Friday, February 6, 2015

Implications of Poverty in Today's Educational World

Still at the Title 1 Conference...I attended a session today by someone I had never heard of before, Tammy Pawloski (Here's her website) love the southern drawl!> Quite a bit of what she said was validation of what I already knew, but for some reason when you hear it at a conference outside of your day in and day out routine it can ring a different tune.  She also shared a few resources {see below} that would be incredibly valuable if you, your school or district is embarking on understanding just what poverty is and how you can use it as a challenge and not an excuse in helping to close the gap.

Anyway, here are some mind blowing stats that I just had to tweet out (@betsygomez03) about poverty and strong teaching.  During the presentation I couldn't help but think, "how did we as a society let it get THIS bad?!" Along with that was a million thoughts of what I could quickly do once I got home to help ease the stress along with some long range planning ideas I could tinker with (sorry I do not have the sources cited as she talked WAAAAY too fast, but if you visit her website, I'm sure you'll find them):

-Kids in poverty are 5 times more likely to drop out of school
-2 years with an effective teacher cannot remediate 1 year with an ineffective teacher
-Students from disadvantaged backgrounds make greater gains with strong classroom teachers (ie: the teacher is the single most important factor!)
-43% of a student's academic performance can be traced back to the teacher (quality/relationships)
-High quality teachers + positive relationships = 31% fewer discipline issues
-9 out of 10 success stories of students getting out of poverty point right to influential adults

and if your mind isn't blown quiet yet, here's the one that will do it:

The first 5 years of a child's life in poverty are more influential than 
gestational exposure to crack cocaine.

I know you're saying, "whhhhhaaaaaaat?! How can that be?!" Well when I reflect on some of my children at schools I've work(ed) at and the situations they come from, some have been clearly traumatized to the point where we as the school need to take care of some mental health issues WAY before we can even attack mastering grade level appropriate prefixes and suffixes for the NeSA. 
Where do we go from here? I'm pretty sure I'm headed back to hug every single one of my 400 little children.  I am incredibly fortunate that the staff at my building GETS positive relationships.  It is just who WE are and we will continue that crusade.  We need to continue our efforts to build capacity in our staff.  THEY are the ones who make the most difference!  Also, we need to expand our repertoire as much as possible in the area of community resources to help assist our families (and to reduce stress!)

Now for the she shared was  It is kind of like a choose-your-own-adventure poverty style if that makes sense.  I found myself holding my breath with my heart racing {Disclaimer: do not do it right before bed like I just did!} and finding myself literally stressed!  Luckily, I have the strategies and resources to calm myself back down.  Pawloski talked about how many people in poverty do not and thus, live most of the day in the high stress zone.  So. Sad.

Another resource she shared was (if you Google SAIPE you'll run across it too).  This resource allows you to look at poverty across the nation, your state, district and down to your school.  This is especially important for people who are visual and need to see that yes, poverty does exist, even in places where you might not think it does.

So, the question is, what are you or your school doing in the 
war against poverty to help students rise and become successful?

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