CoE2 (St. Louis)

Friday, April 7
College of Education 2 (CoE 2) arrived in St. Louis at Confluence Academy- Old North around 1 o'clock on Friday afternoon. We were given the opportunity to jump into some of the classrooms and interact with the students and teachers. After being in the classrooms for a couple of hours, it was time for dismissal. We then met up in the reading specialist's room and talked about our time in the classroom and any observations we made. Their school is going through a transition phase right now, and the teachers asked us for our advice on what might work in certain situations, saying that we were more up to date on ideas and techniques for classroom management and things of that sort. I thought this was so awesome because we were there to learn from "the professionals," but they also treated us like we were the professionals and wanted to learn from us.
            I have had the opportunity of coming to Confluence Academy on a Mizzou Alternative Breaks (MAB) trip for the past two years, leading me to lead one for myself. Honestly, this is one of the best experiences because I am able to see how the school is changing and adapting each year to meet the needs of their students. The reading specialist was so passionate about the changes being made at their school and was sharing with us the successes, and few failures, that they have had to lead them to make these changes. It was so eye opening to see how a little bit of passion can go a long way in the field of education.
            After visiting the school, finding our housing location, and grocery shopping for the weekend we went out to eat. We ate at a restaurant called Club Taco. This restaurant specializes in unique tacos. For instance, I had a Deep South taco that had fried chicken, mashed potatoes and corn in it. Other girls ordered the Momma's Meatloaf tacos and a few other different kinds. But the best thing about this dinner is that we made the rule to "Unplug" and not be on phones the whole time. This was such a good rule, not only is it an MAB principle, but because we actually had the chance to talk with each other and learn about each other that has made our bond a lot stronger.

            Another instance that brought us closer together was our Friday night reflection. We originally hadn't planned anything too big since it was our first day and we had only been there for a couple of hours. But an hour and fifteen minutes later we realized that it was like 10:45 and we should probably be heading to bed to prepare ourselves for an early(ish, okay like leaving for our service site at like 8:15) start we will be having the next day.
            During our reflection, we really only talked about two different questions. 1) What was one positive observation you made in the classroom today? 2) What will you "bring home" or to your future classrooms? We got so in depth talking about these questions and listening to the experiences that one another had and learning from them that the conversation really just flowed constantly.
            As future educators (plus one Hospitality major), I think we all learned a few valuable lessons in just the short time we were in the classrooms. One was that all of us have our own biases, and they aren't exactly what we thought they were. But the great thing is that we really talked them out as a group, and I feel like we came to conclusions for most of them about why these biases aren't always true and that we are taking the steps and "poco a poco" moving in the right direction. The other big lesson that a few of us learned was what we don't want to be like as teachers. And this isn't necessarily a bad thing, we just observed new teaching styles that we hadn't witnessed yet and noted that we didn't think it would work for us. This is a huge lesson because sometimes it's easier to figure out what you don't want to be like than it is to make a decision on what you do want to be like.
            Over all, the first day of our trip was a success. And we can't wait to see what the rest of the weekend holds for us!

College of Education 2
(Comet-ed to Serving)

Saturday, April 8

            We arrived at our service site (Confluence Academy- Old North) at 9:16 A.M. sharp.. One minute behind when we were supposed to arrive because we had to stop at Dunkin Donuts for coffee. Trust me, coffee is a necessity for all education majors and we didn't want anyone to have to deal with us before we had gotten our coffee fix.
            After arriving Dr. Kennedy, who is acting as Interim Principal at the moment, sat down with us and had us introduce ourselves and tell him a little bit about each of us. Then he opened it up to questions. Seeing as he is in an administrator position in an urban school, we jumped at the opportunity to ask him any and every question that came to our minds. He was very insightful and helpful. I'd say we learned a great deal about working in an urban school from him, which, for one of us, is what we see ourselves doing in the future.

            Once we finished breakfast and our chat we headed out to clean up trash around the school and the local park. As we were doing this we had several members of the neighborhood come up to us and tell us how appreciative they were that we were helping take care of their community. Interacting with community members and showing them that we care about their community as well was awesome to hear. Unfortunately, this was the end of our service at Confluence Academy as the original project they had for us was no longer available to us and this was all they could come up with for us to do.
            After searching high and low for a new service for us to do, our search came up short with most of the places not being open on the weekends or looking for more permanent volunteers. On the bright side, we took this opportunity to head to the zoo a little earlier than we had originally planned.
            Originally, we had planned to keep our zoo activity a surprise for our participants, but they are great guessers and I can't keep a secret that well. Thankfully everyone on our trip was just as excited as we were to be going to the zoo for an activity. We had a blast at the zoo. Not only was the weather amazing, but that meant that pretty much all of the animals were out for us to see. This was great bonding time for all of us because we were able to talk about our favorite animals and different zoo trips (or places) we have been to.

            Unfortunately, because we couldn't find service for tomorrow we decided to go ahead and head home tonight. We had planned to do our reflection on the way home but between sleep participants and the thought that you couldn't see everyone face to face (at least for the driver) we decided to just wait until we got back. We had already decided to cook dinner together at one of the site leader's apartments. So, we just ate dinner (it was pretty delicious spaghetti with cheesy, garlic bread if I do say so myself) and had our reflection afterward.
            During this reflection, we just talked about how the service impacted us and how the overall trip was. We talked about how nice it was to hear from the community members that they appreciated the work we were doing, since we were really doing it for the school. But since it impacts them as well, that was awesome. For both site leaders, this was our second (and third) MAB trip to this exact service site. So, we were able to share previous knowledge with our participants of changes (both good and bad, but mostly good) that we had seen out of the school. As for our participants, one (maybe two) had previously been on MAB trips. We asked them how it compared and differed from their previous trips. One of our participants said that she enjoyed this trip more, just because she had the opportunity to interact with students at the school and things (P.S. She is our known College of Education major.) As for our other two participants, this was their first trip. We got great feedback from them about how great the trip was (even with the minor setbacks, thank goodness for Being Gumby!)
            Overall, this trip was great! I feel like having a smaller group (we had six girls total) made this experience so much more meaningful to me because of the relationships I was able to build with these girls and the bond that we were able to create with each other was unbeatable. We are already planning a few more get togethers before the semester ends because of the relationships we were able to build. I'm so thankful that MAB brought these girls into my life!

College of Education 2
(Comet-ed to Serving)

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