The “changing times” in the United States include a steep rise in the rate of poverty. The same holds true in many other nations. Schools are experiencing large increases in students raised in poverty, students whose assessment scores are analyzed as a unique group or ‘sub cell.” When test scores are low among poorer students, they may be blamed for undermining the school’s reputation. Just as foolishly, these students may be excused for their lack of achievement by well intentioned teachers who offer them pity and low expectations rather than hope and encouragement. But poverty statistics and assessment numbers are only DATA. Data is NOT destiny. ITP requires us to seek the untapped potential in low income students and their families. There is no room for blame, excuses, or low expectations. Our mission is to provide care, respect, trust, optimism and intentionality to break the grip of poverty.In this session we will first examine the effects of poverty on students.Then we will show how the 5 Elements of Invitational Theory and Practice counteract those effects.
By American standards, a child is born into poverty every two minutes. That’s 2,573 babies every day. One in three poor people in the US is a chld, totalling 16.4 million children. (ASCD The Whole Child Newsletter May 2013)
Family structures (matriarchial), interpersonal relationships, time orientation, value systems, spending patterns and sense of community
Financial: money to buy goods and servicesEmotional: Able to control emotions without self destructive behaviors. Linked to stamina, perseverance and resilience.Mental: Has mental skills and abilities needed for everyday life (reading, computing, writing)Spiritual: Believes in a divine purpose and divine guidancePhysical: Healthy and mobileSuppport Systems: Has friends and family to access as backup in times of needRole models: Access to adults who are appropriate and nurturing who do not engage in self-destructive behaviorKnowledge of Hidden Rules: Knowing the unspoken cues and habits of a group.
Poverty is the extent to which an individual lacks resources. Typically, poverty is thought of only in terms of financial resources. But resources can also be Emotional (stamina, control, resilience), Mental (abilities like reading and math), Spiritual (belief in divine guidance), Physical (health), Support Systems (friends and family to access in times of need), Relationships/Role Models (“No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship” Dr. James Comer), Knowledge of Hidden Rules (unspoken cues and habits.)In situational poverty, people are likely to refuse ‘charity’ due to pride. They often have lots of other resources besides money. People in generational poverty tend to believe that society owes them a living..
The body easily adapts to short term stress (I have a test), but chronic and acute stress are more challenging. They can result in a carryover effect where the brain doesn’t moderate the stress reactions even when stressful situations decrease. It takes the brain about half an hour to recover from stress. Blood is rerouted to the brain stem for “fight or flight” and must be returned to the prefrontal cortex for full function, a process that takes about 30 minutes.
ACUTE: Abuse is a major stressor of children raised in poverty. Caregivers who are stressed about bills, housing and food are more likely to be grumpy and less likely to talk positively to their children. Caregivers’ disciplinary strategies grow harsher as income decreases. Poor children experience more physical neglect and sexual abuse. They often life in neighborhoods where violence and crime is more common.CHRONIC: In any given year poor more than 50% of low SES children deal with evictions.
Stressed brain neurons generate weaker signals, process less blood and oxygen, and develop fewer connections to other cells.
It is a response to their life conditions and begins as early as first grade. Adults have often failed them at home. Kids may assume adults at school will fail them too. Classroom misbehavior is likely because many kids don’t have the stability at home to learn the social-emotional responses needed for school. Students may be more impulsive, use inappropriate language and act disrespectul, until they are taught more appropriate responses.
Brains are hardwired for only six emotions: joy, anger, surprise, disgust, sadness and fear. All others must be taught. We must INTENTIONALLY teach the others.As teachers, we sometimes expect behaviors or results without telling students about them. But just telling about expected behaviors isn’t enough either. They must be taught. These behaviors may not be found in the Common Core Curriculum, but are often part of the “hidden curriculum.”
Trust is forged through daily exchanges between people. Trust is lost when an individual’s behavior is not consistent with their role and responsibility. Intentions matter (intentionality matters)
This means avoiding intentionally demeaning sarcasm, sharing decision making, offering choices, modeling adult thinking, and teaching crucial skills that show respect (eye contact, smile, shake hands…) Every students needs a reliable adult partner or mentor who respects them. (teacher or otherwise).
QUESTION: American men born July 9, 1951 have higher IQ’s and earn 7% more than men born July 7, 1951. How can that be? The US military draft for the Viet Nam war was based on a lottery. Men born July 9 were the first lottery # chosen. July 7 was the last #. Men born July 9 stayed in school longer to avoid the draft. Their IQ’s increased.Students who show little or no effort are giving feedback to the teacher. Hopeful kids work harder, persist longer, and ultimately get better grades. (Jensen p. 29, 113) Don’t use comforting phrases that imply a student isn’t good at something. Reinforce effort. Tell students to ”stick with this a little longer. You can do it. You brain is powerful.” Students need guidance to make smart strategy choices and to cultivate a positive attitude.IQ is DATA, not Destiny! Effort can be taught and strong teachers do this every day.
One study found that 49% of teachers consider higher order thinking inappropriate for their poor or low achieving students. Expect less. Get less. Lose hope. (Jensen)
Relationships and education help one move out of poverty, but leaving poverty may also mean giving up significant relationships for achievement. To move out of poverty, children need frequent access to a nurturing adult role model who does not engage in self-destructive behavior.Children with unstable home lives particularly need strong, positive adult role models. To show you care, you use their names, learn about their families, find out about their interests and hobbies…
Jensen wrote, change the school culture from pity to empathy. No more “bless their hearts, they can’t be expected to compete academically….behave…etc.” This leads to low expectations and self fulfilling prophecy. Students subjected to low expectations lose hope and see no viable future for themselves. Instead, establish a school culture where CARING is the norm, not giving up. Instead of watering down expectations for certain students or becoming overwhelmed by their steep barriers to learning, schools must join with families, community-based service providers, and other stakeholders to share research, data, idea generation and resources to provide a coordinated approach for meeting each student’s varying needs.” (ASCD CEO Gene Carter in For Each and Every Child)
As teachers, we sometimes expect behaviors or results without telling students about them. But just telling about expected behaviors isn’t enough either. They must be taught. These behaviors may not be found in the Common Core Curriculum, but are often part of the “hidden curriculum.”
SEE EXAMPLES OF RESPECT: Eye contact, handshake, smile, leaning forward
Power point from poverty to potential
From Poverty 2 Potential
Joan Fretz and Allyson Schoenlein
IAIE World Conference
KEY WORDS with
Low Socio-Economic Status
Poverty occurs in all countries
and among all races
Poverty is redefined from
culture to culture based on
A Framework for Understanding Poverty, 2005
The culture of poverty has
universal characteristics that
transcend rural-urban and even
national differences whether in
London, Paris, Harlem NY or
Four Horsemen, 1971
is the extent to which
an individual does
A Framework for Understanding Poverty, 2005
• Support Systems
• Role Models
• Knowledge of
Forms of Poverty
• Situational: Lack of resources due to
a particular event (death, divorce,
• Generational: Two or more
generations have lived in poverty
Students in poverty are more likely…
• To be retained in one or more grades
• To be assigned to lower tracks
• To be labeled as problem kids
• To be absent more often
• To earn lower scores on standardized tests
• To drop out of school without graduating
- John Biddle, 2001
The dropout rate for low-
income students is five times
greater than their high income
7.4% compared to 1.4%.
- National Dropout Prevention Center. 2013
Students living in poverty
are exposed to more stress
than their peers and to
more severe stress
Teaching with Poverty in Mind, 2009
Degrees of Stress
• ACUTE: an incident of trauma,
abuse or violence
• CHRONIC: continuous stress
(food shortages, lack of power or
water, moving frequently)
Stress is Toxic
• Links to 50% of student absences
• Impairs attention and concentration
• Reduces memory and creativity
• Inhibits growth of brain cells
• Reduces motivation and effort
Eric Jensen, 2009
With no control over many situations in
their lives, students in poverty become
passive even when they have the power to
overcome their circumstances.
They believe work is futile.
Eric Jensen, 2009
“There can be little doubt that an
untapped source of human intelligence and
creativity is found among the vast number
of individuals in the lower socio-economic
levels. The byproducts of this waste are
evident …in unemployment …in rising
crime, delinquency rates, and most
important, in human despair.”
University of Connecticut
leader in education of ‘gifted’
Assumption #3 of Invitational Theory and Practice
“People possess relatively
untapped potential in all
areas of human
William Purkey and John Novak
Invitational Theory and Practice taps
human potential with 5 elements
To earn trust, teachers must
… do the right thing
… in a respectful way
…for the right reasons.
Anthony Bryk and Barbara Schneider
Trust in Schools, 2002
We must give respect to students
even when they seem to least
deserve it. It is useless to
demand RESPECT from students
until they learn how to show it.
Effort and emotional
intelligence matter more
than IQ in predicting
James J. Heckman, 2006
Big Ideas for Children: Investing in our Nation’s Future
Brains can and do change.
HOPE changes brain chemistry.
It enhances brain metabolism.
Eric Jensen, 2009
PEOPLE matter most. 9 of
10 success stories point to
a relationship with a
Ruby Payne, 2005
Brains are hardwired for only six
emotions: joy, anger, surprise,
disgust, sadness and fear. All
others must be taught. We must
INTENTIONALLY teach the others.
Eric Jensen, 2009
If You Want IT, Teach IT!
Step 1: Tell kids what they need to know
Step 2: Model the behavior; demonstrate it
Step 3: Students practice the behavior until
the class shows 100% compliance
Step 3: Review the first three steps if needed
- APL Associates
The Most Important Thing
Some of the most important things to remember
about Poverty and Invitational Education (IE) are
But the MOST IMPORTANT THING to remember is
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