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Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind

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Abbie Price

Professor Hanson

EDU 221 J

February 9, 2018

Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind

        Today our culture has certain conceptions about engaging with students that live in poverty. The conceptions include that these students are lazy, do not care about their education and have poor language and communication skills. The achievement gap data documents show a trend of low academic performance for those of low SES students when compared to their middle-class peers. While reading Jensen there are many ideas that confirm and debunk this idea that students in poverty are lazy, do not care about their education and have poor language and communication skills.  

Health and nutrition is the first factor that confirms that students living in poverty are affected. Those low socioeconomic status students are at greater health risks. The lower the parents’ income, the more likely it is that their children will be born with disabilities. Meanwhile, those in poverty are less likely to exercise, get proper diagnoses of health problems, receive appropriate and prompt medical attention, or be prescribed appropriate medications (pg. 9). Lastly, those that live in poverty are likely to live in old homes that are not being kept up with. These factors have a significant effect on children’s behavior. If a child has an illness and is not treated correctly they will not perform to the best of their ability. Nutrition confirms that students living in poverty are affected. Those in the lower socioeconomic class may not be able to afford every meal. According to Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind, this has a clear negative impact on their academic achievement (pg. 10).  Not only is not having food an issue, so is not getting the nutrients needed in their diets. Those in poverty can only afford the low-cost, low-nutrient diet. Poor nutrition has a great impact on students learning and engagement. When these children don’t get enough food or don’t get the adequate amount of nutrients it affects their behavior. Students can’t focus rather they are worried about when their next meal is.

Vocabulary is the second factor that confirms that students in lower social classes are affected. Vocabulary helps students learn, remember, and cognition. A student’s ability to comprehend is very important when trying to get them to understand concepts. Teachers can use context clues and visual aids to help add meaning to build students vocabulary.

Effort and Energy is the third factor that confirms that low SES students are affected. The gestures that students give in class, for example, slouching in their chairs, is a familiar one to many teachers. Low-income students typically value education as much as middle-income students do. Low SES students typically spend at least as many hours working each week as do those in the middle class. Students that live in poverty want teachers to connect to them. If teachers can’t do this than the students feel as if they can’t trust them, which results in them giving up. Effort matters a great deal in learning (pg. 13). Teachers need to get students excited about topics so that they want to learn. When students want to learn they tend to put more effort in. Students that show a great interest in learning essentially tell you that your teaching is good.

Mind-set is the fourth factor that confirms that those living in poverty are affected. Those students in the lower socioeconomic status tend to have a negative view of the future and a sense of helplessness (pg. 13). Poverty is said to be associated with lower expectations about their future turnouts. Mind-set is extremely important for both students and teachers. A student’s attitude toward learning contributes to how successful they turn out to be. If a student believes that they cannot increase their intelligence, they tend to disengage. Whereas, when students have positive mind-sets and teachers focus on helping these students achieve their individual goals students’ engagement increases. It is up to the student to have a growth mind-set towards learning, while, also having a teacher that is looking for students to grow and achieve their set goals. Teachers support helps students believe in themselves.

Cognitive capacity is the fifth factor that confirms that those living in poverty are affected. Cognitive capacity is affected significantly by socioeconomic status (pg. 14). A students IQ, achievement test, grade retention rates, and literacy are affected by socioeconomic status. Poverty affects student brains. A student living in poverty has a brain that is smaller with less volume for new learning and memory. Students with low working memory struggle in learning and verbal ability which leads to short attention spans, high levels of distraction, problems in monitoring the quality of their work, and difficulties in generating new solutions to problems (pg. 15).

Relationships is the sixth factor that confirms that living in poverty has an affect on people. Some students living in poverty may only be living with one of their two parents. This could affect the students developing brain which can lead to them becoming insecure and stressed. Those living in stable homes with both parent’s present help stabilize and support children’s behavior. Those that were raised in positive environments have an advantage on those living in poverty because they learn healthy, appropriate emotional responses to everyday situations. Children living in poverty don’t learn this as well because of that one parent figure missing. This can negatively affect student’s engagement to learn.  Younger students with poor emotional regulation have difficulties in learning and are more likely to be depressed. While, those older students seem to overreact to others’ which can lead to inappropriate behavior at school (pg. 16). It is important to develop a strong teacher-student relationship to help counter the negative effects of these inappropriate emotional responses and has a profound effect on student engagement (pg. 16).



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