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Mentoring Matters for Elementary Principals: October

Leadership-life Fit:

BEFRIEND, rather than BEAT the clock! This Slideshare includes 8 suggestions for better managing time to improve your leadership-life fit.

Leading Learning:

“Building a Pedagogy of Engagement for Students in Poverty”

In an article in the September issue of Kappan, Paul Gorski, author of Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty: Erasing the Opportunity Gaps (2013), outlines key strategies to cultivate equality in education despite the influence of poverty.

Gorski describes the shifting demographics across our country and notes that many educators, unaccustomed to teaching low-income students, may not be aware that poor families have limited or no access to health care and recreational activities let alone the technologies that have become so ingrained in our school culture. The difference in who has access to such resources and who does not contributes to the widening achievement gap.

Although educators cannot eliminate poverty on their own, Gorski offers a number of practices that can help to mediate the influence of poverty. The first step, he explains, is checking our own biases: Do we believe poverty is an indicator of intellectual deficiency? We must believe that ALL students can achieve at high levels regardless of their circumstance.

Classroom strategies …
Set high expectations

Gorski recommends not only setting high expectations, but communicating those expectations through demanding higher-order thinking using inquiry-based models and collaborative practices.

Create schedules and structures that promote parental involvement
Making a variety of opportunities available to parents at different times will support them in being able to be involved in some way or other. Nurture parent relationships!

Incorporate arts into instruction
Gorski cites research correlating the exposure to music, theater, and art to increased learning, engagement, and retention for all students, and low-income in particular.

Incorporate movement into instruction
A child’s physical fitness is an indicator of how healthy he/she will be as an adult; however, for a number of reasons, many children of poverty experience physical activity and exercise only through school activities like physical education and recess.

Focus on students’ strengths
Rather than focusing on the deficits (i.e. poverty), focusing on students’ strengths will result in increased performance.

Analyze materials for bias
Oftentimes, materials depict poverty according to stereotypes. Surface these biases and eliminate!

System strategies …
• Advocate for universal preschool
• Attend to class size
• Connect with community agencies and resources
• Increase health services in schools

Gorski concludes by encouraging us to control what is within our sphere of influence to control.

Gorski, P.C. Building a pedagogy of engagement for students in poverty. Phi Delta Kappan 95(1): 48-52.

October/November Monthly Checklists:

These lists are intended as a guide and are likely not all-inclusive! Process in your mentor-mentee team to identify other items that need to be addressed.