After sharing a poverty and education webinar with St. Clair R-XII School District faculty, Superintendent Kyle Kruse hopes to better serve students in the future.
Ruby Payne is a known researcher and educator for her work on the culture of poverty and its relation to education. Kruse said her webinar explains how to help students in poverty map out their future or “Create a future story (as) she calls it.”
There are separate “hidden rules” for those in poverty, middle class and those in prosperity, according to Kruse.
“The rules are different in each class,” he said. “So what you learn in generational poverty, those rules don’t necessarily work in middle class, and in middle class, those rules wouldn’t necessarily let you survive very well in poverty.
“She (Payne) talks a lot about that and how to bridge between the classes as far as helping kids in poverty find a way out,” he added.
In the webinar, Payne states that kids in poverty are under the impression that they have to follow the same path as their parents or caretakers.
“They work under the assumption that whatever difficulties their parents had or their caretaker had that’s the track for their life too,” Kruse said. “You have to actually help them broaden the horizons and start planning towards different goals.”
Although St. Clair is not a poverty-stricken community compared to inner-city situations, Kruse said some students live in what is considered generational poverty.
“Part of our job is to help (students) see what their future could hold and talk about those ‘future stories’ of where they’d like to live and what they’d like to do for a living,” he said. “Then work backwards from there to establish almost a plan, a time line of things to do to get from here to there.”
Kruse added that timelines have to be specific and not assumptions.
By sharing this webinar with faculty and staff, Kruse said he hopes there will be more professional developments about how to help students who are in poverty situations and how to teach students to bridge the gap between where they are now to where they would like to be in the future.
“I think we’ll incorporate some of those concepts as we go forward,” he said.
Additionally in her webinar, Payne suggests incorporating student work in teacher evaluations.
“Strangely enough, that’s not an emphasized component in most teacher evaluation systems,” Kruse said.
Making sure teachers give quality assignments ties in with the high school’s Intensive Care Unit, which was implemented this fall. All faculty, coaches and administrators have access to the ICU database and can monitor it on a daily basis.
“Now teachers with ICU are seeing other teachers’ assignments, it raises some questions about ‘hey are we are always giving quality assignments?’ ” Kruse said. “Maybe we should incorporate more reading and discussion, and writing, and maybe we shouldn’t be doing word searches and crossword puzzles and other assignments that are not quite as academically challenging.”
The ICU program was created to help freshmen complete and turn in assignments. The high school is part of an ICU database that keeps track of every missing assignment among students submitted by teachers.
When a student’s name is on the list, an automatic text message and two emails detailing the assignment are sent to their parents.
Teachers will inform students of the missing assignment and they have one day to get off the list. If students fail to do so, ICU teacher Paul Codespoti will pull them aside to finish their work.
The data collected from the ICU database will be helpful when planning new curriculums, giving out assignments, as well as with the transition of new teachers and how they set up their classrooms.