Adapting to an Urban Setting

MelissaMy name is Melissa Walters and I’m a senior in the College of Education.  I will be graduating from the Dual Education program in May of 2013 with degrees in both general and special education for students in first through eighth grades. After spending four years in the Fox Valley, I’ve decided to do my final semester and student teaching closer to home in the Milwaukee Public Schools. Since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a teacher. While growing up, I spent a lot of summers with my aunt who has been a teacher for many years. She was someone to whom I always looked up to and wanted to imitate.  That led me, eventually, to a preview day for the Department of Special Education at UW-O.  From then on, I knew I wanted to be prepare to teach all learners and that Oshkosh would be the best place to help me reach that goal.

Having grown up in the Milwaukee area, I knew that I would want to return there after college.  This desire led me to a program called the Institute of Urban Education, IUE.  Through this program, I was connected with a cohort of other students from other UW schools and supervisors familiar with the urban setting.  I will be in two different placements throughout the 18 week session.  The first is at Oliver Wendell Holmes Elementary in a resource room for students in fourth and fifth grades. The second placement is at Bethune Academy in a general education, second grade classroom. While teaching in both placements I will also attend weekly seminars with the other members of my cohort and supervisors and instructors from the Institute. Looking forward to my placements, I am both excited and nervous.  I am excited to be in the classroom after a long break from school.  I strongly agree that educators should be lifelong learners so being outside of structured learning was difficult for me.  Being back in the classroom both as a teacher and a learner is the place where I feel I reach my prime. The anxiety arises in the environment that I am entering.  Until this point I have only ever taught in the Fox Valley.  Part of my entrance into the IUE was to research and write a report on MPS as a district.  This first shone a light on the vast differences between Oshkosh/Fond Du Lac and Milwaukee. Not only are there racial and cultural differences, but there are also major differences in socioeconomic statuses.  These are all things that I will need to recognize not only as a person but also as an educator.  As the beginning of my student teaching approaches, I have an open mind and an open heart, both ready to embrace every opportunity that I encounter.

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