Teaching with Poverty: The Impact and Strategies

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Teaching with Poverty: The Impact and Strategies. By: Matt Bergman. About Me. @ mattbergman14. bergman-udl.blogspot.com/ learn-lead-grow.weebly.com/. Essential Questions for Today:. What is poverty? How does poverty impact our classrooms? - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Text of Teaching with Poverty: The Impact and Strategies

Barrier = Poverty

Teaching with Poverty: The Impact and StrategiesBy: Matt BergmanAbout Me@mattbergman14

bergman-udl.blogspot.com/learn-lead-grow.weebly.com/My name is Matt Bergman and I am a teacher, author, and speaker from the Milton Hershey School (Hershey, PA) and 100% of our population comes from poverty or some type of social need. 2Essential Questions for Today:What is poverty? How does poverty impact our classrooms?What strategies can we use to overcome the challenges of poverty in our classrooms?

% of Americans Living in PovertySource: US Census Bureau46.3 million AmericansWith over 46.3 million Americans living in poverty, it is an issue that impacts every single school and classroom in the country. 4We see the impacts of poverty in our classroomWe see the impacts of poverty each day in our classroom. 5But do we understand what poverty really is? Poverty is the extent to which an individual does without resources. - Ruby Payne SOURCE: Payne, R. (1996).A framework for understanding poverty. Highlands, TX: aha! Process, Inc.But do we really understand it? 6

We usually equate poverty to having limited financial resources7In the United States, the official poverty thresholds are set by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Persons with income less than that deemed sufficient to purchase basic needsfood, shelter, clothing, and other essentialsare designated as poor. In 2011, what was the poverty threshold of a family of 4? $23,018SOURCE: Jensen, E. (2009).Teaching with poverty in mind. United States: ASCD.http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/109074/chapters/Understanding-the-Nature-of-Poverty.aspx8

Source: US Census BureauCost of living varies based on geography. For example, someone who is classified as poor in New York City may not feel as poor as compared to someone in Appalachia. 9How Poverty OccursSOURCE: Jensen, E. (2009).Teaching with poverty in mind. United States: ASCD.Just like the extent of poverty varies based upon geographical location, the way that a family finds itself in poverty often varies.


Poverty can be situational a sudden crisis emerges (health issue, job loss, divorce). According to research, we know that many of our students living in poverty come from unstable situations.


Generational where 2 or more generations of a family are living in poverty. They are often not equipped with the tools to move out of this type of situation.


Absolute is rare in this country, but does occur in many parts of Appalachia. Families face the struggle of day to day survival, often struggling to find shelter, food, and running water.


Relative refers to the economic status of a family who meets the poverty thresholds set by the government.

14Urban Poverty

Urban poverty occurs in areas of 50k or more. Individuals facing urban poverty deal with stressors (violence, crowding, noise) and are often left to rely on often inadequate large-city services.

Many of our kids @ my school come from urban areas and struggle with a survival of the fittest mentality. They always feel like they are fighting for position or respect. This often comes from their family or living environment.15Rural

Source:William P. O'Hare,The Forgotten Fifth: Child Poverty in Rural America(2009).Rural poverty occurs in areas of less than 50k. Families experiencing rural poverty often do not have access to quality resources and support for disabilities.


Source:William P. O'Hare,The Forgotten Fifth: Child Poverty in Rural America(2009).This is one of the fastest growing areas of poverty in our country. In fact, there are more people living in rural poverty (15-20% of the population) than urban (10-15%). 17Barrier = PovertyMany of our students come from poverty, which we cannot control

We can control how we can help our students in our classroomsStrategies We Can Use to Overcome the Challenges of Poverty in our ClassroomsTip 1: Build Relationships"No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship."James Comer (1995)

James Comer was right when he said that no significant learning occurs without a significant relationship. It doesnt mean that we have to be buddies or friends with all of our students, but it does mean that we insist on high quality work and offer support.

Many of our At-risk learners who are facing poverty often lack long-lasting, stable relationships in their lives.

We often expect our kids to understand how to react and behave in certain situations. Many "discipline" issues sometimes emerge when teachers expect more than what students are currently capable of.

This may mean teaching our students how to act appropriately and talking about the behavior and how it impacts others.

20Tip 2: Create a Stable Environment

Creating a positive and stable environment means developing a classroom of respect. Ruby Payne, is an expert in the realm of working with students in poverty, and through her research found that students who felt respected by their teachers experienced the following situations:

The teacher calls me by my name.The teacher answers my questions.The teacher talks to me respectfully.The teacher notices me and says "Hi."The teacher helps me when I need help.

It all comes down to Maslows Hierarchywhere students need to feel safe in order to learn. This may mean that we need to rethink sarcasm and the way that joke with students. Because many of our students are oblivious to this and may feel its an attack rather than a joke. Immediately the survival of the fittest mentality begins. 21Tip 3: Encourage a Growth MindsetLowering expectations does not work!

Children who are raised in a poverty-stricken environment often need help developing a "growth mindset," which places importance on attitude, effort, and strategy. These qualities are what help our students become resilient and successful.

It doesnt mean that we lower our expectations of students, but it does mean that we have to meet them where they are at. In fact high expectations have been found to be a critical element in a students cognitive growth. 22Reading to your child is a critical element of cognitive development. 36%of low income parents read daily to their kindergarten aged child. SOURCE: Jensen, E. (2009).Teaching with poverty in mind. United States: ASCD.This is compared to 62% of upper-income children. 23Tip 4: Reading is the Key to Vocabulary Development

Reading is a critical element of not only a childs cognitive develop but also vocabulary development. Poverty and educational levels tend to correspond to one another. When it comes to vocabulary growth, many of our children living in poverty do not receive the same enrichment (usually @ home) as those not living in poverty. They may not have the resources or an adult who is available to do so. Many parents living in poverty had bad experiences with school and have passed this onto their children. 24The Matthew Effect

Keith StanovichIt comes down to the Matthew Effect, which is a term that was coined by psychologist Keith Stanovich. Extensive research on reading and language disabilities The "Matthew Effect" refers to the idea that in reading (as in other areas of life), the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. If a student has negative experiences with reading early on in their career, they are more likely to experience difficulty and avoid reading altogether25So how can we level the playing field when it comes to reading? I believe it begins with high expectations and creating an environment of growth.

We need to provide access to a variety of reading materials in our classroom. There was a study done outside of LA and they found that affluent and middle class students had significantly more access to reading materials than students in poverty (newspapers, books of varied reading levels, etc.). It may sound simple, but our students need opportunities to read in order to stimulate their brain. One school I know collects used or old newspapers from local businesses and families so that their students have access to reading materials.

We need to provide opportunities to read in school. One of the schools that I used to work for used the first 15 minutes of class (in a block schedule) each Friday for students to read. Teachers, administrators, and students would use this time to read whatever reading material they chose. And test scores dramatically improved!

Many of our students in poverty are intimidated by reading. They shut down when it is time to read. One student of mine would automatically start acting out when it came to reading. He was embarrassed that he couldnt understand the text. This really changed my perspective and so I began looking through the article and pre-teaching vocabulary before we read the article. I gave him the opportunity to listen to the reading assignment by copying and pasting text from a digital copy into Voki, while reading silently. Other teachers have used reading stations, where students can either read silently or go to another part of the room, where they can read aloud. By providing options during reading assignments, we could develop their reading ability.

We need to give students an opportunity to talk about what they have read by focusing on reading through what the University of Pennsylvania calls the social lens. This gives students an opportunity to connect with what they read with what they already know. 264 As Model: What assumptions does the author make? What do I agree with from the text?What do I argue with from the text?What do I want to aspire to from the text?

One model I follow is called the 4 As Model: It provides them with another way of connecting with material