Students Impacted by Poverty RECOGNIZE THE SIGNS. UNDERSTAND THE ISSUES. TAKE ACTION.

Summarized and adapted from: Jensen, Eric. 2013 . “How Poverty Affects Classroom Engagement" Educational Leadership 70 (8): 24–30.

Inadequate Healthcare/Nutrition

It's hard to use my brain when my body isn't getting what it needs.

Inadequate Healthcare/Nutrition

Recognize.

Students may seem IRRITABLE OR DISTRACTED.

He or she may find it DIFFICULT TO FOCUS ON and MAKE SENSE OF IDEAS AND INSTRUCTIONS.

Understand.

Even in the short term, feeling hungry or sick negatively impacts a student's attention, cognition, and behavior. When periods of inadequate nutrition and healthcare extend over long periods of time , the negative effects increase and can have lasting effects.

Take Action.

  • Ensure daily opportunities for PHYSICAL ACTIVITY.
  • Provide discrete, easy-to-access information for low-cost or no-cost MEDICAL CARE available in the community, including those that address mental health, optometry and dental care.
  • Provide discrete, easy-to-access information for low-cost or no-cost access to FOOD available in the community, including free/reduced meal programs at the school.

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Disrupted Relationships

When I feel sad, angry, or scared about relationships at home, it can be hard to handle what's happening at school.

Disrupted Relationships

Recognize.

Students may be perceived as UNCARING or DISTANT.

Conversely, he or she may seem OVERLY SENSITIVE.

Student may be DISRESPECTFUL or CONFRONTATIONAL.

He or she may display IMPULSIVITY or INAPPROPRIATE SOCIAL RESPONSES.

Understand.

Families in living poverty face considerable adversity, which impacts interpersonal relationships. A student living in poverty may experience highly stressful or disruptive relationships with significant people in their life. Difficulties a student displays when interacting with others may stem from mistrust or fear. He or she may "push away" others in an attempt at self-protection.

Take Action.

  • Be POSITIVE, CARING, and RESPECTFUL towards students.
  • Honor the HUMAN DIGNITY of the students and families you serve.
  • Communicate CLEAR AND EQUITABLE EXPECTATIONS.
  • Know that building relationships may require you to exercise both INTENTION and PATIENCE.

Chronic Stress

Sometimes I feel like everything is about to fall apart, and there is nothing I can do about it.

Chronic Stress

Recognize.

He or she may demonstrate noticeable AGGRESSION or marked PASSIVITY.

The student may be prone to CLINGING AND CRYING.

He or she may be viewed as WILLFUL/UNMANAGEABLE or IRRITABLE/MOODY.

Understand.

A student exhibiting these behaviors may appear to be out of control or unmotivated and aloof. It's important to understand these behaviors are symptomatic of stress disorders. Chronic stress increases impulsivity, impairs working memory, and negatively impacts social competence.

Take Action

  • Lead an ENERGIZER to reduce stress and provide students' brains with oxygen and glucose.
  • Share COPING TOOLS that the students can use to manage stress over time.
  • Give students more control by allowing CHOICES and using CLASSROOM DECISION-MAKING.
  • Identify a caring adult to engage the student in a SUPPORTIVE, RESPONSIVE RELATIONSHIP.

Feelings of Hopelessness

No matter what I do, things won't change.

Feelings of Hopelessness

Recognize

He or she may appear APATHETIC or UNMOTIVATED.

The student may show signs of LETHARGY or SLEEPINESS.

His or her body language may communicate DISENGAGEMENT.

Understand

Some students living in poverty may struggle with feelings of hopelessness, depression or learned helplessness. Uninformed teachers may mistake these struggles with an inherent lack of motivation on the part of the student.

Take Action.

  • SEEK SUPPORT from other school/district professionals, when appropriate.
  • Teach students that that their futures and ABILITIES ARE NOT FIXED.
  • Provide high-quality FEEDBACK that is task-specific and actionable.
  • Guide students to BELIEVE IN THEIR POTENTIAL, not their limitations.
Created By
Kelly Matteri
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