a personal note

Recently, I asked for feedback from my colleagues about this series of articles addressing how classroom management can be made more difficult for teachers who serve large proportions of students in poverty. I was told that my research is useless, that there is no correlation between poverty and students who struggle with behavior issues. Perhaps what I am attempting to do is truly without value, perhaps I am a fool for trying. 

However, Winston Churchill once said, "The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes."

I heard from some teachers who said they are tired of people thinking that just because a kid is poor, that kid is "bad." That is not my assumption at all, believe me! I was one of those kids who qualified for free/reduced lunch and my siblings and I were very well behaved in school. Also, I have taught very wealthy students who were far more disrespectful to me than my students in foster care, so I realize it is not fair, or accurate, or ethical to generalize that all poor kids are poorly behaved. 

I started this series of articles because I believe many leaders in our field do not address classroom management in tough schools, and urban/Title I schools tend to be some of the toughest. It has been very well documented that kids in poverty (extreme poverty) experience much higher levels of stress and this manifests itself in the classroom in a variety of ways. I agree that administrative choices are one of the significant factors in a teacher's ability to successfully manage a classroom. I am not offering excuses, as a matter of fact I think that it is a big mistake for adults to make excuses for students' behavior. 

My purpose in writing these articles is to raise awareness. Many teachers are struggling with classroom management and are being told that all they need to do is have great lessons and rapport for their discipline issues to disappear. That might work in some environments, but in others it simply is not enough. All of us are doing the best we can to serve our students, no matter where they come from. All of us have at one time or another struggled with classroom management, and I know I for one need all the help I can get! I am hoping to be able to provide some real world strategies for art teachers to get their toughest classes under control, wherever they teach. 

This blog was begun in the hopes that I could create a classroom management resource for art teachers because I didn't know of any websites specifically devoted to this subject. I had absolutely no idea how to create a blog, but I got some help and have been building it ever since. I am not earning money with this blog; I am not selling anything. This website is simply an attempt to help others, and the basis for what I write has its foundation in solid research. 

Pablo Picasso once said, "I am always doing that which I cannot do in order that I may learn how to do it." That has been one of my over-arching mantras for teaching as well as for this blog: I believe I never will reach a place where I can claim definitively to know what I'm doing. That is why I constantly seek to gather as many ideas from other educators as I can. I wholeheartedly believe in the value of collective wisdom. 

I am learning all the time from my colleagues: I believe each and every perspective is extremely valuable, as is this discussion about our individual teaching environments. If you teach in a high poverty school, affluent school, International Baccalaureate school, magnet school, public or private school, we all can learn from each other. What has worked for you? What hasn't? 

Thank you for listening, and thank you for sharing your perspective................whether you agree with me or not, I'm listening!

He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” Chinese proverb

"Even a blind squirrel sometimes finds a nut." Alabama proverb as told to me by my husband, native "Birminghamian"

article by Mrs. Anna Nichols

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