Poverty In Education: Prevalence
Poverty In Education: The Brain
Poverty in Education: 6 Strategies to Help Students from Poverty Succeed
In the previous post, I shared with you things that you can do as a teacher RIGHT NOW in your classroom to help your students from poverty succeed. Teachers are miracle workers, who create life-changing moments on a daily basis without enough time, materials, or energy. Teachers just seem to find a way when the odds are stacked against them. But sometimes, we play the blame game. This student can’t read at grade-level, this student can’t pay attention, that student has no patience - “I can’t change that!”. I challenge you, in that moment, to repeat this mantra: “If they don’t have it, it is my JOB to teach it.” (You might even say it is your moral imperative to teach it.) This includes socio-emotional skills. We must model patience, cooperation, positivity, and respect if we want our students to demonstrate those skills.
But we also need the support of everyone around us - it is difficult to create a culture of hope in just one classroom. Leadership and administration need to encourage system wide changes within a school to make the biggest impact. According to Eric Jensen in Teaching with Poverty in Mind , there are five factors to consider as you form school-wide policies, action plans, and beliefs.
As we learned in my previous post on the effects poverty can have on the brain, low-SES students are constantly dealing with stress. They don’t always have the energy or patience to focus on school when their lives outside of it are difficult. Ease that burden by providing students with as much support as possible, even outside of academics.
- Survey student needs and find a way to provide these support services
- Include parents and try to provide on-site programs in areas of need
- Develop community partnerships - tutoring, health services, etc.
Most teachers have accepted the importance of using data in the classroom. But data should also be used to measure the effectiveness of your outreach programs and school climate initiatives.
- Determine your area of need and decide how to collect data
- Once data is collected, analyze for areas of strength and weakness
- Implement a plan to address weaknesses
- Reevaluate and collect new data to assess plan
Students, teachers, the community, everyone with a stake in the education game in your community needs to be accountable for their role in students’ success.
- Increase teachers’ control and authority
- Value teachers
- Redesign staffing roles to include more collaboration
Students need secure attachments and connections with caring, positive adults.
- Model good relationships by having strong feelings of respect amongst staff.
- Build relationships between students.
- Build student-staff relationships by being consistent, respectful, and positive. Do not demean students when you discipline them.
Students from Low-SES backgrounds are often lacking in enrichment activities outside of school. Try to offer them as many opportunities to build knowledge about the world around them through non-academic experiences.
- Have nature as a presence within the school grounds - a garden, plants in the classrooms, etc.
- Teachers should make sure students are engaged as much as possible with the content
- Provide extended school days or years
Remember, despite the negative effects poverty can have on the brain, there are concrete strategies you can implement in your school or classroom to turn the tide in the right direction. “Because the brain is designed to adapt from experience, it can also change for the better. In other words, poor children can experience emotional, social, and academic success .
No longer should our schools be mere perpetrators of social standing. Education should be the greatest opportunity for all students.