Leadership that matters for educating students in poverty
There is no magic quick fix. Leadership for educating students from poverty requires a daily focus, immediate interventions, and a long-term commitment. All aspects of the school must be examined to ensure a holistic approach to addressing education barriers for students living in poverty conditions.
10 essential elements For leaders who want to increase success for students living in poverty conditions:
- Clear messages from leadership that educating students from poverty is a priority that is not going away. Poverty related discussions should be on all staff meeting agendas
- Examine and align school curriculum to ensure it relates
to the lived experience of students from poverty
- Review teaching and learning practices to ensure students with oral culture learning styles needs are met (team teaching, novelty in curriculum, group work, peer reading, and experiential learning opportunities).
- Organize school environment/activities to increase relationship building opportunities between students, staff, leadership, parents and community members. This could be parties, music resource fairs etc. Leaders must model positive connections including compliments, being attentive, and selecting students in poverty for leadership and special opportunities.
- Rally help from the community and build solid strong support for this effort. It is very important for leaders to do their homework on all the available agencies/resources in the community that can help with poverty-related barriers (such as housing, food, clothing, transportation, etc.).
- In order to improve educational opportunities for students living in poverty, leadership must ensure a “buy in” from all school staff that students in poverty conditions can learn. Adopt a policy: Know your students better than you know the subject you are teaching! Raise staff awareness about the nature of the challenges that kids from poverty face and provide professional development opportunities specifically focused on best practices for educating students living in poverty. Create internal opportunities for staff to share “what worked” or success stories.
- Set aside some time for informal and “proactive” connections with parents. Seek their wisdom about their child. The focus should be on learning from parents about the student as a person, not academics (i.e. What are they interested in? What helps them when they are frustrated?). Educators are more willing to customize the learning and be flexible when they understand specific situations.
- Make sure that the teachers set high goals for students in poverty and that they provide extra help to ensure students are able to overcome their specific challenges and achieve those goals (always ask, “Am I setting them up for success with the poverty conditions they face?”). Students achieve when they are engaged with the learning, connected to the teacher, and have academic successes.
- Regularly reflect as a staff on what works and what does not work for students living in poverty conditions. Collect and present frequent data on student progress. Use the data to intervene early. Do not let students get behind and discouraged. Also, check with students and their parents
to gain feedback from them on what worked and what did not, and always ask what they need from you to be successful at school.
- Be articulate in the school as well as in your school community about your school’s current reality regarding educating students who are living in poverty conditions. Share data as well as anecdotes that show what you are doing, what is working, areas where you would like to see growth.
Please chick here to view this as a pdf file, or to print.