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Making a Difference for Teens Experiencing Homelessness Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach Guidance Statistics Specialist Virginia Beach City Public Schools Adjunct.

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Presentation on theme: "Making a Difference for Teens Experiencing Homelessness Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach Guidance Statistics Specialist Virginia Beach City Public Schools Adjunct."— Presentation transcript:

1 Making a Difference for Teens Experiencing Homelessness Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach Guidance Statistics Specialist Virginia Beach City Public Schools Adjunct professor College of William and Mary

2 What I wish my Teachers had known… Ashley O. – 18 year old senior Honor student at a math and science magnet Recipient of Richard Maddox Scholarship of $40K Will attend Longwood and become a teacher Homeless now and most of life

3 Who are We? How many of you teach homeless of at- risk children in a classroom? How many pre-service teachers? How many service providers to the homeless? Who else? Why believe me?

4 A Wise Man Once Said… That what you are in life has not so much to do with what you have accomplished… but the obstacles you overcame in doing so. And so begins my story….

5 The Cycle Parents trapped by poverty usually raise children who also become trapped by poverty.

6 Highly Transient Teachers need to hit the ground running. Often mobility means no significant relationship with an adult. Build relationships – yours may be the only significant, stable relationship with an adult that student ever has.

7 Unsympathetic Crticisim Emotional Trauma = Low Self-Esteem Crave attention and the need to belong Desperate for “good girl/boy” and approval Give them a reason to work hard for intrinsic rewards. If they came to you from the desert—needing water– would you withhold it from them to help them learn?

8 Motivation to Learn Severely damaged self-image causes shut down at criticism. Can’t deal with criticism as a way to self- improvement. Learn to isolate the behavior from the person and look for opportunities to give specific praise. Government story

9 Motivation to Learn Build self-confidence and positive self- concept Self-esteem and Self-control are closely related Establish relationships Prepare for the next transition Use a 4 to 1 strategy

10 Bias Against Homeless So many misconceptions Lazy Lots of free time Get a job if they wanted one Never got asked to spend the night Shelter Rat Make it a crime to be homeless Camping Congregating Sleeping beach

11 NCH- Website “It is estimated that a fifth of year olds will experience homelessness at some point in their lives.”

12 Unaccompanied Youth Living in runaway shelters Living in abandoned buildings, on the street, or in other inadequate accommodations. Couch surfing with friends Denied housing by parents School age Unwed Mothers

13 Self-Fulfilling Prophecy You are the voice framing at-risk teens abilities. You are the expert. We are often teaching these teens less than they are capable of learning. Rules are more important than breakthroughs (since circumstance often prevents being able to comply with rules– reinforces negative self-image) Back to basics… have to master this before you can move forward… Teachers give up– if you approach a problem as unsolvable 9 out of 10 times it will be.

14 Water Downed Expectations “What hurts us more, is you teach us less.” Haycock (2001) says… “…we take the students who have less to begin with and then systematically give them less in school.” And then we call it best practice…or differentiation.

15 Teaching Strategies that Work Best for Homeless Kids You are a living textbook Do like Dewey When you have kids of high poverty in your classroom you are not just teaching content anymore– accept it. Marva Collins says… “Teacher inabilities are as prevalent as learning disabilities.” Sheryl adds “… and sometimes in direct proportion.”

16 Hidden Homeless Ashley hid her homelessness because she didn’t want to be different I hid mine because of fear of what my Mom would do if I told. Students in temporary situations are hard to detect and therefore hard to reach

17 Possible Things to look for… Persistent fatigue- (Jimmy’s story) Frequent absences Dirty or repeated clothing Inability to complete homework Hoarding food Sudden changes in behavior Tell too much

18 At Risk 16/17 year olds who leave home after the breakdown of family relationships. Teens experiencing martial breakup or split with boyfriend/girlfriend. Teenage substance abusers

19 What I do with At-risk Teens Moral Warehouse Othermindedness Self-government Self-esteem (blossoming) Choose friends carefully Hard work gets noticed

20 Involving homeless parents or at-risk adults: Teacher attitudes Welcoming school—have a plan Meaningful involvement So how do we overcome the barriers?

21 Needs of the At-risk Parent Ruby Payne- Hidden Rules Like vs. Learn In your face vs. policy and issues Food Did you get enough? Did you like it? Beautiful presentation

22 Here are some of the things at-risk parents need you to help them understand… Help me understand “dress for success” Help me with interpersonal skills Give me some marriage/parenting tips- to break the cycle… modeling Family-focused programs with a possible two generation approach to education

23 Here are some things at-risk parents need for you to understand That our family roles are lost and distorted due to my circumstances and often family traditions you take for granted are nonexistent. Need someone to not misunderstand our survival decisions… someone who could detach from judgments. Need someone to understand… I love my kids. I want them to succeed.

24 Recommendations Acknowledge students’ growth wherever they start. Ask if it is a poverty issue that is holding them back. Praise success. Reflect on your own bias. Recognize poverty as a diversity issue and not a defect. State the obvious. Even if you think everyone knows. Be approachable. Don’t assume students will come to you for help. Call them by their first name.

25 Recommendations Diversify your curriculum and make it relevant to more than just your middle class students. Include experiences of the poor in your examples. Use concrete more than abstract. If your students can’t learn your subject– it is your problem and your responsibility.

26 Recommendations Know that not everyone shares middle class expectations. Help connect teens with services– recommend them for scholarships—get them in AP classes. Use policies to serve people and not to punish and exclude them. Rethink rules. Encourage further education more than low-wage jobs. Help at-risk teens to see possibilities. Understand that the poor may be intimidated by school. Change their perceptions. Uncover secret codes– teach them how to dress, talk, and speak in middle class environments.

27 Man is so made that whenever anything fires his soul, impossibilities vanish. -- Jean de la Fontaine


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