Teaching in a low-income school

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by TeacherBug08, Sep 3, 2013.

  1. TeacherBug08

    TeacherBug08 Companion

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    Teaching in a low income school

    My schools is 98% free/reduced lunch. I really do love my job teaching lower elementary. However, do any other teachers feel like they are just constantly nagging the students in low income schools? These children take so much out of you. They have so much needs that are not being met and sometimes it feels impossible to help. I feel like management is more apart of my day than teaching, but I expected that. I was just wondering if other teachers in low income schools felt this way? I feel like in my other experiences I've never had to be that nagging teacher. What I absolutely love about teaching in a low income school is that the students come to school so excited and happy. They may have a hard life, but that's all that they know. I always remind myself if they are happy and ready to be there after everything they go though I must be positive, patient and ready to teach!
     
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  3. kellzy

    kellzy Comrade

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    My school has about that many free/reduced lunch. I can't say I feel like I'm nagging because this is all I've ever known as a teacher.
    I must say though I do agree with you, they really are happy and excited to be there, not to mention how easy it is to fall in love with them! I don't know if I could ever bring myself to work in a more wealthy area.
     
  4. TeacherBug08

    TeacherBug08 Companion

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    I just feel like I am pretty hard on them, but I know that if I am not they will walk all over me....Also, with other schools I've been at I've never called students out in front of others but in this situation I feel like I have to or I would lose control of the class if I would go talk to that student individually etc.
     
  5. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    I am very strict, and even more importantly, structured with my students. I hold them to a very high standard (and myself as well). My kiddos, however, definitely know that I love them. I spend lots of time (and $$) making my classroom a warm, welcoming, nice place for them to be (something they don't often have at home). I also strive to give them the comfort of knowing what to expect - in our daily schedule, in our routines in class, and in the results of their behavior (good or bad). I really don't feel as if I spend a ton of time on behavior management. In the beginning of the year, we go over rules & procedures, practice, discuss, etc. Anytime I introduce a new routine or procedure (or an established one goes awry), we simply go through the practice again - I explicitly teach, then we model, and practice the correct way! Taking the time in the beginning to "front-load" expectations, rules, and procedures gives me much more time as the year goes by for instruction and activities.
     
  6. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    They are very precious and fragile people. After 15 years of teaching very low income kids, I moved to a school in an affluent area. These kids and parents are wonderful, but they don't need me like my poor kids. Then it really fries me when our principal crows about our high test scores being due to great teaching. I was a great teacher in the low income school, but had low scores like everyone else.

    Teachers who are thriving in low income areas should get higher pay. Not everyone can teach that population. I've been lobbying our state to start a special credential for teachers who deal with low income kids. Next I'd like to see a state law saying low income schools need to have "highly qualified" teachers who are properly trained to work with that special population. I would hope this would go far to making teaching in these schools a professional honor.
     
  7. MissMae

    MissMae Rookie

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    I grew up in a low-income school. All of my friends' siblings were in gangs type school! I would say just show you care, make your class fun (hands-on), and lots of procedures help. Be the person they can count on because so much of their lives is just up in the air all the time. I remember kids going home with sacks of groceries donated by the school because they didn't have food at home. So, being hungry through-out the day is a huge thing. Even with free lunch, its hard to make it through the day.
     
  8. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I went from a "low income" to an actual "inner city" district and I felt like I had to be A LOT more strict and structured. My class was actually fairly well behaved, but I think part of that is because I didn't let them get away with anything. In my previous school I could be a lot less strict and I honestly didn't really have to think about behavior very much. I did feel like in the inner city school that managing was a bigger task than teaching sometimes.
     
  9. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    I think much of the behavior comes from the children thinking about where their next meal comes from, if their shoes will last the year, if Dad will be home tonight, etc.
     
  10. TeacherBug08

    TeacherBug08 Companion

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    I am just SOOO nervous I am going to get burnt out....I had no idea that teaching in a low income district like this would be so hard. I am constantly have to redirect etc. My mornings are always great but in the afternoon I never know what is coming through the doors after recess. And like I said on top of everything I just feel like I am nagging all the time!
     
  11. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    I'm on my 21st year in a low-income school.

    I do feel like some days I nag them all the time, but it's partly because I like things a certain way, and I really work to make sure my procedures are in place. I don't like surprised. I want my room to run like clockwork. Does it? Well . . . not always.

    I'm not sure whether that is because I'm in a low-income school or because they are middle school kids. It's probably about equal.

    I do feel like the kids need us. For many, we are the only structure in their days. Some don't know where they will be in a week. Others are moved from relative to relative. Most come from generations of poverty. All of our kids get free breakfast and lunch (70% qualify, the others are part of a grant), and a lot get food bags sent home on the weekends. I buy paper & pencils. I've bought shoes and clothes. I buy granola bars and cereal in bulk. I've paid for field trips.

    Sure, academic progress is great, but it's not the most important thing for many of these kids.
     
  12. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    I love it. I really can't see myself ever teaching in another type of environment. I've actually never taught in a high income environment, so I'm not really sure what that would be like or if I'm having to do things differently.

    Structure, love, and humor. :)
     
  13. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    I feel like maybe you need to be more strict or even just strategic with your management in a lower income school- but your entire day shouldn't be management. I never understood people (especially those who never actually taught in a low income setting) saying that people want to leave schools like that so they can actually teach and not just worry about behavior all day. If you have the proper management systems in place and a halfway decent admin to support you with extreme cases than there's no reason you shouldn't be able to teach as much as anyway else.

    I also think of lot of kids in low-income settings, at least in my experience are craving attention- any attention. They'll gladly take your negative nagging attention if it means they're getting you to focus on them. That's why it's some important to give more positive attention.
     
  14. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    I love the idea of a special credential. It really does take a unique set of skills to teach in a low income area. Our students need so much more than a "good teacher", they also need a mentor and counselor. I think social work and counseling classes should be a part of the special credential :)
     
  15. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    I love it. I'm with you, yellowdaisies! Even with all the administrative, (lack of) parenting, and inherent problems and headaches, I don't think I WANT to teach in a "better" school. My babies NEED me. Most do not come from homes where academia is high on the list of immediate priorities. I'm not saying it's not important, but food, shelter, safety, clothing, etc., are higher on the priority list when you live in a low-income urban environment. Besides, I have friends who teach at the so-called "better" schools, I and I don't want to deal with the politics, grade-harping by overbearing parents, wardrobe criticism, etc., that they describe! My wardrobe is professional, but comfortable. My parents see their students' each week, so they know my grades are fair, and we don't have the political angst that permeates so many other schools. I love my tiny, poor, urban neighborhood school!
     
  16. Miss84

    Miss84 Comrade

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    Well in the area I live, inner-city teachers DO get paid more than the surrounding suburbs.
    Although my day can be QUITE hectic in a low-income school (from the lack of supplies, admin support, and of course parental support), I really can't see myself teaching elsewhere. Yes the first few weeks I have to be "mean", as these kids need clearly defined limits. But at the same time they need to be "loved" since most are coming from battlefield-type home lives.
    Definitely teaching in these conditions aren't for everybody. My coworkers and I often joke that our salaries are high because they are giving us "hazardous" pay to work here lol.
     
  17. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Lucky you! I wish I got paid more!! LOL
     
  18. scholarteacher

    scholarteacher Connoisseur

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    Sep 6, 2013

    I'm in a low-income school in NC, the lowest paying (as far as raises--1 in 7 years!) go. I spend about $2500 a year-or more-on stuff for school. But, for instance, I have 20 kindergarteners, and only 3-4 speak any English at all, even though all but 1 was born here. I have learned certain words like bathroom, sit, etc. in their languages, but receive little parental support on reinforcing behavior, learning to read, etc. So, yeah, I love it here, but I'm stressed to the point of just about breaking! I feel your pain! Hang in there!
     

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