Click picture of the book below to go to the ASCD executive summary of this book.  My thoughts, bright spots, key ideas are listed below.  Some of these excerpts are copied from the ASCD summary but most are quotes from the book I found illuminating.

Chapter 1 – Understanding the Nature of Poverty

Types of Poverty (pg. 6)

  1. Situational poverty is generally caused by a sudden crisis or loss and is often temporary. Events causing situational poverty include environmental disasters, divorce, or severe health problems.
  2. Generational poverty occurs in families where at least two generations have been born into poverty. Families in this type of poverty aren’t equipped with tools to move out of their situations.
  3. Absolute poverty, which is rare in the US, involves a scarcity of such necessities as shelter, running water, and food. Families who live in absolute poverty tend to focus on day-to-day survival.
  4. Relative poverty refers to the economic status of a family whose income is insufficient to meet its society’s avg standard of living.
  5. Urban poverty occurs in metropolitan areas with populations of at least 50,000 people. The urban poor deal with a complex aggregate of chronic and acute stressors (including crowding, violence, and noise) and are dependent on often-inadequate large-city services.
  6. Rural poverty occurs in nonmetropolitan areas with populations below 50,000. In rural areas, there are more single-guardian households, and families often have less access to services, support for disabilities, and quality education opportunities.

Effects of Poverty (EACH) (pg 7)

  • Emotional and social challenges
  • Acute and chronic stressors
  • Cognitive lags
  • Health and safety issues

“Absenteeism is the factor most closely corelated with dropout rates.  Schools can help turn children’s lives around, but only if they show up.” (pg 10)

Action Steps:

  • Deepen staff understandings
  • Change school culture from pity to empathy

Chapter 2 – How Poverty Affects Behavior and Academic Performance

“When children gain a sense of mastery of their environments, they are more likely to develop feelings of self-worth, confidence and independence.” (pg 17)

Awesome Insight:  “It is much easier to condemn a student’s behavior and demand that he or she change it that it is to help the student change it. Every proper response that you don’t see your at your school is one that you need to be teaching… reframe your thinking: expect students to be impulsive, to blurt inappropriate language, and to act ‘disrespectful’ until you teach them stronger social and emotional skills and until the social conditions at your school make it attractive not to do those things.” (pg 19)

Forces that Drive Student Behavior:

  • Drive for reliable relationships
  • Strengthening of peer socialization
  • Quest for importance and social status

Action Steps for the Behaviors:

1. Embody Respect

  • Give respect to students first, even when they seem least to deserve it
  • Share decision making in class
  • Avoid directives… offer choice
  • Avoid sarcasm
  • Model adult thinking
  • Keep voice calm
  • Discipline through positive relationships

2. Embed Social Skills

  • Teach meet and greet skills
  • Embed turn taking skills
  • Remind student to thank classmates

3. Be Inclusive

  • Always refer to school as “our” school
  • Acknowledge the small things
  • Celebrate effort and achievement

50% of all absences are linked to chronic stress… so poor kids are more stressed and therefore miss more school.  Not good!

Action Steps for Dealing with the Stress:

  • Recognize signs
  • Alter the environment
  • Empower students

Action Steps for Improving Performance:

  • Build core skills (see list on pg 39)
  • Pinpoint assessments
  • Provide hope and support
  • Recruit & train the best staff

Action Steps for Health & Safety:

  • Increase health related services
  • Develop enrichment counterattack

Chapter 3: Embracing the Mindset of Change

“The reason things stay the same is because we stay the same.” For things to change, we must change.” (pg. 46)

“Brains are designed to change. Some changes are gradual, like those resulting from learning a new language, while others are instant, like those resulting from an “aha” moment.” (pg 47)Interesting Fact: Research has proven that video games enhance players’ attention.

IQ Determining Factors:

  • Home environment and living conditions
  • Early experiences and education intervention
  • Amount and duration of schooling
  • Quality of nutrition

Changing IQ: Foster fluid intelligence – students’ ability to rapidly adjust their strategies and thought processes from one context to another. (This would seem to fit really well with the 21st Century Skills movement)
• Fluid Intelligence is a context-independent, highly transferable skill!
• We must teach fluid intelligence

“Kids raised in poverty need more than just content, they need capacity.” (pg 54)

Key Skills to Teach Low SES Kids:

  • deferring gratification
  • sustained effort
  • processing skills
  • attentional skills (the ability to engage, focus, disengage)
  • short & working memory capacity
  • Sequencing skills (order in the processing)
  • confidence
  • champion mindset

Activities at Facilitate Brain Growth:

  • Physical Activity
  • Playing Chess
  • Engaging in the Arts
  • Computer Aided Task completion
  • Music training

Metacognitive Awareness: Knowing why, knowing self, knowing differences, knowing process & revisiting

Action Steps for Chapter 3:

  • Change staff members’ mind-sets
  • Invest in staff
  • Support ongoing collaboration (PLC’s)
  • Encourage staff dialogue
  • Gather quality data
  • Avoid extremes
  • Deep Implementation (not in book, but connection to Reeves is clear)

“Change yourself first.” (pg. 65)

Chapter 4 – School Wide Success Factors

S – Support the Whole Child
H – Hard Data
A – Accountability
R – Relationship Building
E – Enrichment Mind-Set

S – Support the Whole Child
“The high expectations policy makes sense only if your students are buttressed by high support.” (pg 69)
Actions Steps:
    • Survey your student needs
• Include parents and provide adult support and outreach
• Develop community partnerships

H – Hard Data
“Good teaching is not magic, and it is not based soley on intuition.”
Action Steps:
    • Develop criteria for the data you need (Survey the following questions)
– Both generally and specifically, how are we doing?
– To what degree are we serving the needs of all students?
– What are we good at, and where do we need help?
• Gather only the data you need
– SCARF – specific, continuous, accurate, relevant and fast
• Analyze and share the data
• Develop plans to share the data

A – Accountability
“Ultimately teachers have to buy into the process, commit to teaching “smarter”, and learn to adjust their practice on the fly to reach collective goals.”
Action Steps:
    • Increase teacher’s control and authority
• Value your teachers
• Redesign staffing roles

R – Relationship Building
Mentoring relationship can be a great foundation for school improvement
Action Steps:
    • Build relationships among staff
• Build relationships among students
• Build student-staff relationships
– avoid raising voice unless it is emergency
– do what you say you are going to do
– acknowledge a change
– never demand… Always say please and thank you
– Own your mistakes
– be consistent and fair to all (show no favoritism)
– Offer all the support you can
– look for positive reinforcement opportunities
– show care more than you show authority

E – Enrichment Mind-Set
“Stop thinking remediation and start thinking enrichment.” (pg 94)
Action Steps:
    • Create a strong environmental message (own your space with vigilance)
• Create staff wide enrichment mind-set (enrich like crazy)
• Always look for one more enriching edge.

Seven Acheivement Killers:
1) Overdoing the pep talk and hot air – avoid the rah rah speeches
2) Planning endlessly – generate, share & agree in 30 days or plan is too complicated
3) Putting kids first and staff last – staff must get on board (bright spot focus)
4) Creating a climate of fear – give staff leeway to try stuff, teaching well is tough
5) Measuring improvement soley through test scores
6) Treating the symptoms not the causes
7) Counting on big wins quickly

Chapter 5: Classroom-Level Success Factors

Key Question a teacher must ask themselves, “Do I have what it takes to succeed at working with kids from poverty?” (pg 106)

Key Point: “It’s not how much you do, it’s what you do.” (pg 107) This reminds me. Of Doug Reeves push for deep implementation in what ever it is we choose to do!

S – Standards-Based Curriculum and Instruction
H – Hope Building
A – Arts, Athletics, Advanced Placement
R – Retooling of the Operating System
E – Engaging Instruction

S – Standards-Based Curriculum and Instruction
Interim assessments (CFAs & Benchmarks) quick results, daily walkthroughs
Action Steps:

  • Pre-asses to determine student knowledge
  • Adjust lesson plans accordingly

H – Hope Building
Action Steps:

  • Inventory students and staff
  • Implement 24/7 Hope (if they don’t have it, teach it)
  • Monitor Results

A – Arts, Athletics, Advanced Placement
Action Steps:

  • Implement strong arts program
  • Step up the activity (read Brain Rules)
  • Implement Advanced Placement curriculum

R – Retooling of the Operating System
Implement CHAMPS=Champion mindset, hopeful effort, attention skills, memory, processing skills, sequencing skills
Action Steps:

  • Use a 360 degree assessment
  • Develop Targeted plan
  • Enrich operating systems – CHAMPS
  • Monitor Reults and modify skill building as needed

E – Engaging Instruction
“Engagement happens when students are choosig to attend, participate & learn.” (pg 136)
Action Steps:

  • Find, recruit and train the best staff you can find
  • Gather information from students
  • Communicate the evidence and make a plan
  • Add a strategy each week and monitor the progress

Engagement Tips:

  • switch up social groups regularly
  • incorporate movement (stations, switching etc…)
  • Ask more compelling questions
  • appreciate and acknowledge every response
  • use energizers (games, dramas, simulations, demos, etc…)
  • keep the content alive wi call backs, handraiseres stretching etc…
  • Be passionate. If you don’t make it exciting and interesting, it won’t be!

Chapter 6: Instructional Light and Magic
An interesting break down of a freest teacher in action. A minute by minute, phase by phase synopsys of the day of great teacher, leading up to, during and following instruction. Imagine what would happen in regards to learning if we all took this approach to education.

3 thoughts on “Teaching with Poverty in Mind, by: Eric Jensen

  1. Payne’s critics, like Jensen do have merit in the debate on poverty because she does appear to be stereotyping those in poverty, as well as the middle class and the wealthy. I understand she has experience in poverty from her husband growing up in it, but I feel as though that may have tainted her views. Although, she have some good points and she describes the hidden rules of each economic class well, it is those rules that characterize the stereotypes. I believe that Pyane, Jensen, and Gorski could all reconcile with their views. After all, they all do have the well-being of those in poverty in mind and could combine ideas and strategies to reach a compromise. By using each others research and resources they might be able to oraganize, plan, and implement a working handbook for educators.

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