Spotlight on Megan-Over the Rhine Residency Program

Congratulations to Danielle Linowes, Jessie Davidson from Teacher Education and Megan Krach from Educational Psychology, who completed the fall 2015 Over-the-Rhine Residency Project as a part of their as part of their student teaching. These student teachers worked at two different schools: Rothenberg Preparatory Academy and Oyler Community School. All did their student-teaching as part of the Urban Teacher Cohort Program at Miami University, directed by Tammy Schwartz of College of Education, Health, and Society (EHS). Kim Wachenheim, also of EHS was the students’ teaching supervisor.

From Thomas Dutton, Director of the Miami University Center for Community Engagement in Over the Rhine:

“Offered through the University’s Center for Community Engagement in Over-the-Rhine, students from many walks of life moved to Over-the-Rhine for a full semester, living together, taking courses, engaging in reflection, and serving deep community need with neighborhood organizations, residents, and organizers… a primary goal is for students and community members, through the relationships and trust they build, to come to see the humanity beneath the narratives that circulate about Over-the-Rhine. Too often these narratives dehumanize; we come together to develop empathy.”

Today we spotlight a reflection from Megan Krach from the Educational Psychology Department:

“For the Residency Program I was a student teacher in a fifth and sixth grade intervention setting. Coming into the Program, I had some expectations of how my student-teaching and time in Over-the-Rhine would be like. To my surprise, my experience in this Program was somewhat different than I expected—in good and not-so-good ways. I was challenged more than I ever thought I could be challenged. My mind and body were more tired than I thought they could ever be. But as I learned, this experience was not just about how much I was challenged and how tired I was—it is about the people who I met who have changed my life forever.

At the beginning of my journey, I was overwhelmed. Typically, I am an introverted person, especially in new places with new people. Here, I was thrown together with sixteen other Miami students, numerous students and teachers from school, and people in general just living so close by. Despite the chaos of it all, I have found to love the sense of community I feel down here. Whether it is from daily talks with Mr. Earl, seeing the various Streetvibes vendors throughout the week, or deep talks with strangers passing by, I have never felt such a strong sense of community. Speaking of Mr. Earl, he has to be one of the best neighbors I have ever had. He is always willing to engage in a conversation and I know that he is always looking out for the Miami students and all the other community members that live nearby. He has taught me that it is worth it to take time from our busy days and engage in meaningful conversations with other people. We are all busy and we all have things to do, but it is necessary to take time to talk to people because you never know what you may learn from a five-minute conversation with your neighbor or somebody walking by.

My placement at the school had the biggest impact on me this semester. Through student-teaching and tutoring after school, I spent an average of over 40 hours a week at school. My time working with students has definitely fostered the most learning. Through the Urban Teaching Cohort, I have been preparing to work in an urban school setting for two years by taking classes and through various service experiences. Despite all the preparation, I quickly figured out that I had much more to learn. At the school I taught at, virtually all the students are considered economically disadvantaged, which definitely has a large impact on learning. To fully express this point, I am going to share an experience from the beginning of the semester.

For the first quarter, the theme of English Language Arts was adversity. For one of the lessons I taught, I had the students start off with a quick write. The prompt was, “Describe a time you had to overcome something in your life.” The students quickly became reluctant to write. I gave personal examples and tried helping students generate ideas. The more time we spent on this, the more I realized that my students have had to overcome so much more than I have ever had to overcome in my own life. For example, one of the students shared with me that her cousin got shot last year and she found out by seeing a picture of her cousin on the news. The five minute quick-write, turned into a whole class lesson, with me learning the most of anyone. At that moment, all the preparation for this semester had come together. I realized that it is much different to talk about poverty, homelessness, violence, and inequality in a classroom than to see it personally. Once I was able to put faces to the social injustices I have been learning about in my classes, it had a must larger impact than I could have ever imagined. I have never experienced moments like I have this semester that have shaken me down to my core and I know it has changed me for the better.
As the semester comes to an end, I am reluctant to leave. I had my ups and downs, but overall, I experienced the most learning this semester than any other time in my life. I am going to miss seeing my students every day. They have taught me more than they will ever know and I have never loved and cared for a group of students as much as my students this semester. Although I was the teacher and my students are supposed to be learning from me, I know that I have learned so much more from my students than they could have ever learned from me. I have discovered who I am and who I want to become as a person and a teacher. I am going to miss the strong sense of community here. I know it is going to be hard to find a place that compares to Over-the-Rhine.”For more information about our Special Education Program please visit:
http://miamioh.edu/ehs/academics/departments/edp/academics/major-special-ed/index.html
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