Photo: NLU students in Mexico
Ten National Louis University undergraduate elementary education students recently traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico to observe teachers, share ideas with their counterparts at two teacher-training universities, and immerse themselves in the country’s culture.
The trip was part of the Chicago Teacher Partnership Program (CTPP) grant, which was awarded to a group of select Chicago universities, including National Louis, to prepare teachers in high-need Chicago public elementary schools.
Many students in the high-need Chicago public schools come from Mexico or have parents who immigrated, and they face challenges of culture and language.
The ultimate goal of the trip, which also included two National Louis professors and staff members, was to help future teachers gain a better understanding of those they’ll be helping, including not only ways to better connect them to curriculum, but also to connect with them as human beings.
The students’ itinerary involved classroom observation in a wide range of schools, from those in and around Guadalajara to rural locations. Particularly moving was a night school for children from low-income households who must also work during the day to support their families.
The group collected a list of the pros and cons of what they saw, and they were given a unique opportunity to present these findings toward the end of their trip to a special panel of the Mexican Department of Education.
They found, for example, a disparity in technology and classroom decoration among the schools. Some had computers, but they were broken. Others had items like smart boards, but the teachers didn’t know how to use them. In other schools, the walls were bare, not even displaying students’ work.