Grow: Your Understanding of Urban Schools


Date of Event: April 11, 2013.     Location: Genevieve Melody Elementary School

Essential Highlights:

Context of Chicago public schools:

  • Throughout the history of Chicago public schools reform, the pendulum has shifted between centralization and decentralization.

Changing Demographics

  • Increases in the Latino population account for more than half the growth in the total population of the United States between 2000 and 2010 (Stoelinga).
  • Chicago public schools reflect these same trends: since 1990 the number of Latino students has risen 10%.

Cultural Awareness

  • Recognize that cultural background influences everyone in the classroom. Be aware of your personal background and its affect on your interactions with others of the same or different cultural backgrounds.

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Summary of Event:

Chicago public schools have distinct differences depending on their geography, cultural diversity and politics. Understanding and navigating the urban school environment can be a real challenge if you are unfamiliar with these and other influences.

This training in the NAVIGATE training series provided Communities In Schools of Chicago (CISC) community partners with the opportunity to learn more about the contextual landscape of various Chicago public schools.  Community leaders Senior Director of the Urban Education Institute, Sara Ray Stoelinga, as well as Chicago public school veterans, Dr. Sherron Bibbie from Wescott Elementary and Tiffany Tillman of Melody Elementary facilitated this training.   Ms. Stoelinga provided an overview of the reform periods Chicago public schools have experienced, highlighting how the pendulum has shifted back and forth between centralization and decentralization.  She also discussed the rise in Latino students, the achievement gap, and how all these factors influence your work with students (See Stoelinga_communities in schools of chicago_041113).

In the breakout sessions, community partners had the opportunity to delve into a discussion centered on cultural competency.  Using Lisa Delpit’s book Other People’s Children as a spring board, partners reflected on how their own backgrounds affect their interactions with others in the classroom.  Focusing specifically on language use, participants discussed how having a deeper understanding of both ones own cultural background as well as the students’ backgrounds can improve communication within the classroom.  (See Reading Resources).

See what some of your fellow CISC community partners  had to say about the Grow Training:

  • “I learned so much and the networking with professionals in other fields was extremely helpful”
  • “More training and time! Summer institute sounds great. Still waiting to take the classroom management course.”

Materials from this training:


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