Dr. Anael Alston @DrAAlston talks about common misconceptions that educators have about students in poverty. Born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn, Anael “Dr. A” Alston is an award-winning educator and serves as Superintendent of Schools of the Hamilton Central School District in Hamilton, NY. Prior to that, he was the principal of the Robert M. Finley Middle School in Glen Cove, New York and principal of Great Neck North Middle School in Great Neck, New York. Dr. A is passionate about leadership, service, and all things public education.
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In today's show, we discuss how teachers should approach teaching students who are in high-poverty situations. This is important because Anael argues that many thoughts about students in poverty are off-base. In today's show we discuss:
- The mindsets and attitudes students need for success
- How educator expectations are an essential ingredient of student success
- The importance of relationship with students
- Anael's advice for what teachers should do daily to adjust their thinking and prepare to teach students from poverty or any difficult situation
I hope you enjoy this episode with “Dr. A.”
Selected Links from this Episode
- Anael's Twitter handle @DrAAlston
- Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/draalston/
- Baruti Kafele https://twitter.com/PrincipalKafele
- Book: Closing the Attitude Gap by Baruti Kafele
Download Transcript: Episode 24 Dr. Anael Alston
Dr. Anael Alston
Born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn, Anael “Dr. A” Alston is an award winning educator and serves as Superintendent of Schools of the Hamilton Central School District in Hamilton, NY. Prior to that, he was the principal of the Robert M. Finley Middle School in Glen Cove, New York and principal of Great Neck North Middle School in Great Neck, New York. Dr. A is passionate about leadership, service, and all things public education.
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As an 8 year veteran of urban Title 1 schools and a 2 yr veteran if rural Title 1 schools, I would add a few things. First, rural and urban poverty are very different. I had trained myself to see the signs in an urban setting but they look so different in a rural areas. Several of my students lived in abject urban poverty but most of them had a floor in their apartment and had plumbing, even if the water was turned off. In rural poverty situations, this may not be the case.
Secondly, it takes so very long for children with chaotic lives to trust you, sometimes longer than you have. Any violation of that trust damages that relationship far longer than you would expect.
Third, it also takes incredible amounts of time for kids in poverty to say thank you. The first kid that validated the hard work I put in my first year teaching in a Title 1 school came to me about 4 years later, after dropping out and working to get his GED, to say thanks. Parents are often at their wits end to and rarely say thanks. They have little to give emotionally or financially.
Lastly to that very tired teacher, tomorrow is another day, a day to cherish for it’s opportunities. As incredibly difficult as today seems those kids know that you care, even if you lost your cool, even if they got sent to the office, even if someone went to jail. The worst days I’ve had teaching have become some of my best learning experiences and funniest stories… It may have taken years but perspective changes. You are making a difference, every single day.
Wow Kasey! This is so insightful and moving! Thank you so much for taking time to add to the conversation!
Thank you for this post. As a new teacher working in an urban Title 1 school, I have to teach many students who are known to be “at-risk” or from low incomes. For a handful of these students, I have had many many days when I was frustrated and worried about how I would be able to teach them. While I strongly believe in holding my students to high expectations, sometimes this belief becomes difficult. However, it was refreshing to hear Dr. Alston’s thoughts. I will follow his advice and practice the short meditation pieces on Monday. It was nice to have him reassure that even if some of our students might not act like it, we are important and integral in their lives. I believe that teachers need to hear these positive thoughts every now and then, to keep us going.
Thank you for your honestly Ilma. Keep up the great work! I think his advice on quiet moments is a great one!