Jenny Kraft’s 5th grade classroom at Whittier International Elementary School - 2 hours

Orientation with Courtney Flug at Resource as part of introduction to Spectrum ArtWorks - 1.5 hours

Jenny Kraft’s 5th grade classroom at Whittier International Elementary School - 2 hours

My first time visiting Resource was for an orientation regarding some expectations of volunteers and a history of the organization. It was a wonderful and educational experience thanks to the brilliance of Courtney Flug, who was eager to answer our questions and provide all the insight at her disposal. I won’t be meeting with Jes until later in the Spring, but it was great to have more familiarity with a such a vital part of the Minneapolis community.

My two days at Whittier were largely devoted to observing and assisting the students with the assessment part of their curriculum unit that focuses on the relationship of the individual identity to the identity of a larger community. Ms. Kraft uses the time they have dedicated to this unit to reinforce their sense of responsibility. She is able to honestly discuss issues at Whittier and conduct discussions of how student and parent behavior can impact the environment of the school. The students are also frequently reminded that they are role models and that role models are expected to act and lead in a certain way. Much of Ms. Krafts sense of discipline is structured not around the idea that certain behaviors are bad, but that certain behaviors negatively impact others. Students are constantly reminded that their words and actions have an effect, and they can use this to make positive change.

Thus, the students are coming up with plans to improve their school. They have been divided into groups focusing on different problems (behavior in the hallway, bathroom, classroom etc.) and are doing their very best to make actionable plans to carry out throughout the rest of the year. The group I sat with had a difficult time coming to any form of consensus. I find that some students lack the self awareness to comprehend that their big personalities inhibit other students participation, but I don’t yet know how to address this in the right way.

I was also able to observe the students at gym this week. Transitions seem to be rough, but their teacher managed to corral them into doing warm up exercise for basketball games. The students are already self conscious about how their lack of talent on sports may make them look “uncool” and attempt to seem aloof and beyond the practice of physical activity to maintain their “cool” persona. Interestingly, no one else seems to really notice or mind whether or not someone is good at basketball.