The challenges faced by poor urban schools are many, from lack of funding to a poor academic environment and poor leadership. Despite the challenge, some solutions can be implemented to help schools improve. One solution is using alternative pathways into the teaching profession and increasing teachers’ professional preparation and development. Another is an affirmation of the cultures of students.
Alternative Pathways Into The Teaching Profession
Some states have opened alternative pathways to recruit qualified teachers for poor urban schools. These programs allow students to earn a teaching license while simultaneously obtaining a job. These alternatives offer shorter training periods and lower tuition rates than traditional programs. However, there are several limitations to alternative routes.
Alternative certification programs differ from traditional ones because they don’t involve field-based study or practicum. Instead, they integrate classes, workshops, and professional development efforts from colleges and the state education department. The programs also involve a higher degree of screening and testing.
Most states have a pathway for alternative certification. Some of these programs require a bachelor’s degree, but most are designed to meet the needs of non-education majors. They can take between one and two years to complete, and a master’s degree is usually required for completion. Teaching in urban schools to correct educational equity imbalances is the main focus of urban education masters. Similar to medical residencies, these programs provide intensive training in the basics of excellent teaching.
Increased Professional Preparation And Development For Teachers
Teachers must learn how to teach diverse students fairly to give students from disadvantaged backgrounds the tools and opportunities they need to know. Yet, educators often face resistance to change.
This study’s practitioners designed PD sessions for 47 elementary teachers in southwest Virginia. They conducted five training sessions over ten weeks. During each session, teachers participated in a survey about their beliefs and practices in teaching students from poverty. Results were analyzed using an action research design.
Researchers collected demographic and fiscal information about the schools. The schools were from the Renfrew and Lewis school districts in southwest Virginia. Approximately half of the students at Renfrew were low-income students, while at Lewis, nearly half of the students were African American. Both schools had 38%, white students.
The results showed that all the interviewees shared common concerns about the challenges that students from poverty face. However, they differed in their learning goals. For example, teachers at Renfrew felt less united about fostering learning than at Lewis.
Increased Pay For Teachers
The issue of teacher shortages and inadequate compensation is a significant concern to educators. The problem is complicated. It is exacerbated by the fact that teachers in high-poverty schools face an additional disadvantage in terms of pay.
According to data released by the National Education Association (NEA), the average teacher salary in the United States has remained mostly flat since the 1990s. Furthermore, it has declined in nearly half of the states.
While some states have responded to the growing need for more educators by increasing salaries, many other states still need significant investments to address the base level of their teacher workforce. This is especially true for schools with the most complex staffing challenges.
In addition to addressing the salary gap, policymakers should consider other strategies to increase teacher compensation. For example, districts should explore bonuses for additional work, housing subsidies, child care, and stipends for leadership and expertise.
Affirmation of Students’ Cultures
In high-poverty urban schools, teachers are expected to handle various complex and unpredictable situations. The physical conditions in these environments, the work they are expected to do, and their relationship with families and the community influence their work. Affirmation of students’ cultures is significant in these circumstances.
Affirmation is essential for motivation and academic performance in all students. It can reduce stress and enhance resilience in stressful situations, but research has shown that it has a broader impact. When students are affirmed, they see themselves as valued school community member. This increases their sense of belonging, and it also increases their persistence.
In high-poverty urban schools, a lack of affirmation can have serious consequences. Studies have shown that affirmed students tend to perform better on academic tests. They also demonstrate lower rates of violence and substance abuse. Moreover, proven students feel more connected to their school and experience less racial tension.
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