1. Build authentic connections with students. Students learn from the people they know care about them. If you care, show your students by being tough on them. Be consistent with your students, and be present in their lives. Do not make assumptions about your students. Simply meet them where they are. “More recently, Dantas and Coleman’s (2010) study addressed the complexity of diverse families’ lives and also illustrated how miscommunication between teacher, school and families from all backgrounds can lead to teachers’ own reality and perceptions being influenced by their ‘uninformed assumptions’ (p. 170).”
2. Just because you are qualified to teach doesn’t mean that you are qualified to teach me. A four-year degree, and passing pedagogical tests do not qualify you to teach, at least in my opinion. It takes more. It takes a willingness to continuously improve, challenging yourself year in and year out. “In addition to the many challenges associated with educating students living in poverty, the teachers in these schools are generally less experienced and have much higher rates of attrition (Ingersoll, 2004).” Show your students you want to be there, and stay, “ride or die” with the students, in other words do not be afraid to overly commit to your students.
3. Find out what your students are interested in, and build your lessons around their interest. It takes very little time and/or creativity to change a word problem to reflect what’s happening in the lives of students. Students should be able to take learned skills from the classroom and make that learning adaptable to real life situations. “Instructional modifications that involve individual interest necessarily involve prior knowledge—learners are likely to have high prior knowledge about their interests (Renninger et al., 2002).”
4. Have frank and honest conversations with students about high expectations. Having high expectations for students should be a classroom normality. In urban areas, some of these students have been a part of cyclical generational poverty. That cycle can end by showing students the importance of education and instilling passion into student learning. “Culturally responsive teaching offers ways to best support diverse learners in an inclusive classroom as it approaches education by looking at the whole child where students are empowered intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically by using cultural referents to impart knowledge, skills, and attitudes (Ladson-Billings, 2009).”
5. Lastly, make the parents apart of the learning process. Parents want to be involved in their students’ lives. “Teachers should think of parents as thought-partners in providing rigorous, meaningful education to students (Ankrum, 2016).” Make parents a part of the process. Make them feel welcomed in the school environment by creating trusting, long lasting partnerships. Parents are not the enemy.
Ankrum, R. J. (2016). Socioeconomic Status and Its Effect on Teacher/Parental Communication in Schools. Journal of Education and Learning, 5(1), 167.
Dantas M and Coleman M (2010) Home visits: Learning from students and families. In: Dantas M and Manyak P (eds) Home-School Connections in a Multi-Cultural Society: Learning from and with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Families. New York: Routledge, pp. 156–176.
Ingersoll, R.M. (2004). Why do high-poverty schools have difficulty staffing their classrooms with qualified teachers? Washington, DC: Center for American Progress.
Ladson-Billings, G. (2009). The Dreamkeepers: Successful teachers of African-American children. (2nd ed.) San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Renninger, K., Ewen, L., & Lasher, A. (2002). Individual interest as context in expository text and mathematical word problems. Learning and Instruction, 12, 467-490. Doi:10.1016/S0959-4752(01)00012-3