Monday, December 28, 2015

Just Because Our Students Are Living in Poverty...

Ban Ki-Moon

Many times we allow stereotypes to rule our perceptions of others, whether it's race, gender, or socioeconomic status. We allow these perceptions to cloud our judgment, and we make decisions based on these misconceptions. We believe if it is true of one, it is true of all. How unfair to the students who walk into our classrooms every day.

A child "living in poverty" seems to be a hot button issue right now, and rightly so. But how much do we let the fact that any of our students are living in poverty affect how we relate to them? How does the fact that our students are living in poverty, change the way we teach ALL of our students?

I'm just thinking out loud. We need to make sure that we put the "brush" away, and see our students as individuals, and not a statistic.

Just because they are living in poverty, it does not mean that:
  • we should not have high expectations of them, and only expect minimum effort.
  • their mother is an addict, Dad is absent, and no one has a job.
  • they can't read, write, or do math.
  • they can't make it to school most of the time.
  • they are not gifted.
  • there is not anyone at home who wants them to be successful.
  • they will behave poorly in class.
  • they should be provided with limited or non-equitable resources,
  • they can't compete with other students.
  • they are unable to participate in any extracurricular activities. (STEM, Mystery Skype,etc...)
  • they are only capable of test prep, higher-order thinking escapes them.
  • can not graduate from high school or college.
  • we are better than them, that we know better than them.
  • they don't want more, from their teachers, their community, their world.
  • they don't dream BIG.
Living in poverty comes with many struggles, but we should still provide our students with an education they could use to escape it.

Please take a moment to listen to this TED talk by Mia Birdsong," The Story We Tell About Poverty Isn't True."

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Sharing and Caring: This Can't Be Found in a Textbook!

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in curriculum, pacing guides, and standardized tests,that we forget that there is so much more we can teach our students. Or better yet, allow our students to learn.

As I mentioned in my last post, when students contact me, none of them remember how much math I taught them, or what they scored on tests. That's not the lessons learned.

Every Monday, during Morning Meeting,I share a Kid President video with my 4th grade students.A quick 3-4 minute video that engages my students, and starts their week off with laughter and/or a message.

It was the end of October, and we watched the Kid President video about Socktober. My students decided they wanted to participate. Of course, I said yes, but on one condition. I would be the facilitator, I would not be in charge. This was their baby!

I could go through the standards and demonstrate how they met a variety of them with this activity, but I won't. Instead I'm going to share the hard work they put into making this happen.

They ....

  • chose a chairperson and created a committee
  • turned in a letter with what had to be done and when it needed to be done
  • wrote the letter to get permission form the principal.
  • wrote a script and created the video( so cute!) that was posted in Smore and emailed to the staff.
  • made "Socktober" posters and hung them all over the school.
  • wrote a message that was read over the loudspeaker during Morning announcements.
  • decorated paper boxes in order to create "Socktober" boxes that were placed in the front of the school.
  • picked up the socks from the front office every day
  • took photographs
  • hung up names in the front of the school thanking the people who donated
  • counted out the number of socks in each box
  • chose another chairperson to head up sorting the socks by men,women, and children.(It was funny watching and listening to them figure out which box they should go in.:)
  • wrote the final thank you message to the school and read it during Morning announcements
  • will  present the socks to the representatives from the homeless shelter

And Most of All... cared enough about their fellow human beings to do this!

I am proud to be their teacher.I am happy that I was open to giving them the opportunity to do something that can't be found in a textbook!