in its 2014 Spring Series
This past week Chicago Semester hosted this art activity where students got to go and watch a ballet. I was so bummed, but I was so busy with student teaching that I wasn’t able to attend! However, I’m still so thankful that Chicago Semester offers us these activities to go to that help us get a different taste of Chicago every week.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Student Teaching - Week #8

by Guest Blogger Rita Clousing - Mark Sheridan Academy

Note - Erin hurt her back and has been out of commission all week, so her roommate, Rita is blogging this week.  We expect Erin to return next week.

Smiles, disappointment, laughs, weariness, testing, birthday, jigging, joy. All of these encapsulate my past week.

Last week was a journey full of many hidden surprises. ISAT testing was taking place in grades 3-8. For 3 hours every morning our school was on testing lock down for tests that don’t seem to matter any more. But, because of a deal CPS signed, the students are required to undergo the stress of standardized testing.

With that said, my fifth graders were champs. After our routine bathroom run, we would blast the song “Happy” from Despicable Me 2, and have a 4-minute dance party to get the oxygen flowing through our brains. Needless to say, there were ear-to-ear smiles as we all clapped our hands. And for those four minutes we all felt like we were in a room without a roof.

Yet the days could feel long, and students who are normally tired of school were even less willing to apply themselves. No matter how I tried to show those students I care about them, they chose not to respond. It’s disappointing to see smart students start giving up.

I’ve been challenged this week. I am the Lord’s hands and feet. To a child who is so thirsty and, under all those layers, is grasping for help. I am His loving glances, encouraging words, and enthusiastic high-fives.

Drew, Krissa, Me, and Blair with my birthday muffins
Although there are moments when I feel weary, the Lord always surprises me with His joy. On Thursday it was my birthday. So on Tuesday night during our seminar, Lisa and my fellow student teachers surprised me with muffins and candles! It was so sweet of all of them to think of my birthday, and I was so surprised! Thursday morning I wasn’t planning on the students doing anything for my birthday, but they also surprised me with a very sweet birthday wish on the board. Throughout the day my students would grin and say, “Happy Birthday, Ms. Clousing!” When we rotated for Science, my other class came in singing “Happy Birthday”. I couldn’t help but laugh and feel loved and appreciated by the students and staff. My roommates were very sweet and spent time celebrating with me that night. I went to Grand Lux Café on Michigan Ave for dinner, which was absolutely delicious. Their beignets are divine.

Wednesday night was full of tap-dancing joy as we went to a production called The Heartbeat of Home with the Chicago Semester program. I really had no idea what to expect, but it turned out to be a show mostly of Irish dancing mixed with acts of tap-dancing, salsa, and hip-hop. The talent of the dancers was out of this world! It was a great night downtown!

It was a productive, surprising week in Chicago, and more adventures are in store for the weeks to come. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Student Teaching - Week #7

by Erin Schrupp - Ray Elementary

A Bad Case of Stripes
This past week has definitely been one for the books. Right now, we’ve been working on completing our EdTPA requirements. I was videotaped the whole week on my Literacy unit that specifically focused on cause and effect with the skill of monitoring and clarifying to help improve their comprehension. I’ve learned so much about how my students learn the best as well as, how to best fit their individual needs. 
I read the book, A Bad Case of Stripes to them to discuss what strategies I use to help monitor and clarify. It was also a great activity to read when trying to find cause-effect sentences. Because of this book, I had my students dress in all stripes, which is why I look so funny in the picture. They all LOVED dressing silly in their stripes for this book!

Right now, I’ve taken over just about everything in the classroom except for Science and/or Social Studies. It’s been hard work, but it’s been super cool to see how the students’ views of me have changed since I first met them. They see me as another one of their teachers now, which is a really humbling experience. What’s great about being here, is that being at Ray Elementary, has become a part of community for me. I don’t have any family here and I only have a couple friends, so going into my classroom feeling like they want me there and need me there is really quite wonderful. I’ve come to realize that even though I came to Chicago to teach these students, they’re beginning to teach ME things. Things about myself and about life. I never knew I would become the student and my second graders would become my teacher.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Student Teaching - Week #6

by Erin Schrupp - Ray Elementary School

William H Ray Elementary
So far, I’ve stayed on a top of my lesson plans. It’s been great to coordinate really well with my cooperating teacher and to get feedback on my lesson plans in case I need to change anything before I teach them. I’ve been able to understand how important my position is as a student teacher at Ray Elementary and I’ve really taken a liking to feeling like a real teacher when I go home. I feel like a real teacher because I grade papers, plan lessons, and talk about how I can differentiate for my students. 

I recently experienced a special moment while I was teaching math. It was after instructional time was over and the students were about to split into working with partners. I walked to the back of the room and I heard one student say to another student, “Man, Miss Schrupp is really getting a hang of this teacher-thing!”  It made me smile because the students see that I’m trying and they can tell that I am doing a good job. This means so much coming from them because I feel that as kids, they are very observant. Especially if they have been taught from my cooperating teacher the whole year. It really boosted my spirits about how I was doing and how they were perceiving me as a teacher. It’s really great to have all my students’ support as I go through this semester of teaching! SUCH a great moment!
The view of downtown from Promontory Point, a Hyde Park landmark.
Spray from the waves on Lake Michigan have frozen on these bushes. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Student Teaching - Week #5

by Erin Schrupp - Ray Elementary School

So this past week has been fun in terms of the activities my roommates and I have been involved with. Chicago Semester gives us the opportunity to go to great art events every Thursday night. You’re able to get different tastes of Chicago that you may have never gotten if you weren’t told about them. I’m very thankful for this opportunity that Chicago Semester gives us to go to these events. It really causes us to step outside our comfort zones and experience the art of the city in various ways. IT’S SUPER COOL and causes you to become a well-rounded individual.  

Chicago Art Institute
This week we went to the Chicago Art Institute. 
It was so fun to see all the different types of art ranging from Modern Art, Folktale Art, and even some European and Japanese art. What a cool world we live in, right?! It was a great experience to have with my roommates and I know we really appreciated the different types of art and history that were displayed in the Institute.

The second activity that my roommates and I did this week, was an activity we decided to do all on our own. It’s called AERIAL YOGA. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it before, but it’s fantastic! There are all these little shops around Gold Coast that can give you some pretty sweet deals on fun classes to take, or just different things to experience if you look hard enough! Anyway, we were able to get a complimentary session from Lulu Lemon to try out this aerial yoga-thing…whatever it was!
AIR is a suspension training program fusing ballet barre work
with yoga + Pilates on aerial silk hammocks
We decided to be adventurous and to our surprise, we all thoroughly enjoyed this! We enjoyed it so much that we decided to go a second time. This time, we only had to pay one dollar because AirFit (that’s the business) gave us a promotional code for it! I’d be lying if I told you my body wasn’t sore even as I’m writing this, but hey, it was a great way to step outside the box and get in shape! That’s all for now, I’m so excited to see what this next week has in store for me!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Student Teaching - Spring 2014

by Erin Schrupp - Ray Elementary

I am with my roommates,
who are also student teachers.
My name is Erin Schrupp, the girl in the front of the picture, and I’m the first person from Bethel University to enroll in Chicago Semester this year. I’m from St. Paul, Minnesota and so far I have absolutely loved being here in Chicago. I really love city-life, which is funny because I grew up in a pretty small town. It’s already been a growing, yet challenging experience and I have only been here for three weeks! I live in the Gold Coast area which is a fantastic place for eating, exploring, shopping, and eating some more. I’m so excited to explore this city more in-depth and really dive into the different cultures of the neighborhoods!

I am currently involved in the Student Teaching program and was placed at William H. Ray Elementary school. Ray is a neighborhood, public school that has a focus on speaking Spanish and is located in the Hyde Park neighborhood.
William H. Ray Elementary
This school is composed of 710 students: 51% are low-income, 55% are African-American and 21% are White. I get the privilege to be in a second grade classroom! I’m in love with all my students already. I’ve been so blessed by the cooperating teacher am working with. She has made me feel so comfortable and welcomed that I already feel as though Ray Elementary has captured a piece of my heart. I definitely know this semester is going to be a challenging, yet memorable semester!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

End of Semester Thoughts #2

Megan, Sarah, Lauren, Daniel, Alayna, Paige, and Carole

Imagine that an education major from your college is considering student teaching at Chicago Semester.  Consider what you would tell that person in order to encourage him/her to apply to Chicago Semester
Sarah Boyer – Judson University
Student taught at Peterson Elementary
I enjoyed the people the most during my student teaching experience.  I met twenty or more new people and I have made lasting friendships with them. This program shows you people you may have never met, and that is great to see a new perspective in the world, yourself, and your teaching.
Additionally, I would add that on top of having great staff at Chicago Semester, great staff at your Chicago Public School, you are surrounded by the greatest city!  Living and teaching in Chicago allows you to have a new experience every day.  You can travel 10 minutes and be in a totally new environment, where the primary language could be very different from your native language. This exposes you to lots of new culture, food, shops, and people.  Chicago Semester has the best of both worlds; great placements in Illinois’ largest school district and living in Chicago which is the greatest city. 
I have learned that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.  I want to teach in a big city with a lot of diversity.  I have learned so much about acceptance of others and acceptance of myself.  Chicago will always have a place in my heart because it is what exploded the passion inside for helping, inspiring, and teaching others.
 Lauren Hughes – University of Mount Union
Student taught at Farnsworth Elementary
The most enjoyable part about the Chicago Semester experience is living in the city and working with such a diverse group of students. I felt that by working in the city I was able to experience more here than I would have been able to by doing my student teaching back in Ohio. I truly enjoyed my teachers and teaching experience at Farnsworth, I have had two great cooperating teachers and lots of great students.
Another enjoyable aspect of the Chicago Semester experience was the city itself. I have had a blast exploring the city and seeing all that it has to offer. If you sign up for this experience you owe it to yourself to make sure you spend time getting out on the weekends and going to the different neighborhoods.
While being in Chicago, I learned more about myself than I expected to. I learned more about my own teaching style and how I handle different situations that may arise while teaching, along with how I handle being on my own in a city. I learned that I was able to find my way around the city and use the CTA without a problem, which was a big concern of mine before coming here. I learned a lot about myself by being here without my family and main support system. I learned about how I can be extremely independent, which was good for me to grow as a person and as a professional.
I had an amazing Chicago Semester experience and would encourage anyone who is thinking about taking this opportunity to do it because it was the best semester of college for me.
Paige Myers - Central College                                           
Student taught at O.A. Thorp Scholastic Academy
I truly enjoyed my experience here at Chicago Semester. I loved being in a big city with all the entertainment you could want at your fingertips. Weekends were a great time to explore the city and hang out with the other students in the program. Now that it is close to the end of the semester, I have a feeling of great accomplishment. Student teaching is hard no matter where you are. Chicago Semester added to that for me because this is the first time I have been this far, for this long from my family and friends. There are other contributing factors like the commute that make it harder than other placements. The commute for me was close to an hour and fifteen minutes each way. That wears you down. The class sizes are bigger and the resources are limited. Knowing that I can teach under these circumstances makes me feel like I can take on any job thrown at me. I would say do it for your personal growth and to have that feeling of accomplishment at the end of the semester!
Alayna Mucci – University of Mount Union
Student taught at Jamieson Elementary
Chicago Semester is a wonderfully diverse and challenging experience. I have learned so much about the profession of teaching, the city of Chicago, and most of all myself. Through my student teaching placement I have learned how to best accommodate diverse students and their families. I have also learned what I would like my classroom t environment to be and the role I can play in students’ lives. I have also learned that the city is where I meant to be and that is here in the fabulous city of Chicago. Student teaching through Chicago Semester has been one of the greatest learning experiences of my life.  Challenging? Of course, but worth it? Absolutely.
 Megan Rensink – Central College
Student taught at O.A. Thorp Scholastic Academy
In this fourth grade placement, I was very fortunate to be working with the teacher I was given. With my first placement not working out right away, she was able to take me in and gave me the exact encouragement that I needed to see that this is what I really am supposed to do with my life and I shouldn’t let anyone discourage me. Your cooperating teacher is the person you spend most of your time with each day and my experience was that much more wholesome because of our relationship.
In more ways than one, I have learned that I prefer working in an elementary school placed in a small-town setting rather than the big city like Chicago. I feel like since that is just what I have always known, that is where my heart is and that is what I’ll always love. Student-teaching in Chicago has been a huge learning experience, but I feel that I have seen the great benefits of teaching in a small public school and that is where I’ll always prefer to teach.
 Daniel Schreiber – Judson University
Student taught at Peterson Elementary
While the Chicago Semester program provided a great number of positive experiences over the semester, the experience I enjoyed the most was the opportunity to teach an incredibly diverse student population in an urban setting.  This experience was quite different from the previous practicum experiences I had in suburban Chicago schools, which did not have anywhere near the diversity at the school I was placed at by Chicago Semester.  As a K-12 physical education teacher, I debated which grades I enjoy teaching the most before I entered my student teaching placement.  Through this experience, I learned that I truly enjoy working with Elementary students.  While I enjoy teaching middle and high school students, I discovered that I work especially well with younger students.  Since I plan to teach in an international school after graduation, Chicago Semester's placement in a diverse school was a perfect fit to help me in my pursuit towards an international teaching career.