Poverty and effective teaching how teachers can change the world
Poverty and Effective Teaching:
How Teachers Can Change the World
Literature Review – Early Intervention
The literature points to early
intervention as being the best. The
earlier the better. So schools need
to reach out to doctor’s and human
services offices to help with parent
education, and create an
environment that supports early
childhood development. Jensen
(2009) suggests the formation of
community partnerships that
develop knowledge in “nutrition,
parenting and study skill coaching
for children” (p. 73).
Literature Review - Culture
Fullan (2001) states that while “moral purpose is job
one, relationships are job two because you can’t get
anywhere without them” (p. 51). School administrators
need to manage the culture of a school. This is best
done by examining cultural competence of both
administration and staff. Understanding the needs of
the community and building on those needs to create a
positive and inclusive learning culture.
Literature Review - Teachers
For schools to close the achievement gap that exists
between students who are white and students who are
ethnically diverse, teachers must have dispositions that
humanize education. Murrell et al (2010) take from Nieto
that teachers should have “a passion for social justice” (p.
149). This “…goes to the heart of the role of the teacher in
society, the responsibility for ensuring equitable learning
opportunities for all students” (Murrell, et al., 2010, p. 11).
Frankly this is why many teachers and administrators work in
public education, we believe in the equity a public education
Addressing Children’s Needs
Children need people to believe
in their ability to overcome
adversity, prejudice and so-called
societal norms. Delpit (2012),
though she was speaking
specifically of African American
students, says children need
“warm demanders” teachers who
have high expectations of their
students, this is also true for any
child that lives in a culture of
poverty (p. 81).
Children’s Needs – Breaking the Cycle
Children must be taught that failure is not acceptable.
Children and adolescents need to have content that is
relevant to their interests and relates to their experience.
Boykin and Noguera (2011) stated that: “…incorporating a
child’s particular interests and background experiences in
the problem context should result in a greater focus on
relevant information, which in turn should enhance
Children’s Needs – Achievement Gap
In New Hampshire specifically
there appears to be a correlation
between the affluence of a
community and student results on
NECAP (NCLB) testing (see Figure
1). This can be seen by looking at
the percentage of enrolled
children who use the Free and
Reduced Lunch program and their
scores on the NECAP test .
Comparison of NECAP Results and Free and Reduced Lunch Eligibility
Grade 4 District
Grade 4 % F&RM
Math Gr. 4-2012-2013 % Proficient
Reading Gr. 4 2012-2013 % Proficient
Children’s Needs – Cultural Relevance
“…race, class and linguistic and
Ethnic Diversity by School District
cultural differences between
students and teachers do not
cause the achievement gap;
however, they do contribute to
its persistence and often
complicate efforts to reduce or
eliminate disparities in student
learning outcomes” (Boykin &
Noguera, 2011, p. 29). So
Native American/ Alaskan
schools and districts need to
look at how we are reaching and
teaching children with ethnic
and minority heritages.
Teacher Needs – Time
Delpit (2012) shares a
startling fact that emphasizes
the importance of good
teaching: “The students who
had good teachers
performed fifty percentile
points above those with
weaker teachers!” (p. 9).
Teacher Needs –
Structured Professional Learning
Sato, et al. (2008) found that there were three areas
that supported long term improvement in teacher
assessment practices, these are: structured
professional development, collegial interactions and
participation in reflective self-study (p. 693).
Structured time that supports teaching and learning is
essential to a successful and harmonious school
program. If you want something to last you need to
build it right.
Teacher Needs –
Penuel, et al. (2007) stated that: “Therefore,
professional development that incorporates time
for instructional planning, discussion, and
consideration of underlying principles of
curriculum may be more effective in supporting
implementation of innovations.” (p. 931).
As part of this structured professional learning,
teacher’s need time to work with their colleagues
and celebrate successes. Teachers who have
opportunities to write lesson plans together, talk
about what works and what doesn’t are the
teachers who are most likely to have good results
with their students.
Teacher Needs - Reflection
Murrell et al. (2010) stated that: “Teacher
educators who attend to the development of
knowledge, skills and dispositions can attest to
the mutual effect each has on the development of
the others” (p. 10). Teachers need time to reflect
on what they are learning, structured
professional learning that gives them
opportunities to stretch and innovate, and time to
look at where they have been and examine their
practice so they can get to where they want to
What Administrators Can Do Explain the Brain Research
Jensen (2009) states that: “Each stressor builds on and
exacerbates other stressors and slowly changes the
student. It is the cumulative effect of all the stressors
that often makes life miserable for the poor student”
(p. 29). Students will seek acceptance elsewhere if it is
not felt in school or from their family. Given (2002)
points to the rise in gangs and cults in areas of poverty
because gang leaders can play a paternal role for
children who feel isolated (p. 47). If we are going to
save impoverished students from the street, first we
have to study who they are and how they learn.
What Administrators Can Do –
Expect teachers to be transparent
when giving assignments, use
formative assessments to see what is
working in a class and what isn’t,
regularly check for understanding,
write often, use clear rubrics for
grading and make sure students
know what to expect regarding
grading (Delpit, 2012, p. 141-142).
And insist that the work is relevant to
student culture and experience.
What Administrators Can Do –
Check For Cultural Competence
Teachers need to have ownership of
their learning. “Development of shared
purposes and the means to achieve
them cannot be mandated externally”
(Murrell et al, 2010, p. 201). Though
administration can give them materials
and point them in a direction to reach
understanding, it is beneficial for
teachers to have time with their
colleagues to figure out the best way
for information and techniques to be
implemented in the classroom.
What Administrators Can DoProvide Structured Professional Learning
Create schedules that allow for
common planning time. Structure that
time to include professional learning
and expect evidence of improved
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