Challenges of teaching rich kids

Discussion in 'General Education' started by sonflawah, Jul 18, 2011.

  1. sonflawah

    sonflawah Companion

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    Jul 18, 2011

    I've taught in a school for 3 years where the students were very poor and many of the problems in the classroom reflected that. They had no internet at home, were responsible for watching little brothers and sisters when they should have been in day care themselves, single parent homes, came to school hungry, etc. Now this year I will be teaching at a middle school where the majority of the kids come from rich families. I don't know what to expect, but I do anticipate that they will definitely have internet and computers at home, so that's a plus. I don't think they will be hungry or come to school in ragged clothes. What challenges would I face while teaching rich kids? Thank you!:)
     
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  3. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Jul 18, 2011

    I used to work with incredibly wealthy students in a summer program in college.

    You know what's interesting, I found these students to be more challenging than the inner city students I normally worked with sometimes. A couple days ago there was a thread about teaching "difficult" students. Someone (eded?) mentioned that "difficult" is really just a matter of perception. I loved my "difficult" inner city students because I could totally understand the reasons behind their behavior, and I knew how to help them. In my job this past year, I had two students with severe adhd that drove everyone nuts- but they were two of my favorite kids to work with because I developed such a good relationship with them.

    However, the wealthy students I worked with often had a strong sense of entitlement and a bad attitude towards authority (yes this is a stereotype- I'm not saying if you're rich you're automatically like this, just that many of my students were). The older ones (14-15) were especially bad. There were times when their actions/attitude just made my blood boil. So I'd say attitude/work ethic (they expected everything to just come to them on a silver spoon) was the biggest challenge for me.
     
  4. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Most of the families at my school are very affluent, and it sometimes shows through in the kids. A lot of my kids have nannies, chauffeurs, etc. and they are used to getting what they want when they want it. I mean, in 1st grade many of my kids probably just think their lifestyle is normal, so it's not something that is so visual, but occasionally it comes out. Last year, I had a student (whose mom is a movie actress) who always made a deal about, "who has ..." " who lives in a coto?" sort of thing, so there was a lot of competition in my class last year. I didn't have that issue this year, thankfully.
     
  5. stampin'teacher

    stampin'teacher Cohort

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    Jul 18, 2011

    I am in my fourth year of teaching, and my first three years were spent at a very affluent private school in West Los Angeles. As far as teaching supplies, and availability of supplies throughout the year, it's an absolute dream. What I found to be the challenge was the sense of entitlement that many (not all) students come into the classroom with.

    I loved my school because we had high academic expectations of each student, and the admin handled the senses of entitlement from parents & students VERY well. This lessened what I had to deal with in the classroom because admin already bit many problems in the butt before they every met me.

    I also found it was difficult for students to relate to the world around them more. Our theme in 4th grade was Social Justice, and it was a difficult concept for students to grasp, because they had never met adversity in life, so they really had no concept of the challenges that many people face. I actually used this to my advantage, sharing with students my own adversities being a hispanic female growing up. They were SHOCKED that someone they loved and respected had ANY challenges in life, and that people actually lived in apartments.

    I definitely wouldn't have any preconceived notions of your students or what their attitudes may be. I had many students that felt entitled, but many that were more empathetic towards other people than any children I've ever seen.
     
  6. teach42

    teach42 Comrade

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    Jul 18, 2011

    I agree with this statement. I think teaching in affluent areas presents its own challenges but I think all kids/adolescents can face similar changes regardless of socioeconomic status. I interviewed at a very affluent area not too long ago and while I was in the bathroom, there was a girl crying in there. I don't know the reason for it but I felt really bad for her and wish I could've done something to help. It made me realize how regardless of socioeconomic status, all kids face challenges in their lives and as a teacher, I should be wary of that and not prejudge them based on status. Even if they seem to have this sense of entitlement and certainly have advantages over someone who is less privileged, they face their own problems in life.
     
  7. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jul 18, 2011

    I wouldn't go into a new job anticipating hurdles...any job has it's challenges and it's rewards. Some high SES families are busy with high demand careers so family time is at a minimum, sometimes a nanny handles the day to day. Regardless, they're all kids. Find ways to connect with them, make them feel capable and contributing.

    BTW, did you tell your admin about your pregnancy yet?
     
  8. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Jul 18, 2011

    I have some of this in my school also. I try every year to expose the students in some way to the realities of life. Some things our school has done include older students working at the soup kitchen once a month, bringing canned goods to school to make goodie boxes for the poor at Thanksgiving; one year we participated in "solidarity." This was really neat and different grades did different things.

    For a week we identified with children who lived without the blessings we have. One day we didn't use electricity all day. One day we hiked about a mile to fill our bottles with our daily ration of water - all the sinks and drinking fountains were covered up. One day we just had rice for snack and lunch. The little guys gave up crayons and markers for a week. The older kids did a great activity where the put all their lunches together, then 2 kids got about 90% of the food, and the rest of the kids got 10%.

    These kinds of things make them think a little. They also need to be exposed to different lifestyles through reading. I used a book called Kids Praying for Kids. each month the book presented a child from another country and what obstacles they faced. Those kids prayed for these other children all the time.

    I also make sure they understand that in the classroom, we all have responsibilities, we all clean up, we all share with each other if there is a need. Kids usually step up to the plate if you give them the chance. One year I had a child who never ever brought a snack. Every single day, someone would share snack with her. A couple kids brought extra snacks to be able to share.
     
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  9. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Jul 18, 2011

    Definitely agree with this. To every student, his or her problems are very real and feel very painful to them. I try to remember that when dealing with anyone and not saying "well you have it so good so just get it over it."

    The thing I noticed most both in urban and suburban and rural schools is that the kids go through very similar things. They all have trouble with boyfriends/girlfriends, insecure about themselves, etc... They may come from different backgrounds but they do have a lot in common as well.
     
  10. kme93

    kme93 Companion

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    Jul 18, 2011

    I'm glad someone asked about this. I'll be starting in a school with very wealthy children. I don't know what to expect.
     
  11. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Jul 18, 2011

    During an observation in a very affluent school, I had a first grader refuse to work with me because he found out I didn't have a hot tub. He actually told his teacher that his dad told him he didn't have to do anything he didn't want to, and he didn't want to do any work for a teacher with no money.

    Ahem!
     
  12. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    ETA: what fascinated me was how he equated hot tub=wealth.
     
  13. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    Jul 19, 2011

    I teach in a very diverse school - we have about a 30% FARMS population and I'd estimate that about 40% of our kids live in homes worth, at a minimum, $1,000,000. And then, of course, there is everything in between. We have kids who live 12 and 13 people to a bedroom and kids who fly to Paris on their private jet for long weekends because Mom felt like shopping. I have really found that there isn't a stereotypical kid in either range. I have some problems with entitlement from both extremes (parents just don't like to tell their kids no nowadays) and problems with parents who are either over-engaged or disengaged from both extremes.
     
  14. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    Jul 19, 2011

    I'm making a similar move, but not as a classroom teacher. Depending on your organizational skills, one challenge might be keeping your online grade book updated. Like your students, most of my students had no reliable internet connection, so they never logged into our website. Now, you will have at least some parents who check every night. Other teachers who have made similar moves tell me that instead of having problems reaching parents, they have problems with parents over-contacting them, expecting to talk for a half hour on the phone.
     
  15. Rox

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    Jul 19, 2011

    My classroom is actually a bunch of students from small districts in the area, and we rent a classroom at this school, which is in a very affluent area. Most of my students receive free or reduced lunches, so there is a contrast between my students and the general ed students. The students in this school have been great, however, the PTA has not. Despite how much I try to support them (I am a member, we try to be involved with fundraising and volunteering, etc.), they don't want my students to be able to attend their assemblies and events. It's actually very disheartening, and I'm not sure what else I can do to help my students feel more welcome in the community.

    I also did my student teaching at a very affluent private school, and I remember one mother picking up her child and overhearing "Hurry up, or we'll be late for Chelsea's birthday party!" I inquired who this Chelsea was... yeah, the former president's daughter!!!
     
  16. tchr4evr

    tchr4evr Companion

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    Jul 19, 2011

    Same here

    My school, like several others, is a mixed bag. So, I see all the extremes. I have to say entitlement is the biggest issue, and again not all of them. Many wealthy students feel that someone will do it for them. Also, some do have a snotty attitude that drives me crazy. The worst example I ever had was this.

    I had a young lady in my beginning theatre class who was well-off. She was also very bright, and very artistically talented. She attended the local governor's school for the arts, and as she said, my class was a "boat" class. First, she took great pleasure in trying to show that she had read the plays we were discussing, or in correcting me to her seatmates. The worst thing she ever did, which actually made some of my long-time drama kids want to kill her was when we were working on the set for Midsummer (Shakespeare) I had sculpted these ten foot tall trees out of chicken wire and papier mache, and all the kids had been working on it for weeks. they looked really cool. We have no budget whatsoever, so my entire set cost like $100.00. First, she refused to get her hands dirty with the papier mache, and when they were all finished, she stood on stage, looking at them, and said to my face, "Those look so cheap. No wonder your plays are so bad. It's not worth the five dollars to come see it. I would have done it so much better." My jaw dropped, but before I said something terrible, I asked, "Really? Well, out of curiosity, how would you have done it?" She then elaborated on this very elaborate sculpting process that only she knew how to do, and that the materials alone would have cost several thousand dollars. She finished, and I asked, "But what if your budget was only $200.00 for the entire show?" She looked at me, confused, and said, "Oh, well then, why bother? It's not worth my time." And walked away. I had to stop one of my kids who had been busting their butt on the set from popping her one. To top it all off, I had asked her to design a backdrop for the set, but she would only do it if I paid her.

    Not all rich kids are like that, but often times they can't see beyond themselves.
     
  17. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    Jul 19, 2011

    I would agree that kids are just kids and have similar issues. But, on the wealthy side, I know that I have experienced more the entitlement issues that others have mentioned.
     
  18. Marci07

    Marci07 Devotee

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    I'm curious to know who the movie actress is. I mean, if it can be known. :D
     
  19. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    lol. I don't think I can give out her name, but I don't know what movies she has been in. I know she's going to the states this summer to shoot another movie.
     
  20. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

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    One more thing I have noticed is that most of the parents think their child is truly gifted.Whether they are or not I don't know. They've paid for extra tutoring and done all the museum/art gallery trips and exposed their children to all the world has to offer. Moms can afford to stay home and work with their children so most of our first graders can read on a third grade or above level.
     
  21. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    Jul 19, 2011

    A colleague of mine went to teach science at the International school in Monte Carlo. She had been a teacher in a 'regular' school all of her career. She was amazed at just how unworldly the rich kids were. 1st lesson with 17 year olds who had never done science prac (lab) before. So she chose a prac that we would normally do with our 11 year olds. Namely put hot water in a beaker and measure the temp each minute as it cooled then plot a cooling curve. She set up the equipment, explained the experiment and gave out written instructions. The experiment could not start because not one of them knew how to turn on an electric kettle!
    She took another class of 14 year olds to a supermarket to get food for a topic on nutrition. Most had never shopped for food before and were amazed when they saw things like pineapples for the first time!

    When she organised the annual trip to Amsterdam she had to organise hotel accomodation for Students, staff and bodyguards (these came along so that the kids didn't get kidnapped and ransomed)!
     
  22. sonflawah

    sonflawah Companion

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    Jul 19, 2011

    Looks like this year is going to be a lot different than my last three years... :) Looking forward to the new and the different.
     
  23. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    I think the lack of understanding about what is typical, and a sense of entitlement are normal for those children. When I was talking about moving, a child said, "the house next door is for sale! You could be my neighbor!" I am sure that house was priced in the millions! She just didn't know.

    I teach in a very affluent school and the kids just have no idea how "normal" people live. I try to tell them as much about my NORMAL life as I can. They are sometimes surprised when I tell them things like, "I can't afford to go skiing at --- over the winter break." I think that's a good thing for them to hear. I will tell them how much I make, what the normal salary for people in the US is, and what the top 5% make. They know they are in the top 5%. I have even invited the students over to my house for an end of the year party.

    I do a big social justice unit most years and we talk about poverty and what that means. We read books like, "A Life Like Mine" which is published by Unicef and DK. We read "If America Were a Village" and "If the World Were a Village" and do a math unit with it and do graphs.

    I have a problem with helicopter parents, very high expectations, and challenges with taking responsibility for poor behavior. Often parents don't do much for the kids. I also have kids who have behavior issues because their parents are never around and they are raised by nannies.

    I work in a high- tech and science industry area, and we have a high number of kids with Asperger's. I don't exactly know what the reason is for that, but I have my suspicions.


    *** I taught in a high poverty area (South Bronx) and when I moved to my new school, I was basically just surprised about how much the kids just did independently. For example, in the Bronx we had to teach "accountable talk" which was responding in conversation using phrases like, "I agree with __ because" or "I disagree.." Of course, the kids SHOCKED me during the first day of school when I did a read aloud and they just naturally talked that way!!

    It's much easier teaching in the affluent school. I send my newsletters by email, the parents usually show up for conferences, and the kids are good for the most part. It will be easier, but you will miss your kids from the old school!
     
  24. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    Jul 20, 2011

    On the other hand at the end of the school year one kid brought my friend a Prada Bag as a gift. She took it back to the shop as she didn't like it and exchanged it. It cost E1500 which is around $2100!

    Best HW exuse she got was that the kids had left the HW on the yacht (many of the kids lived on yachts in the harbour). The maid would search for it and if she found it the Captain would get it faxed to the school!

    There is a small street cafe outside the school and sometimes the staff would stop for a coffee (or adult beverage) and chat before heading home. Often bottles of champagne would arrive at the table sent by the kids who were also using the cafe!
     
  25. Pre-K Teacher 1

    Pre-K Teacher 1 Comrade

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    Jul 20, 2011

    I taught at a very afluent school for a while and have found the above to be true.
     
  26. soleil00

    soleil00 Comrade

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    I subbed in a very high income school a few times one year and I found those students to be more of a challenge to me than the low income students because of the things that have already been mentioned. They felt entitled to everything, some went so far as to ask why I was their teacher when I wasn't even qualified, I had parents ask me the same thing, and overall... those students were just sooooo needy/full of complaints and whines because their teacher bent over backwards to give them what they wanted to avoid problems with the parents.

    Needless to say, I was extremely upset having parents asking me why I was teaching their children when I didn't have the qualifications to do so!

    I actually requested to not be placed in that school again. That as my junior year of college and it added so much stress.
     

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