Thursday, December 29, 2016

Rethinking Poverty and Casual Conversations

Title: Rethinking Poverty and Casual Conversations 

By: Ann Van Etten
December 21, 2016
Teaching Tolerance

Key Points:  Ann Van Etten is a middle school language arts teacher.  She presents a critical point about being aware and thoughtful of students’ realities.  These experiences and realities vary from student to student.  With this being said, it is important to create a classroom environment that is accepting of this.  For example, a teacher asking students about the gifts they received during the holidays can marginalize students living in poverty.  Points made by Paul C. Gorski are also included in this blog.  He prompts teachers to challenge their own thinking about families and students living in poverty.  The questioning and thinking extends into exploring ways that teachers and schools perpetuate classist assumptions. Included is a link to Gorski’s article, as well as a list of changes teachers can make with the goal being to create more equitable environments for students living in poverty.     

Audience:  Educators and parents

Relevance:  Even though educators may have the best intent, it is pertinent to examine our own biases and assumptions so we do not further perpetuate marginalization or isolate students.  Educators have great influence in their classrooms and working together for the school as a whole.  The first step is asking questions about one’s own thinking and actions.  This will require intentional effort.  Also, taking time to talk with each student with the hope to gain a better sense of their reality will be valuable.  By knowing more about our students, we can then build on their experiences, and support them in finding relevance to content and making connections. 

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