Low SES community

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Smhope20, Aug 4, 2011.

  1. Smhope20

    Smhope20 New Member

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    Aug 4, 2011

    I am a first year teacher and will be teaching either elementary special education in a self-contained classroom or high school resource/inclusion. I was raised in a bigger city in another part of the country, and now will be teaching in the small, rural, high poverty community where I have lived for a few years now. I am in the middle of reading "A Framework for Understanding Poverty," and it has enlightened me a lot, but I am looking for any practical advice I can get on teaching students living in generational poverty and communicating with parents as well. I want to come across as nothing but loving and respectful, but I feel like I need some tips from someone with experience in this situation so I can put my foot in my mouth as little as possible. Thanks for all your help!
     
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  3. WaterfallLady

    WaterfallLady Enthusiast

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    Aug 4, 2011

    I'm going to be honest- Framework for Understanding Poverty is great but most of it is based on generalizations that I found were not accurate for the school community I was teaching in. The best thing to do is be supportive, and don't expect any parent involvement or them sending in supplies. You will be pleasantly surprised. Don't be upset if parents don't show up at conferences, they are probably working. If a field trip requires money, give them a month's notice. Parents may be unable to help their children with homework due to education levels or working time. It would sometimes take forever to get signed papers because mom got home when the kids were sleeping and kids left while mom was sleeping. That was urban poor.

    When I taught in a more rural community, I had to keep in mind that a lot of kids had farm chores in the afternoon. Sometimes their parents had low expectations for their children's academics because they just want their kid to be able to take over the farm.

    I've had the most supportive parents at low SES schools :)
     
  4. Smhope20

    Smhope20 New Member

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    Aug 4, 2011

    Thanks

    That was very encouraging. Thanks for your insight. Anyone else have something to add? I welcome all advice.
     
  5. Ms.SLS

    Ms.SLS Cohort

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    Aug 4, 2011

    I've never worked in a rural, low SES school, but spent years at a large, urban school. I found that Framework for Understanding Poverty DID fit a lot of the scenarios in that school, but I could definitely see how the same would not apply to a rural school.

    I'm switching to a similar demographic myself this year, and I'm interested to see the differences between rural and urban.
     
  6. BellaEstrella

    BellaEstrella Rookie

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    Aug 4, 2011

    1. Maintain the communication lines, and be persistent. The number of times I would call home and a phone line was disconnected... well if I had a nickel!

    2. Find out who is important in your students' lives. I teach high school and oftentimes it is their football coach, or their basketball coach, instead of their parents.

    3. Acknowledge and champion how your students are different from you. I am from a large, affluent suburb and moved to a large, urban area in another part of my state. The kids think it is fun to tell me stories about their town, or make light of how I STILL get lost driving around town.

    4. The emotions of my students in my Urban strict are a world different from where I grew up. Oftentimes kids will come to school in a terrible mood, and they may explode on you. Don't take it personally. They may be experiencing things at home that you are not aware of, be patient and consistent. Never hold a grudge against a student for a bad day.
    The tip the other reviewer gave about keeping in mind household chores your student may have. At the beginning of the year I give my students an 'interest inventory' where they can tell me their favorite tv shows, music, etc. But also other responsibilities they have outside of school: the number of students you will have at the high school level that have to take care of siblings/cousins/their own children after school will be higher than in a higher SES community. (Over half of my 6th period last year had a kid of their own)

    Good Luck! You will find that Low SES communities may be the most rewarding experience of your life
     
  7. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Aug 5, 2011

    I think one of the biggest things is just staying real and true to who you are, yet being open to "who you are" changing and growing because of your experiences. Stay humble, open yourself to learning, and enjoy the process rather than trying to rush an outcome. Good luck - it will probably be a lot of fun and very rewarding to do something different!
     
  8. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    Aug 5, 2011

    I have a really hard time understanding priorities. For example, I had a student tell me that she couldn't bring a snack to school because there was no food in the house. I called mom to offer support and found out that she was really short on money. I bought a few different healthy snacks and sent them home with the kid. The next week, the kid got her ears pierced, which was at least $30 in our area....

    But I try to NOT assign my own priorities and values to the parents. Sure, I would feed my kid before I paid to have her ears pierced, but in their culture/community, the way you look, and the way you keep your kids looking, is highly, highly valued. And she knew that the school would find her child food. It just didn't occur to her, based on her experience with money, to save that $30 for another time next month when food may run low. And it really isn't my place to suggest that. But it's hard to not judge. REALLY hard.

    What I tell myself over and over and over is that I'm not there to make the parents into middle-class citizens. I have these kids for only a half day, five days each week, and my only job is to do the absolute best for them while I have them there with me. I can't make their parents sign permission slips, or send them healthy food for snack. I can't make their parents do homework with them or check their communication folder daily. I can only do my job the best way I possibly can and hope that the little time I get with the kids helps them in the long run...
     
  9. tired.mom

    tired.mom Companion

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    Aug 5, 2011

    I agree with this...the best thing was to let go, quit being frustrated but also not make myself a doormat or enable people/students/parents. I had low SES students I taught make fun (!!) of my high school-age daughter's and my unhip cell phones with no data plans, lol, in comparison to their snazzy ones. But their parents told their kids there was no money for pencils or paper or notebooks. I quit providing supplies because of that.

    That said, a lot of the parents really do care and are struggling to do the best for their kids--but on the same note, you've also got a multi-generational history of poverty...it's hard.
     
  10. historynut

    historynut Rookie

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    Aug 5, 2011

    I agree with a lot that has been said here. Be prepared for skewed priorities like others have said. I've worked in my current school for 5 years and I see parents in nice new cars and the kids with no supplies, not even clean clothes.

    Anything that requires money give plenty of notice like WaterfallLady said. We give several months notice for field trips and offer payment plans. They do want to participate but $5 may be all they can afford that month. It's nice that they know we will work with them.

    Communication is going to be a struggle. We have conference nights that we stay at the school till 7pm just so we can accommodate the working parents. We do that 1 to 2 times a year. Like BellaEstrella said be prepared for disconnected phone lines and just play bad numbers. We work closely with our social worker. She goes to the homes or work places if we absolutely can not get in touch with a parent. I tend to rely on written communication a lot because of some odd work schedules.

    Please keep in mind that anything that requires a parent signature may take a few days to get back. Most of my students have to take things home and leave it on the fridge, counter, etc. because their parents are not home to read it before they go to bed. I usually give a couple of days before I start telling the child I'm going to call for it. Most of the time Mom/Dad hadn't seen it on the fridge or there was a miscommunication on where it was.
     
  11. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Aug 5, 2011

    In my experience, with some (not all) parents, if you want something signed, tell them it's a field trip permission slip!
     
  12. missjessica

    missjessica Rookie

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    Aug 5, 2011

    I worked in a rural, low SES community. It was difficult. When students got in trouble or needed help it was very hard to get in touch with parents because at their jobs they weren't allowed to answer the phone. Families would pick up and leave one day because they heard immigration was coming around town.
    The best thing you can do is talk to the parents as much as you can. It will be hard to get them to listen, respond, volunteer, etc. but all you can do is try. There will be some who will and some who won't respond to your requests.
    Understand that when students are having a hard day it's because some have a hard life at home. Some don't eat breakfast, dinner, or even sleep at their own parents' house.
    Despite these hardships, I found that the school I worked at was so close. The janitors knew students and their families and hugged kids he knew in the hallways. Teachers were close to their students and truly cared about their loves. It was a great place to work.
     

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