Title I Schools

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by Ms.History, Jul 15, 2013.

  1. Ms.History

    Ms.History Rookie

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    Jul 15, 2013

    This year, I will be teaching 7th grade at a Title I school with a 90% Hispanic student body. I might be in for a rude awakening, but I am extremely excited!

    ANYBODY who has experience teaching at a Title school, please share your experiences with me! What was the hardest part? How is it different from other schools? Can you suggest any resources for me to prepare for the year? Please be brutally honest!

    Also, I would love to hear any ideas on how to celebrate/respect the students' Hispanic backgrounds. I plan on asking them to teach ME a lot about their culture, but would appreciate if anybody has ideas for how to incorporate it in my class. I'm teaching Texas History.
     
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  3. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Jul 15, 2013

    Honestly- what school isn't Title I anymore?

    When I started at my school, we were the only non-Title I elementary school in my entire county. We qualified my 2nd year. The only difference is that we have WAY more resources- both in terms of people and materials.

    Title I is based on the free-and-reduced lunch percentage. With the economy the way it is, more schools qualify. It doesn't make them 'bad' schools!
     
  4. Ms_C

    Ms_C Comrade

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    Jul 15, 2013

    My school this year had a very similar make up. The only real advice I have is to find out who your Spanish speaking only parents are. I ran into this problem a few times when I had to make phone calls home or schedule parent/teacher conferences. For me it was not that big of a deal because I grew up around the language and also took it throughout high school and college. I am no where near fluent but I know enough to get by. I did tell me students up front that not to say anything in Spanish that they wouldn't say to their momma because I knew what they were saying. One student did not believe me and made a rather rude remark about another's mother in Spanish. I simply asked him if he would like to call his mother and repeat exactly what he had just said. Of course his answer was no and I never had that problem again.

    My students also shared this youtube video with me and we all laughed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYviBsqwwzE
     
  5. Preschool0929

    Preschool0929 Cohort

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    Jul 15, 2013

    I teach in an elementary school with similar demographics. One thing that we always try to avoid is having the student translate for their parent. Even though its so much easier to ask the student sometimes, we as a staff agreed last year that it wasn't professional and we never wanted to make a parent feel like their child needed to speak for them.

    Just a thought :)
     
  6. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I've always taught in a Title I school, and we're now a Title I district. We are Title I for low-socioeconomic levels. We are 99.98% white and will be 100% free/reduced lunch this year.

    I really don't think anything about it. I live and work in the same place where I grew up, so it's just normal to me. I did find that reading Ruby Payne's work on poverty helped me with understanding the mindset of many of the families that I work with on a daily basis. Even though I grew up here, I did not grow up in poverty. I needed help understanding some things.
     
  7. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Not all Title I schools are the same. Both my current and previous schools were Title I, and they were light-years apart in regards to the students and families. As giraffe said, Title I schools have a lot of additional resources that non-Title I schools don't have access to.

    Just get to know the demographics and families in your particular school. Recognize that many kids may be coming to school hungry and without adequate rest, and you'll need to accept that or find a remedy for it when they're having trouble paying attention in class. There may not be a lot of school support coming from the home in regards to homework help and providing school supplies. Avoid taking what I've said as a blanket statement though, as there are many families in Title I schools to whom it does not apply. Both of my Title I schools had families that made sure their kids ate breakfast, set a bed time, helped with homework, and even sent in extra supplies for those kids whose families couldn't afford them.
     
  8. Ms.History

    Ms.History Rookie

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    Jul 16, 2013

    I SO appreciate all the input! I will be compiling a list of your suggestions, and reading the suggested titles. These answers have raised a couple more specific questions:

    When communicating with non-English speaking parents, what methods did you find to work the best?

    What about sending home papers that require a parental signature? (Class syllabus on first day, "Time out" reports for behavior infractions, etc.) I typically sent home the syllabus on day 1 and counted it as their first grade of the year. (Everyone should start out with a 100%). This seems unfair to some of the students whose parents work evenings. Any suggestions?

    For students coming to school hungry and tired: (This breaks my heart, and it's so hard for me to wrap my mind around how kids can go hungry with all the programs available?!) How did you cope with this? I'm all for keeping a stash of crackers and fruit, but in my middle school experience, ALL of them are hungry by about 10:00 am! How do you keep it from being abused? What do you do to help the students who come to school tired?

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with me!
     
  9. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Does your school provide breakfast? I've suggested it to parents before, especially if you can say something about how early they can drop off their child. Something along the lines of "You can drop him off at 7a.m., and get to work on time. He will be here, we'll provide breakfast and he'll go straight to class."

    Find out when lunch is served. At my school we start serving lunch at 10:45a.m., my son's high school they start even earlier.

    Hopefully an adult is with the child in the evening or even first thing in the morning. That adult can sign the syllabus or whatever you have.
     
  10. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    Check with your administration and see if translators are available. Our district has a translation service that we could call, who would then call the phone number of the parent that we supplied to them and translate our conversation. Also, there might be someone at your school who can translate letters that you send home.
     
  11. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Jul 16, 2013

    Sometimes you have parents who don't even work evenings... They just don't care enough to take the time to look at and sign papers. Fortunately, you don't find too many parents like this, but they do exist. Just try to remember not to hold it against the kiddo. Call home if needed, and consider exempting that student if you're sure it's the parent and not the kid. No reason you can't give credit to the majority of your class, just don't punish a kid for their parent's behavior.

    My school served free breakfast, but we had a lot of families that didn't make it to school before the bell rang, let alone time for breakfast. I even allowed them to bring a breakfast from the cafeteria to the classroom if they arrived before the cafeteria quit serving. Some kids came in half an hour late or more, and, by then, it was too late for breakfast. I usually kept crackers or granola bars in my cabinet and gave them out when needed. My family was great about donating boxes of snacks here and there, because they knew I had a lot of hungry kiddos in my room. Honestly, I never had much of a problem with kids taking advantage of it. I didn't offer them out to anyone and everyone (except during testing week!), and I only gave them to kids after having a one-on-one conversation with them about why they were off task. I had one little boy who always fell asleep and told me how hungry he was at 9 in the morning. I asked him if he had breakfast every time, and the answer was always no. He never once asked me for the granola bar, but I always gave him one. None of the other kids ever asked why he was the only one that got one at the time. I had set the standard that "Every one gets what he/she needs, and not everyone needs the same thing."

    For those tired kiddos, I tried to incorporate movement breaks. If the entire class seemed sluggish, we'd do a whole class mini-brain break (with jumping jacks, hopping on foot, turning in a circle, etc. in Simon Says style) for 1-2 minutes. If it was just one kid, I usually sent them for drink/bathroom break (told them to splash some water on their face) or gave them an errand to run... anything to get them moving. When it was really severe, which was pretty rare, I'd actually give a kid permission to lay down on my carpet with a pillow. There was no shaming them... I just told them that it appeared they were having trouble focusing because they were so tired and to take a break on the carpet and come back when they were ready. Again, I never had anyone abuse this. The kid either came back to their seat pretty quickly (within 5-10 minutes) or zonked out cold (which told me that they truly needed it). I'm sure this wouldn't work quite the same in a secondary setting, but hopefully there is some way to adapt it to meet your students' needs.

    Basically, the bottom line is that you just have to really get to know your kids and families. You'll know who is truly in need and who is just trying to take advantage. Just be understanding and compassionate, and recognize that many of your students may be growing up in much worse home conditions than you ever imagined as a child.
     
  12. bek3

    bek3 Rookie

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    Jul 16, 2013

    I teach third so it's a bit different, but I encourage older siblings to sign for daily homework (reading) completion when a parent is not available. In many cases the high school aged sister is way more responsible than the parent. Behavior action plans always require a parent signature. I've found that many students are able to make this happen by leaving it out for a parent to sign then putting it into their folder before school the next day. My rule is if it doesn't come back signed the next day, the child has to call the parent and tell them about it at recess time. I have only had to do this once and it was a situation where the kid hid the behavior action plan to avoid the consequences.
     
  13. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Jul 16, 2013

    I only taught for one year in a Title 1 school, but the worst thing by far was all the freaking PAPERWORK! Good god! Anytime we went to any conference or meeting, we would have to write up at least 1 page about things that happened. Every time progress reports or report cards went out, we'd have to fill out two full pages of questions on every student. We'd have to prove multiple parent contacts every 9 weeks, for every student. In order to get an actual referral sent in, we'd first have to have written up 3 ways we have tried to defer the behavior before the referral (with 3 parent contacts of course). And of course, I had to keep portfolios of every kid's work, in order, with goal number, and a comment of whether improvement was made during the year.

    Kids were great. Paperwork BLOWS.

    eta- If your school is 90% Hispanics, I bet you'll have a translator in the school. Our school had a Spanish and Vietnamese translator.
     
  14. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Jul 16, 2013

    My school is over 90% free/reduced lunch and about 97% Hispanic. I have only ever worked in Title 1 schools, and it's probably where I'll spend my career, to be honest.

    The hardest thing for me is the language barrier. I get very frustrated not being able to easily communicate with parents. For home communication, every single thing we send home as a school is sent home in both languages. I have a TA for an hour a day, and the one I had this year was bilingual. She did phone calls home (for reminders, NOT behavior or anything) and wrote a couple of notes in Spanish for me. There are enough Spanish speaking personnel at my school that I can usually piece communication together. I have a very rudimentary knowledge of Spanish, so I can usually get the gist of what is being said or written to know if anything is being left out of what I want to say.

    My school has free breakfast and lunch, so the food thing isn't a huge deal. However, I have given goldfish crackers to a couple students who missed free breakfast and were in tears because they were hungry (first grade). My little guys never abused that system, but I can see that middle school would be different.

    My goal is to provide a nurturing, supportive classroom environment, but I do not have low expectations. I think it's easy to make excuses for kids from certain backgrounds. Their backgrounds may EXPLAIN certain behaviors/low achievement, etc. but does not EXCUSE them. It is my job, as their teacher, to have high expectations for them and support them every step of the way in meeting those expectations. In my view, education is SO much more vital in communities like the one I teach in. This is their way out of the cycle.

    One of my little students really summed it up a couple months ago. She said, "My mom works at Denny's. I don't want to work at a restaurant. My mom said she has to because she could never go to college." Even my six year old students get it.

    I know parents from these communities get a bad rap, but going in with understanding is the best for everyone in the long run. ALL parents truly want the best for their children, I believe.
     
  15. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    We don't have a language barrier, but we do have some parents (or grandparents) who do not read or sign papers. Some don't think it's important. Some can't read or write. Sometimes the kids have older siblings, neighbors, or some other person who can keep track of things for them. One year I signed a student's planner every week because NOBODY at home would take the time to look at it, or even pretend to look and sign it.

    One year we had small 10 minute morning & afternoon classes that were meant to help kids get the support they needed. We'd see them first thing in the morning. Make sure they had materials for the day. Check homework. In the afternoons we could make sure they had their backpacks, make sure they understood any papers that they were taking home so they could read them to the parent if necessary.
     
  16. Ms.History

    Ms.History Rookie

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    Jul 16, 2013

    Oh wow, I had no idea about the extra paperwork!! Did you come up with a good system for keeping track of student discipline and parental contact? Maybe I could find something out there to keep individual reports together in a binder?

    Same with the parental contact quota for each 9 weeks? I had no idea to expect this, so thank you for the heads-up!

    I love the idea of allowing a sibling/neighbor to sign off on papers.

    I also LOVE the idea that these factors EXPLAIN but don't EXCUSE behavior. I will really need to remind myself of this. It seems like such a fine line between being empathetic and being a pushover.
     
  17. Mrs.Giggles

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    Jul 16, 2013

    This thread has really helped me out quite a bit as I will be teaching in a Title 1 School. 95% of the students are African American and 90% are enrolled in the Free and Reduced lunch program.

    I wanted to share some advice that my instructional coach just shared with me in regards to parent contact. He said to make it a goal each night to call at least one parent and share something good about their child. This does not include the calls you'd be making for behavior, issues, etc. He said this way each parent is contacted for a positive reason at least one a month and the call only lasts five minutes max. He told me that this is what helped him establish and maintain a good rapport with the majority of his students' parents.

    I hope this helps you as much as it helped me!
     
  18. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    All those things were specific to my school, I'm sure it's different at others. I got used to making at least 3 phone calls to random parents every day after school. Some were "good job!" phone calls, some were bad behavior phone calls.

    What I did to keep track of all this was have the class rules to be sent home and signed by the parents. On the back of this paper I printed a phone log sheet that had: Date, Time, Who was contacted, What was discussed and I kept them in a binder according to class. Every time I made a phone call I'd pull out the binder and write everything down. If a phone number was disconnected, I'd immediately email the social worker and I would write that down in my phone log.

    For student discipline I had sheets for every kid and when they had a bad day I would write it down either during or right after class. Before I turned them in with a referral, I'd make a copy to keep for my records (I would also turn in referrals with a copy of that student's phone log). On these papers they had: name, date, time, incident, and intervention used.
     
  19. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was to give a "test" on your rules the second day of class. Tell the kids the first day, when you go over class rules, that they will have a test the next day. Then tell them that you will call every single one of their parents and tell them their grade. Make that test so easy that every single student will pass. Then call all their parents telling them what an excellent grade their kid got on their first test in your class.

    You have now made positive first contact with parents. Now, when you call for more serious stuff, they'll take you seriously. Worked wonders.
     
  20. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    I've almost always have worked at a Title 1 school. I've not had to do tons of paperwork. Yes, I have to record when I went to a PD. I've never had to prove parental contact. Some of my parents, I talk to very rarely. My school doesn't have a referral process.
     
  21. Pisces_Fish

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    I find some people have trepidations about teaching at a Title I (not suggesting the OP does) but I find I actually prefer it.

    Pros:
    • The funding is great. I have a lot more resources available to me (still waiting for a SmartBoard, though!! I hope someday ;)
    • More professionals are there to support me (a full-time Instructional Coach, Math Coach, Literacy Coach)
    • The kids don't have much at home, so it's easy to get them excited
    • We get special funding for in-house field trips, like a visiting scientist or a rep from the local kid's museum

    Cons:
    • Your mileage may vary, but I find there's a lot more families that don't speak English at home, and sending a Spanish translation doesn't always meet their needs. Last year I had Korean, Vietnamese, and Arabic families
    • Again, your mileage will vary, but I find many parents aren't literate in English or their first language. Many notices go home unread and unreturned
    • Parent participation tends to be lower than the non-TI schools where I've taught
     
  22. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    I'm really happy to see that it was just my school that had this. Obviously I left the country after my first year teaching, but the paperwork issue was the reason I had decided to not go back to a Title 1 when I moved back to the US.
     
  23. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    We have Title I specialists who deal with most of our paperwork. I haven't noticed a marked increase in paperwork since we received our Title I status a few years ago.

    As for concerns about working in a Title I school, I would just add that homework compliance may be a problem. We have a horrible homework compliance rate at my school. It's truly abysmal. I have basically given up on the idea of homework because it simply won't get done. As an electives teacher, I have a little more freedom to make that sort of decision than my core counterparts.
     
  24. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    I have not found this to be the case. I have worked for Title 1 schools for 11 years (about 7 different schools in the same district). In our district, we do not have extra resources. In fact, next year we will not have any math workbooks or textbooks. We have no social studies text books, no money for field trips, no coaches to support us.

    To hear of other district's Title 1 resources makes me wonder what our district is doing with its Title 1 funds.
     
  25. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I would be wondering too.....

    Both of my schools were able to send us to many professional development workshops that was funded through Title I money. I don't think our textbooks and supplies were funded this way though. Rather, those were funded through our regular budget. I think there was a stipulation that a specific portion of it had to be spent on PD and teacher resource books. We also have an additional literacy coaches and reading specialists that other non-Title I schools in our district do not have. We were told that we were given the additional staff due to our population and designation as Title I.
     
  26. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I've also noticed that there isn't really a ton of extra resources at my Title I school. This is true at least for classroom/student resources. The additional money we get for Title I seems to go towards technology (which I don't often get to use because it's earmarked for certain courses), additional staffing, and instructional coaches.

    Funny story: One of our instructional coaches was telling us how he went out and bought all sorts of iPad accessories, just tons and tons of stuff like wireless speakers, special apps, just all sorts of things. One of the other teachers said something about how that was interesting, especially given that we can't even get copy paper or Kleenex. The instructional coach sort of dialed it back after that. It's hard to see so much money being spent in a certain way when many teachers feel so limited by a lack of resources.
     
  27. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I strongly agree with this sentiment. Strongly.

    I held my students to very high standards, regardless of their background. I made sure that I tried hard to understand where they were coming from and make accommodations as needed, but this did not translate to lowering the expectations.

    I thought I was doing the right thing. My college professors had ingrained in my mind that good teachers have high expectations after all.

    I was truly stunned when I received this feedback from on my final evaluation of the year: "You're too hard on your students. You expect too much of them. Some of them have said you're mean. You just can't relate to them." In my head I thought: "Of course some of them said I'm mean! They're in third grade, and I've held them to higher expectations than any adult in their lives ever has! When have you ever even been in my room to observe this mean behavior you speak of?!? You're not coming in to observe enough, or you would know that you're sadly mistaken." What I said out loud was: "I'm not sure I agree with that. I think it's important to have high expectations, and I believe that I've developed a good relationship with most of my students." That was that.

    Thank goodness I moved on to another Title I school with a much more supportive administration.


    I agree with this, too. Very much so.
     
  28. Ms.History

    Ms.History Rookie

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    I've been thinking about this a lot... Especially the post regarding students coming to school tired. I can see how allowing them to go sit in a beanbag chair (and possibly nap) would be completely acceptable for younger students, but what about older students? I feel like allowing them to sleep during instruction time would interfere with my having high standards for them.

    What do you guys think? Are there any good alternatives for sleepy older students?
     
  29. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    If this is only happening on a rare occasion, I think you might just want to send your older students on an errand... have them deliver something to another teacher or the office, have them get a drink or use the bathroom... anything to get them up and moving for just a few minutes. If you notice it to be a consistent problem, you may want to involve your guidance counselor and/or school nurse. Although I have very little experience in the secondary setting, I can completely understand why laying down/taking nap in the classroom would be inappropriate for older students.
     
  30. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Jul 24, 2013

    Our Title I funds pay teacher salaries.
     

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