Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Our Kids and Poverty

Like many districts, our community is feeling the effects of a poor economy and a struggling job market. Our district is over 33% free and reduced for the first time in recent memory. Because this provides our teachers with another obstacle, the district felt it prudent to provide some training in the area of poverty. Ms. Lynda Byrd performed a presentation based on the work of Ruby Payne to CUSD #424 on August 17th.

Back when I was coaching, I would often go to conferences on the sport I was coaching. My goal was always to pick up one or two things that really resonated with me and that I could use. The same approach applies with academic trainings. Some highlights:

Students in poverty situations often have hidden rules to which they adhere.
  • An example of this is "the mama rule," in which students are often told something is ok by a parent, but would not be considered ok by school standards. For instance, a parent may tell their child to stand up for themselves and use force if necessary, as this is sometimes the only way to survive in a poverty situation. At school, however, we discourage this.
  • Hidden rules are often related to survival. Students in poverty are often only concerned with survival. The only tense they are interested in is the present tense. The future often means nothing to them.
Language issues often form obstacles for students of poverty.
  • Many teachers speak in formal structure, with thousands upon thousands of possible word choices. Students of poverty, however, often speak in casual structure, with far less word choice available. When students ask to have things re-explained, we sometimes assume they weren't listening when, in fact, it very well may be that they didn't understand the words we used.
  • Because there are deficiencies in language for these students, it's possible they haven't learned how to form questions. When we wonder why students who are struggling didn't ask questions or didn't ask for help, it is quite possible they don't have the skills to formulate questions.
Mental Modules help students understand and comprehend material.
  • Have students draw or sketch vocab words. If they can't draw it, they don't get it.
  • Use analogies and metaphors. Have students use these when telling stories.
For your listening pleasure, go back to the 60s and enjoy Kansas City by Wilbert Harrison, Peggy Sue by Buddy Holly, Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis Presley and Runaround Sue by Dion.

Players who have spent major time on the DL for the Red Sox this year: Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkalis, Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez, Jason Varitek, Josh Beckett, Mike Cameron and Clay Bucholz. And yet we are still hanging on with a glimmer of hope. It does not look good for the beantown boys though.

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