I'm not sure what to expect from our visit. I didn't know until last class that the school was an exam school. When I heard this, I felt an unexpected internal change of attitude toward the school - as though I changed my opinion of what I would expect the school to be. This strong emotion shocked me. Based on previous experiences with exam schools in urban areas (Boston), they tend to be the "better schools" within urban districts. Therefore, when hearing that it was an exam school, I immediately assumed that it would be less of a decrepit and "demoralized" urban school that our readings have discussed and that I have witnessed. Regardless of whether or not exam schools are always the "better schools" in urban districts, I'm surprised that my expectations changed so instantaneously upon learning that it wasn't an 'everyday' urban public school.
I'm sure that it's being an exam school will have some effect on the atmosphere, but I'm not entirely sure how that effect will manifest itself. Will it be more competitive? Will it reflect the overall racial and socioeconomic distribution in Philadelphia, or will it be somehow disproportionate? Based on the experiences I have had with exam schools, I think it will be filled with students whose parents place a high value on education. I also expect the students to be smart and motivated to learn. I'm looking forward to talking to students, and I'm hoping that they won't view our visit as an intrusion, but instead as a chance for us to learn from each other. In short: I'm excited for our visit!