Region 8 teachers learn how poverty impacts students - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Region 8 teachers learn how poverty impacts students

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

HOXIE, AR (KAIT) - Families who live in poverty struggle to provide basic needs like clothing, food and shelter.  This isn't something that we usually talk about or even think about unless we know someone who is affected.  Teachers at the Hoxie Elementary School are getting an eye opening education this year about their students.

"We are such a low socioeconomic school district we wanted to make sure we were giving our teachers every tool that they needed to reach the population in their classrooms," said Elementary Principal Tim Booth.

"73% of our students in our school receive free and reduced lunches," said literacy coach Tracy Gates.

Teachers, counselors and administrators at the elementary level are doing a book study on poverty.

"How their brains are affected by growing up in certain poverty situations and how those things can be overcome," said Booth.

"The students have to have their basic needs met before we can teach them," said Gates.

To ensure they covered everything they have to, Booth said they had planned to cut some field trips and other things out.  Learning more about poverty and the impact it has on students has changed that.

"They may be asked to write about something in the classroom that they may have no background knowledge of," said Booth.

"We can read a book about going to a dairy farm or a petting zoo, but unless you get to feel it and touch it and see it yourself it really doesn't make an impact on that child," said Gates.

This study is helping teachers understand their students and how different aspects of poverty affect them inside the classroom.

"As we read and discuss something it will bring to mind a particular student that they have," said Booth.

Booth said some teachers have made minor changes that are really making a difference in their classes and are asking themselves what else they can do.

"Every day, every year things change socially economically the way kids learn and the way kids are growing up," said Booth.

As they work to mold the lives of students, teachers are also experiencing a real change.

"I know it will make a difference in lots of our teachers because they're not going to forget the things that they've learned," said Gates.

The book, Teaching with Poverty in Mind is the first book study the elementary school has done as a whole.  After the success they've had with this book, Booth said he would like to do another study next year.

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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