10 Inspiring Quotes for Teaching and Engaging Students in Poverty

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In his book Teaching with Poverty in Mind: What Being Poor Does to Kids’ Brains and What Schools Can Do About It, seasoned educator and brain-based learning expert Eric Jensen explains that poor children can experience emotional, social, and academic success if they are offered a rich, balanced learning environment. He takes this idea further in his book Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind: Practical Strategies for Raising Achievement, where he argues that a positive, high-energy classroom environment can lead to academic success for economically disadvantaged students.Jensen Quote

Throughout these ASCD best-sellers, Jensen shares his own personal experience and real school success stories of low-income students reaching their full potentials. But what stands out the most in his books are the powerful, motivating words for educators who are faced with the challenge of teaching students living in poverty.

Below are 10 inspiring quotes from Jensen’s two books. You’ll find inspiration in these words as he reminds educators why it’s so important to motivate these students to succeed.

Teaching with Poverty in Mind: What Being Poor Does to Kids’ Brains and What Schools Can Do About It

  • “Encourage teachers to feel empathy rather than pity; kids will appreciate your ability to know what it’s like to be in their shoes.”
  • “When students feel socialized and accepted, they perform better academically.”
  • “You can’t change what’s in your students’ bank account, but you can change what’s in their emotional account.”
  • “When educators believe students are competent, students tend to perform better; conversely, when educators believe students have deficits, students tend to perform more poorly.”
  • “One of the most powerful ways to engage students is to let them take charge of their own learning.”

Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind: Practical Strategies for Raising Achievement

  • “A ‘no excuses’ mentality means that even if you believe it should be students’ job to be engaged, you accept that it’s your job to engage them.”
  • “Good teachers matter more than curriculum, the administration, or what students eat for breakfast.”
  • “For many students, school is an obligation, not a joy and a privilege. This means you need to ‘sell’ the learning to them.”
  • “Everything you get from your students—the rolled eyes, the excitement, the apathy, the big smiles—is feedback on your performance.”
  • “Your students’ life experiences are a rich source of background knowledge and potential narrative strategy for you to tap in your classroom.”

In addition to these books, ASCD recently released the Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind DVD series, which shows teachers how to successfully implement engagement strategies that are effective and practical. To purchase this two-video set, visit the ASCD Online Store.

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