Poverty and Learning

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Payne, Ruby (2008). Nine powerful practices.
Educational Leadership: Poverty and Learning, 65, 48-52.

In her article, Nine Powerful Practices, Ruby Payne gives teachers of impoverished, low-income students ideas and intervention techniques to raise student achievement. Her strategies mimic much of the current research on large populations of students who are living in poverty. Her nine strategies are as follows: build relationships of success; make beginning learning relational; teach students to speak in formal register, assess each student’s resources; teach the hidden rules of school, monitor progress and plan interventions; translate the concrete into abstract; teach students how to ask questions; and forge relationships with parents. Ruby Payne suggests that teachers take an understanding and therapeutic approach when educating impoverished students. She believes that their learned norms may actually conflict with school rules, procedures, and expectations. Therefore, she suggests that teachers are especially sensitive to the issues and challenges faced by those living in poverty.

A major strength of the article is that Ruby supports her nine practices with concrete examples from her own teaching experiences. She is actually demonstrating her seventh practice of ‘Translating the Concrete into the Abstract.’ In this section of the article Ruby states, “Mental models enable the student to make a connection between something concrete he or she understands and a representational idea.” A mental model is anything that puts a picture into the students’ minds – from a story to an actual picture. Through storytelling, Ruby has thoroughly explained her practices in the article. It is easy to agree with Ruby’s charge to form relationships with both the student and the student’s parents. Ruby believes that without a positive and working relationship with a student’s parents, it would be hard to accomplish anything. She also thinks that the most...
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