First Presenter's Institution

Johnson and Wales University

Second Presenter's Institution

NA

Third Presenter's Institution

NA

Fourth Presenter's Institution

NA

Fifth Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Ballroom E

Strand #1

Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance

Strand 2 Heart:

According to The Children’s Defense Fund, children are the largest group of people living in poverty in the United States (CDF, 2015). This workshop will share the findings of a phenomenological advocacy study which explored personal student feelings and thoughts about who is responsible for their future – themselves or others. A clearer understanding of our students may assist administrators and educators in providing improved programming to assist this ever-growing population to be more successful in school. The five major themes that emerged through this study were: Care for Me; Talk to Me; I Want Someone I Can Trust; I Need to Worry About Me; and Others Motivate Me.

Brief Program Description

Participants will be able to describe poverty, poverty in education, poverty in the classroom and have first hand knowledge of a student’s perspective on life in the school building. Many research studies have focused on school success in relationship with gender, ethnicity, race and culture, however, “poverty may be the most important of all student differences…” (Burney et al., 2008, p. 295).

Target audience: administrators, educators, boards of education

Summary

As of July 2016, The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) reported that children are the largest group of people living in poverty in the United States, with 29.9% of all children living in poverty and 9.9% in extreme poverty (CDF, 2016). Effective classroom management in school districts serving our country’s poorest students requires that teachers and administrators have a clear understanding of the effects that generational poverty might have on student behavior and responsibility for that behavior. In a time when the largest growing population living in poverty is children (National Center for Children in Poverty), this study sought to better understand a student’s perception of how poverty influences their own, as well as, their peers’ behavior within the classroom while further probing to understand the student’s understanding of their own social responsibility for behaviors within the classroom.

This presentation is the result of the completion of phenomenological advocacy research with personal depth interviews. During the depth interview, the interviewer asked the participants, students living in generational poverty, to describe, with minimal direction from the interviewer, their experiences with participating in and/or observing inappropriate school behavior. The participants were requested to provide their insights into the reasons for the occurrences of such classroom behavior (Yin, 2009).

The major findings from this study demonstrated that the students interviewed did not feel cared for, listened to, or communicated with at school. In addition, students were conflicted as to who was responsible for their future – others or themselves. A clearer understanding of student needs may help educators provide improved programming to assist this ever-growing population to be successful in school. “Resilient children, those who are happy and successful, learn to manage their emotions, thoughts, and behavior in part through the common denominator of living, working with, and being educated by available and caring adults” (Brooks & Goldstein, 2001, p. 290).

The workshop will include participants taking a brief quiz, powerpoint presentation of literature review and research findings, small group conversation revolving around participants own school building experiences, large group sharing – moving forward – how best to support all of our students. Activities designed to foster building relationships between adults in school buildings and students will be provided for participants to take back to their districts. Research has shown that strong relationships in school buildings is the greatest indicator of student success (Burney & Beilke, 2008; Jensen, 2009; Payne, 1996).

Evidence

Many research studies have focused on school success in relationship with gender, ethnicity, race and culture. However, “poverty may be the most important of all student differences…Focusing on overcoming the limitations of poverty may be more productive in influencing the lives of individual students” (Burney et al., 2008, p. 295). Building relationships and having someone to confide in and trust is as important as learning to take responsibility for our own actions. All students must be enabled to try to help themselves, and (be) permitted to do so, (then they) will gain the self-esteem, self-confidence, motivation, and know-how that will impel them to persevere. They must be helped to become self-directive, and this goal requires their participation in decision making. They must have the opportunity to try and to fail and to try again… (Penchef, 1971, p. 90)

This occurs when students work with trusted adults in their lives who guide and nurture them. School personnel must remember that when they do not include students in decisions about their own education, students are just receiving and not participating. Students require the opportunity to grow as learners in a supported educational environment. Houle and Cobb (2011) describe a classroom where children are given freedoms “so as to show respect for them as learners, who are already able to learn, concentrate, focus, work and accomplish” (Houle & Cobb, 2011, p. 91). Some students may not have support systems in place in the home environment, so school systems will need to develop alternative supports and remain flexible rather than excluding these students (Worrell, 2006).

“Educators cannot eradicate poverty, remove neighborhood gangs, stop cultural violence, heal parental addictions, or prevent the myriad of other types of stress, risk and trauma that many students face daily. Yet my teachers, like most teachers, did much to foster my resilience without even knowing that they were doing it” (Henderson, 2013, p. 24).

Based on the findings of this study, it is recommended that school officials ensure that their teachers are familiar with the possible influences of poverty on their students. Care must be given not to allow for bias in teaching children from poverty. “If that is the case, many schools and teachers may be reinforcing ways of thinking and talking about children in poverty that are false, prejudiced, or at the very least, limited” (Boomer et al., 2008, p. 2500). Rather, by knowing the possible influences of poverty, educators may be more adept at building stronger relationships with their students and families, thus encouraging independence and resiliency, in order to promote higher levels of achievement for all students.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Wallis Johnson has been an educator for 19 years. She has engaged many students through her work in urban, Title I schools. While completing her doctorate in Educational Leadership, she conducted research by interviewing students living in urban generational poverty. Her belief - that students, our greatest stakeholders in education - deserve a voice. In addition to teaching at the elementary/secondary levels, she is also a faculty member for the State of Connecticut Department of Higher Education.

Keyword Descriptors

Poverty, Student Voice, Education and Poverty

Presentation Year

2017

Start Date

3-7-2017 1:00 PM

End Date

3-7-2017 2:15 PM

SupplementalDocuments_A Students Perspective.pdf (3060 kB)
Supplemental Document

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Mar 7th, 1:00 PM Mar 7th, 2:15 PM

A Student's Perspective on Poverty and Student Behavior/Responsibility in the Classroom

Ballroom E

Participants will be able to describe poverty, poverty in education, poverty in the classroom and have first hand knowledge of a student’s perspective on life in the school building. Many research studies have focused on school success in relationship with gender, ethnicity, race and culture, however, “poverty may be the most important of all student differences…” (Burney et al., 2008, p. 295).

Target audience: administrators, educators, boards of education