Disrupting Poverty in School

This is one of several posts that I have to reflect on and share my learning from the sessions I attended at the ASCD #Empower17 conference.

One of the sessions that I attended at ASCD #empower17 wasn’t your typical session, because it was a movie screening! The authors of the book Turning High Poverty Schools into High Performing Schools, along with an ASCD film crew, have taken their research to create a video series that depicts high-performing, high-poverty (HP/HP) schools in action.

Here were my key takeaways from watching these clips:

Any high-poverty school CAN become high performing. How? You, and by “you” I mean ALL staff in the school, have to BELIEVE that it can happen. You have to BELIEVE that all students CAN achieve!!!

The top 3 important components of the leader in these schools focused on:
1. Safe and healthy learning environment
2. Staff Learning
3. Build capacity

School Culture Must have:
High expectations, along with the support for all students to meet the expectations, a commitment to equity and professional accountability for learning. When students don’t perform to expectation, teachers DON’T make excuses, rather look to themselves (and collaborate to problem solve) to try something else. Teachers are willing to take action and most importantly, have caring relationships with students.

Remember: Kids don’t know they come from poverty, so don’t talk about it! Don’t focus on the fact that they come from poverty. Keep your expectations high while meeting their needs.

Ask Questions:
Do you know your students? How well do you know them? Use your data to ask questions and dig deeper into what your students need. Don’t hide behind the averages in your data!

One of the major spheres of influence is family.  HP/HP schools not only reach out to families, but have the perseverance to keep doing so even if they don’t get responses. Once parents see how invested you are in their children, they will do what they can to help you.

The video also focused on the components of the framework that is fully shared in the book:

I was excited to hear that ASCD is working on an online streaming platform to be able to see these and many other videos and thinking about how this online resource could be beneficial for PD in schools?

I left this session also wondering the big question all leaders probably are…if the major key to taking a high poverty school to high performing is that ALL staff believe, then how do we get them all to believe?




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