Thoughts On Different Learning Environments

Sean Stewart

If there is one thing that has stood out to me during my time juggling the responsibilities of student teaching and working with ACH Clear Pathways, it is that the environment in which children are expected to learn is of the utmost importance. I get to work within two very unique and very different environments. Each of them is conducive to the type of learning that occurs there. 

For this post, I wanted to compare observations I have made about each different environment and reflect on how their differences work to aid the mission they have set out to accomplish. First up: Central Catholic High School.

Located on Fifth Avenue, near Carnegie Mellon’s campus, Central Catholic High School has been providing education to the young men of Pittsburgh since 1927. From 7:45 to 2:40, its halls are filled with the sounds of teenagers and educators alike. I have been student teaching at Central for a little over a month now and have made a few observations in regard to the learning environment that may contribute to the school’s success. First, the use of one to one technology in the classroom provides a multitude of opportunities for teachers to bring learning to new frontiers. Also, the collaboration between teachers demonstrates a commitment to students and a drive to improve in their field. Both of these observations, in addition to the relatively small class size, show me that Central is committed to providing an environment that supports and enriches its students throughout their high school career.

Moving two and a half miles further into the city, ACH Clear Pathways operates within their newly purchased building. It is important to note that Clear Pathways is an after-school program that runs until 6 pm. During this time period, kids of all ages are enriched with additional academic and artistic support. The very first observation one makes when walking in to the building is the welcoming atmosphere. The staff is all extremely friendly and their smaller size means the group is very tight-knit. The walls are almost entirely covered in student work, and the sections that aren’t are full of pictures from field trips and colorful affirmations. The main difference between Clear Pathways and Central is the age demographic. Central definitely skews older, which explains much of their learning environment. However, at Clear Pathways, everything is catered toward younger, more developing minds. The curriculum and support from the staff are all to make sure that the growing minds are supported artistic ways.

Overall, I believe that both learning institutions succeed with what they set out to accomplish. Central provides a comprehensive high school education, and ACH Clear Pathways provides the supplemental education and support of young students. I feel very lucky to be able to be involved in both because the service that they provide is indispensable.

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