saturday school clinic for preparing urban teachers
Most educators have heard the term "cultural competence"- but have never received adequate preparation to appropriately respond to the challenges of a diverse classroom.
How do teachers become more aware of their own cultural identities and build upon new knowledge about "others" and learn skills to improve their communications and interactions with urban students, parents, and colleagues?
The Saturday School Program began in Fall 2007 and has run each semester at the downtown Rochester Public Library on South Avenue. The aim of the Saturday School program is to provide academic follow-up for our Rochester cohort of 60 students who enroll in our two week residential summer camp called Rochester Young Scholars Academy at Geneseo (RYSAG). The evolution of the Saturday School Program has created a “Geneseo in the City” community. Most Saturdays during the academic year, a cadre of Geneseo College students travels to the Rochester Public Library to befriend and encourage the academic and personal growth of Rochester youth involved in RYSAG. We strive to create authentic relationship with students outside of school in our related academic settings. The goals for our Saturday School Program are to promote independent and critical thinking skills and help kids graduate from high school and enroll in college; another goal is to train and orient pre-service teachers towards an urban centered culturally relevant school curriculum.
Through the Saturday School Clinic and weekly seminar, students approach urban education with a clinical and reflective practice. Each week throughout the Fall and Spring semester between 15-20 Geneseo students travel to Rochester Public Library where they practice the craft of teaching 25-40 middle school and high school students from the Rochester City School District while supervised by a certified NYS teacher with experience in preparing teachers to persue careers in the urban school districts. Teachers matriculating through the Saturday School program currently teach in the Rochester City School District Charter Schools, Bi-lingual elementary schools, as well as in the Bronx for the NYC school district and also have contracts for Teach for America in the Missisipi Delta region and the Minnesota area.
Skills that are learned by Geneseo students in Saturday School and Reflective seminar:
- Builds relationships with students as people, know students well academically, socially, and emotionally
- Demonstrates a visible connectedness with each student
- Immersed into the students' culture
- Provides a supportive classroom structure for academic, social and emotional success
- Supports a socially equitable environment for students; helps students develop their "socio-political awareness"
- Provides necessary routines that help students become learners and feel safe in the classroom
- Promotes the intellectual leadership of students who are educationally, economically, socially, politiclly and culturally disenfranchised
- Mentors students into a learning community that includes a "going to college" culture
- Projects high academic standards and expectations for all students
- Legitimates students' real life experiences by building those experiences into the curriculum
- Helps students make connections between their community, national and golobal identities
- Views knowledge critically; develops students' "habits of mind" to enable them to take a critical stance on their learning
- Helps students develop skills to participate fully in the construction of knowledge
- Treats students as competent and developing
- Is calm and non-reactive, but firm, fair, and consistent
- Aware of the possibility of internalized racism and resulting low-expectations
- Participates in a equity centered reflective learning community and committed to ongoing growth and development in these areas