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A Framework for Understanding Poverty


Students in poverty often face challenges not truly understood to those in middle class or wealth. These challenges bring out a survival mentality and turn attention away from opportunities taken for granted by everyone else. Those who work with students in poverty will benefit from an understanding of the profound differences in mindset among economic classes.

Dr. Ruby Payne’s “A Framework for Understanding Poverty” provides key concepts and the mental models crucial to addressing challenges faced by students from poverty. It also offers practical exercises, charts, and specific strategies for putting knowledge into action.

The 10 action steps covered in the workshop include:

– Build relationships of mutual respect
– Teach students the “hidden rules” of school
– Analyze individual student resources and identify interventions based on those assets
– Teach formal register - the language of school and work
– Teach mental models to give students tools to grasp abstract ideas
– Teach abstract processes to support academic success
– Teach students how to plan

– Use an assertive adult voice and reframe messages to change behaviors through rational thought and reflection
– Understand family resources and dynamics
– Teach students question-asking skills

The benefits of these action steps apply to all students. Educators who have the tools to address the effect of socioeconomic class broaden and deepen student success.

For more information, contact Noalee McDonald-Augustine at NMcDonald@smokyhill.org or 785-621-4414.