As some of you may know, I’ve been teaching in a low-income, Title 1 school for the past three years. Over those years I’ve come to realize that students CAN succeed no matter their circumstances. I know it will be harder and they will have more barriers in their way, but I truly believe that they CAN succeed, and when challenged, most students will rise to the occasion.
With three years of teaching under my belt and insightful help from my teammates, I have developed a list of how to help students succeed no matter their circumstances. These are things I frequently have to remind myself of as the rigors of the job weigh me down, or the taxing circumstances my students deal with seem to get in the way of their achievement.
- Always treat students the same. It doesn’t matter if you know one is homeless and one lives in a brand new home, both students should be given the same opportunities and should be treated as equals. It may be easy to feel sorry for a student that is having a rough go of it and of course you should be compassionate. However, do not lower your standards for that child or use their circumstances as an excuse, because then they will believe they can as well.
- Build relationships with parents. This is vital because we all know parents are key in their child’s education. While you may not have the same parent participation as you may have in a private school, you should do what you can to call, email or send notes home to parents. Forging a two-way relationship with parents is invaluable. When parents know how much a teacher cares about their child and how hard they’re working to help that child succeed, parents are more likely to put in extra effort as well. This article by Rocketship Education talks about honoring the power of parents, and even gives examples of parents feeling so empowered that they end up starting schools of their own!
- Accommodate your expectations to what the students have access to. If you know 20 out of 22 students don’t have computers at home, maybe don’t buy a fancy subscription to an online resource that they can’t use. Instead think about what they do have access to, and put your efforts there. For example, sending home things like flash-cards, extra books, or other materials may help just as much as links to online books, games, or websites.
- Provide experiences for them that they may not have otherwise. Thinking about doing a lab in Science but not sure if it’s worth the effort? Think about the fact that maybe your students have never been exposed to something so cool, or that maybe they look forward to coming to school because it’s like a field trip for them every day where they get to experience new things.
- Believe in your kids. Because at the end of the day, they are YOUR kids. While not biological, you probably spend more time with them each day than your own kids (unless your kids are like mine and you are guaranteed an 8-hour long snuggle session each night because they refuse to sleep in their own beds- ahem). So show them that you care, that you love them, that you believe in them and that they CAN succeed. Having a cheerleader in their corner will stick with them for the rest of their lives.
If you keep all of these tips in mind, chances are, your students will have no option but to succeed. Getting students to succeed despite their circumstances should be something to be very, VERY proud of. So, You go TEACHER, we are all rooting for you and appreciate the hard work, sweat, and tears (literally) that you put into the job every day!
Parents, if you’ve been looking for other schooling options for your kiddos, check out Rocketship Education, a non-profit network of public elementary charter schools serving primarily low-income students. This group can help provide resources and different school options, like great local charter schools.
Disclosure: I was compensated for this sponsored post.