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Teaching Students Unwritten Rules Key Step In Defeating Poverty

July 21, 2011

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If you grew up in the middle class, you probably observed your parents interacting with friends at work, church, or in the neighborhood. You saw what they valued based on what they pursued and prioritized. Hard work, striving to advance in a vocation, and education are all important pieces of a middle class upbringing. And you learned how to navigate that world through osmosis. Children in poverty learn to navigate their world through osmosis too. But, as Waco ISD teachers learned in the Ruby Payne poverty training this summer, they see their parents, or parent, prioritize a different set of values.

So how does a teacher transfer the values of advancement and achievement to a student growing up in a community where getting by is a day-to-day struggle? Simply recognizing that the student doesn't come into the classroom with the same worldview is a good place to start. But helping teachers and the community recognize that poverty means more than mere lack of money is key, says McKethan.

Some of those resources that many students lack include relationships with their parent, understanding of the way the outside world works, and spiritual guidance. But maybe the most important is a lack of emotional support. This leads to outbursts in class that will continue unless the teacher finds ways to communicate not just what the student is doing wrong, but why it's wrong, and why it may be acceptable at home but not in the classroom.

In short, teachers have to be able to teach more than just their subject. If they don't help provide resources and knowledge about the way the rest of the world works, many of their students will enter the work force without ever having received that training. And that training is vital if systemic poverty is to be broken. When we continue this look at the Ruby Payne training, we'll look at what teachers are told is the most important ingredient to a successful interaction with their students, and look more at the broader community vision behind this training and intitiative. Yesterday's story can be found online at kwbu.org. For KWBU News, I'm Derek Smith.

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