Monday, March 9, 2015

Chapter 5 Classroom -level Success Factors

Teaching with Poverty in Mind; Chapter 5


In chapter 5 my focus, as I was reading the success factors of a classroom, was the COACH program.  Since I am a coach at RHS I frequently use the strategies of coaching skills to my players to my students in the classroom.  Jensen states that successful schools use an intervention plan to attack the issue of low-SES kids called COACH:  Choosing Outcomes and Accommodations for Children. 

Through my years of teaching I have heard this philosophy of Coaching your students in the classroom as if you coach them through the skills and game preparation as your players.  I think this philosophy of COACHING works mostly because you build a relationship with your players and connect with them in a different way than a teacher’s classroom students.  Coaches have an outcome to compete and win and if not back to the drawing board and see what needs to be worked on.  I think it makes sense to approach your classroom the same way.  Assess your students and see what skills that are mastered and what needs to be worked on to perform at the next level.  Jensen Calls this step-Identifies family-centered priorities & Describes additional learning outcomes.  As a coach I would then use my supports to help the athlete set his goals and objectives.  In the classroom Jensen uses the steps of:  Outlines general supports to be provided for the student, translates priorities into the IEP goals and objectives, Summarize the educational program.  The final outcome of the game philosophy as a coach would be compared to Jensen’s steps of:  Planning team for implementation, Coordinate participation classes, evaluate. 

My biggest reflection would be to attack my classroom as a Coach:  Plan for each student, Action steps for implementation, Assess or outcomes, Retool or advance to next step.  Key role as a teacher would be to make that connection to your students and develop a relationship as a team effort. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Chapter 4 Schoolwide Success Factors

Chapter 4 reflection

As I compare chapter 4’s suggested programs to help low –SES to Rugby’s District policies I feel in general our district is on the right track in developing their programs.  Chapter 4 divides the approaches into schoolwide and classroom focused strategies.   Our district has implemented policies  towards a schoolwide approach and the staff works toward policies in the classroom to help SES students.

 Jensen uses the acronyms SHARE to take an approach toward providing a positive experience in the school atmosphere.  S-Support of the whole child, I feel our district tries to engage the whole child not just academically but knowing the needs of the child.  As a district we collaborate to address issues concerning all needs of the child.  H=Hard data, Rugby’s district compiles data and I know there is a lot of useful data in our resources.  I’m not sure we have a system to use it.  Data is reported to the staff and we gain knowledge of our students but I think we have room to improve implementing data.  A-Accountability, this approach is one of our districts positive traits.  Staff at rugby holds themselves high in accountability toward providing a positive experience to the students.  Teachers work hard to provide a safe and academically sound experience for their students.   R-Relationship Building is the newest approach our district is focusing on.  I feel this new goal has started out in a positive way and will grow to create a more positive situation for the students of RHS.  E-Enrichment Mind-set, currently this policy is in progress too.  The PLC and engagement goals are steering our classrooms to a more productive mind-set to have our students grow in problem solving.  Enrichment in the classroom is challenging.  Trying to balance the classroom for special needs students and then enriching the minds of the high achievers isn’t easy.  Using our Scope and sequence plans and I can statements will help us as a staff to reach this goal.

I feel our district is doing positive policies to address the low –SES students, but I feel there still is a lot of growth needed.  The biggest challenge will be to communicate with the resources of the community to provide special services the student needs.  A teacher cannot be trained to provide these special services a low-SES student may need.  To incorporate a full SHARE approach more resources from social services, doctors, counselors, nurses and psychologists will need to collaborate with schools like rural Rugby. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Poverty Class 2


Takeaway from Chapter 3

What stuck with me from Chapter 3 is a very simple statement:  “Brains can and do change.  Brains are designed to change.”  So why do low-SES kids stay in their same environment and don’t change?  We know that poverty is not a sentence for a standard life, but why does the pattern continue.  Even stretching that idea to non SES kids, why do some students stay average-enough to get by- and don’t push to the next level?

Jensen states, “The reason things stay the same is because we’ve been the same.  For things to change, we must change!”  Brains are designed to reflect the environment they’re in, not rise above them.  Wow!  So as a parent and teacher I need to make a change.  Boy is it too late?  Jensen reassures me later in the book that it is never too late to change, just easier at a young age.  That statement made me feel a little better, but what a big task to make the change.

Jensen talks about the change in the brain using the terms Neuroplasticity and Gene Expression. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s structure that allows region-specific changes to occur in the brain as a result of experience.  This brain study is a topic that really is of interest to me.  Research shows that our parietal, frontal, and temporal lobes are all receptive to specific stimuli that cause measurable neural changes.  These changes are: Video games, language training, and learning skills like playing music.  The brain is pushed to increase its processing speed and size for growth.  Jensen further states that students’ brains will be changing every single day.  When this happens, their level of attention, learning, and cognition change too.  “Whether they are changing for better or for worse depends heavily on the quality of the staff at your school.”  Another WOW!  The pressure keeps building.  It does make sense, we are in a constant movement of learning and change it is how we use that change for better or worse.  Like a marriage vow!  As teachers we take our job and try to make the worse better and keep the better going. 

We still have the old debate of gene versus environmental for brain development or IQ.  This factor of gene expression is another interesting topic discussed in chapter 3.  One statistic that sticks with me is that all humans share 99% of the same genes,  yet they may not be expressed in each human.  We as teachers need to remember that students can make changes regardless of their genetic makeup.  Studies show that students are not academically stuck, yes IQ is highly inheritable but not 100% genetically determined.  So with that study how do we make those changes so SES students change the pattern to rise above their environment? 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Poverty 1

 Jensen’s “Teaching With Poverty In Mind”, is a very worthwhile read.  Immediately I could relate to school situations and students, community atmosphere and personal experiences.  The theories and research used in the book are shocking yet make sense when you put them all together.  I am very interested in the brain study and how the brain is wired.  I feel being aware of poverty situations helps you grow as a teacher and person.

Jensen states the risk factors of poverty are “EACH” Emotional and Social Challenges, Acute and Chronic Stressors, Cognitive Lags, Health and Safety Issues are the most significant.  30 – 50 percent of our behavior is DNA accounts for, so an estimated 50 – 70 percent explained by environment.  Wow!  What we are born with and into is our behavior, so how do we use that statistic to help our students?  So when I look at that student and interpret his behavior and few it as a lack of respect or manners, I need to step back an analyze the situation more and ask myself “How is this student wired?”  Is their environment affecting their behavior or lack of support or strong secure relationships causing this situation? 

“The Emotional Keyboard” was an eye opener for me.  Children from poverty use fewer keys than  well-off children.  Visualizing the piano keyboard, there are six keys we are hardwired in our DNA:  Sadness, joy, disgust, anger, surprise and fear.  Emotions taught are: humility, forgiveness, empathy, optimism, compassion, sympathy, patience, shame, cooperation, gratitude.  If my students environment does not allow him to be taught these emotions, then school and myself are responsible to provide him with some guidance. 

As I look back at my experiences in the class room with students and their behavior.  I know most of my problems or outbursts with students was because they were not taught how to work with that emotion.  Did I recognize that, not always.  As I became more experienced in my teaching I can recognize these deficiencies and work with these students in poverty and try to help them through.  I feel I need to expect  those disruptive behaviors and model how the behavior should be and help add to those emotions not taught.

Jensen’s statistics and theories are continuous throughout the book.  Most of the situations we have realized before but looking at how they affect the students brain to trigger their emotional reactions is truly amazing to me.  It just makes sense and opens my eyes to take in account the environment question when I’m put into a disciplinary situation.  I look forward to continuing the read and learn more of how the brain is wired and what environmental affects contribute to our Emotional Keyboard.