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Stephen, V. P. Varble, M.E. (1993).

Instructional strategies for minority


students
Clearing House, v67 n2p116-20

This subject of teaching urban youth is near and dear to my heart, I know that suburban
school districts are probably less problematic and that students are seemingly more apt to
succeed because that are not labeled, “disadvantaged.” My time is well spent as a teacher
in an urban school district that is why I chose this topic. I want to read all I can read, and
learn all I can learn to be able to service all students by whatever means possible. That
saying, “Nobody promised you a rose garden,” is true, because is teaching, it is a mixed
bag. Each semester, each day, you never know what will happen. People are different;
children are different, so it just makes sense to be knowledgeable about who they are, and
what it will take to reach them. If a teacher is not willing to what being a teacher has to
offer, this is not the profession for you. The authors of this article examine general
problems that plague urban minority youth and educators that continue researching in
search of an answer. They attempt to give some insight as to why we are losing so many
urban minority youths? What are some of the problems they encounter? What are their
school experiences and most importantly, what can teachers do to keep their learning
spirit alive.

In this article, through findings supported by renowned educational researchers, Stephen


and Varble uncover evidence that support teachers and administrators belief that urban
students are disadvantaged, unreachable, and uninterested, however all is not said
without explanation and remedy. Yes, our students are of low socioeconomically
backgrounds, which serve partially for why they have low self esteem and limited
educational experiences. According to the research of Riley, 1991 these behaviors are due
to the lack of family structure, homelessness and poverty. Many male adolescents fall
victim to gangs and crime whose lives are destine to end in prison or death.

The noted “at risk” students have been categorized as maintaining over 50% of the
dropout rate and statistics show standardized testing scores are not even close to their
white peers. Bloomfield, (1989) has determined that the illiteracy rate among African
American and Hispanics could be as high as 40%. Due to these astonishing findings, the
students of these cultural backgrounds have identifiable deficiencies that prevent them
from being eager and enthusiastic as they continue in school. It is said that they enter
school with an excitement to succeed, but because of the lack of confidence either by
themselves or teachers, they soon become disillusioned and discontent, so much until
they come to believe that are dumb, and are engrossed by a “cycle of failure and
despair.”(Knapp and Shields (1990).

This journal continues to assess the effect of how teachers view urban minority youth.
Means and Knapp (1991) concludes that having knowledge of the backgrounds of
minority youth will lead some teachers to segregate students from others by placing them
in low ability groups. Because of this action, academics and disciplinary problems are
more prevalent among them. Teachers have low expectations for students and

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consequently teach with less rigor and creativity. Handouts and repetitious handwritten
rote assignments that have little or no meaning is the bulk of their teaching style while
they fail to connect the lessons to the students real life situations. Varble and Stephens
believe that in order to reach minority urban students, teachers must use instructional
strategies that directly relate to their neighborhoods, streets, and issues, instead of
traditional literature and textbooks. Eggen and Kanchak suggest that teachers focus on
teaching from a constructivist style with the bulk of the instruction being student centered
and group work.

Group work is a valuable tool because it provides students a sense of responsibility and
ownership. Students feel less threatened and are not thrust into a competitive situation
while trying to learn. It evens the playing field and encourages participation. Student
involvements can be initiated on many levels that would help mend the “deficiency” that
has been recurring in urban minority students.

Stephens and Varble end by listing several assessments and tools that students can use to
grow and improve in their academics and have less time to think about dropping out.
They are suggesting the use of portfolios, student-teacher conferences, student-peers
evaluations, self evaluations, exhibitions, video presentations and interdisciplinary
teaching team’s evaluations. According to Parkey and Smith (1983) teachers can work
together to provide flexible guidelines and instructional methods to meet the students
need and empower students enough to help them survive in the classroom and succeed.

This article for me was truly worth reading and I advise anyone that plan on working in
an urban school district to read it. It offers teaching strategies as well as insight into the
many unanswered questions one might have. As teachers we think we know our students
and the one that don’t fit the mold, we feel that they are in less need of our service and
we tend not to reach past our understanding of “student learning.” Because our students
are under resourced in many areas of life, we tend to under serve them and think nothing
of it. We must learn to infuse the curriculum with their familiarity and interject learning
with what interest them so that they can feel education is going to benefit them. This
research of the problem just scratches the surface of the real underlying challenge of
educating our children. This article is really caused for us to reflect on who we are as
teachers. I like the challenge of working with students that people believe have no cause.
It is very rewarding to me when I see how students improve on their and attendance and
actually like coming to school. I need to see them succeed in order for me to feel my
worth. I use many of the strategies mentioned in the article, and I would like to do more,
to build self esteem and insure them that what they are learning will benefit them. The
authors of this article gave great examples in integrating the curriculum and infusing life
connections, as well as supplying enough information for teachers to share among
themselves. Stephen and Varble have explored so many alternatives to help educator s
under the needs of urban students, along with lessons and strategies that teachers already
use, but can improve on to make learning more conducive to the student. I am convinced
that knowing better will enable teachers to do better.

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Scott, J.L., Teale, W.H. (2007) Effective literacy instruction urban children: voices from
the classroom. The Reading Teacher, 63(4), 338-341

In this article the discussion of the needs of urban learners is placed first and foremost.
Authors Teale and Scott (2009) clearly examine the views of experienced literary
educators. Their teaching practices have undergone action research and implementation
in their own classrooms and many across the nation. One of the teacher researchers,
Diana Cory’s writing and word knowledge practices have become popular in classrooms
throughout the country. The discovery that minority students were not just Hispanics and
African Americans was the result of the by Mona. She found that Asians, low-income
Caucasians,’ Africans, and students of the Middle East are becoming a part of inner-city
school districts. Rather than focus on the socioeconomic as to why these students are so
dispirited, they collectively saw a need for more teacher involvement. First it was
believed that teachers are not familiar with who their students are. Mona felt that this
was one of the gravest unmet needs. She says that teachers do not take into consideration
what the actual needs of the students are, but find it easy to just label the students
unmotivated. The teachers were asked to address five issues that would provide insight
into what are effective literary practices. Among the answers were needs of urban
learners, principles/theoretical framework for literary teaching, literary practices
evaluating outcomes and change. Scott and Teale then noted the commonalities and
differences found among teachers.

Neshelda’s research included problems being the lack of support, lack of student
exposure, and change in attitudes. Her findings was that emotionally, urban students are
not being met with compassionate support and that teachers are not looking at the
students’ individually and cannot communicate a genuine concern,, and therefore can’t
help the student move past emotional issues that they must deal with at home. Secondly,
She felt that they weren’t being exposed enough to positive environments. She says that
exposure is a key ingredient in changing a child’s misconceptions of school into a more
positive attitude. Mona took the attitude that all teachers should take and that is to
believe that all children have ideas, words and voice that can be developed effectively
through writing. The drawback to this is that if the writing doesn’t meet the teacher’s
approval, they may be negatively judged.

The three educators agreed that the framework for literary teaching should:
• Accelerate student achievement to the greatest extent possible.
• Appreciate the critical role of a diverse literary-rich environment in the
motivation and attitude of children
• Employ a range of language and literary teaching and learning strategies that are
explicit and systematic to ensure both confidence and competence.
• Deliver instruction that is hands on, differentiated, fun and creative, a most all
relevant.

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• Employ constructivist principles that see students and teachers as partners,
allowing students to play a role in identifying what they can do with the
information.
For each part of the framework, the author’s have provided strategies that would answer
some of the many questions that have been continuously asked, “What changes are
needed to move us toward pedagogy of success for urban learners?”
Clearly all three of the teacher researchers felt that teachers need professional
development to help enhance the knowledge of teaching urban students. They are
stressing that administrator’s dialogue with teachers, instead of forces mandates and
pushing papers that merely make suggestions. Unfortunately, this happens without their
knowledge because many of them surprisingly know little of what goes on in the
classroom. As I continue reading and learning more about the needs of urban students I
will do my best to enlighten my colleagues in hope that we will eventually began to
practice what we are learning.

Hanushek, E.A., Rivkin, S.G. (2008) Do disadvantaged urban schools lose their best
teachers. Calder National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education
Research. Brief 7 1-6

Assuming that I believe that urban school districts also have low functioning teachers, I
have decided to read this article because it actually answers how low ranked teachers end
up in low achieving schools. Authors Hanushek and Rivin began this research in a
Texas school system on the strength that parents, administrators, and policy makers
(authors of NCLB) believe that the key to a good education is teacher quality. Is teacher
quality based on salary, education, experience or student outcomes? What makes a
teacher effective? It was also found that policies that determined the effectiveness of
teacher performance were not that accurate. Teachers have been known to select their
school of choice. According to Dolten and van der Kaauw (1995-1998) school choices
are not based on teacher effectiveness, but some teachers tend to prefer schools with
higher achieving, higher income students in addition to higher salaries. On the other
hand, the 2006 study by Scafidi, Sjoquist, and Stienbrickner, showed that teachers that
left the public schools did not transition to higher paying jobs outside of teaching, but
preferred taking a lower paying position at a private school because they felt it offered
job satisfaction and teacher retention. Teacher retention is very important for the climate
of a school, however, no matter the salary, some teachers are not interested in dealing
with massive behavior problems, low or no parent involvement, and students that are
“disadvantaged.” They would rather not work hard to retain students or have no evidence
of students making gains in reading and math. In many instances, teachers would rather
not come to work to “work hard,” but to hardly work. Ideally, every student would be on
task, make gains, behave like angels, and love to be at school. Unfortunately, that is not
the case, and many school districts will never be the case. Many teachers will seek to
teach in districts that are exempt from enrolling students that have been overlooked and
have inadequate resources, and for that reason, authors Hanushek and Rivin conducted
research to report on the validity of teacher quality and how it is distributed among
school districts. They began by estimating the variation of teacher value. The main
objective was to get a model of what teacher distribution looks like by using alternative

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estimation approaches. It was found that estimation of quality within school has less
obstacles, but cannot provide information or between school differences, but provided
evidence from the point of view of district-wide and within schools. The findings lead
them to depicting sort vs. non-sort. Sort is to divide schools into a sample that sorts
students into a classroom in a selective way. In sorting is was found that teacher
distribution showed a student achievement 0.2% higher escalating the student 8
percentile points in achievement distribution. In the non-sorted sample, there was a
reduction of 15% where classroom achievement was rejected in each school within the
school estimator showing a slightly higher standard deviation, but the change from the
full sample and from the other as explained by the authors.

In closing, research proved that teachers that left the Texas public schools are less
effective in comparison to their colleagues in the same grade regardless of school average
achievement or proportion black. To answer the question, the leavers are the negative
teachers that didn’t have much to offer in the first place.

I hate to say, but many teachers are not willing to work hard to engage students in
learning if it involves thinking or working outside of their comfort zone. Disadvantaged
urban schools do not lose their best teachers, because according to the research, it overall
support the fact that teachers are willing to take a cut in pay, just to have the classroom
where the socioeconomic structure of a family is not first and foremost the reason for
failing students. Good teachers want to work at what is arguably noted as good schools. I
feel that teachers that are dedicated to the profession of teaching don’t mind accepting the
challenge of making sure students are making gains no matter the cost. Many times
teachers accept jobs in urban areas because the pay is heightened and good teaching is
not always what gets the person hired. They will commute long distances to get to bad
neighborhoods, and even visit the students’ home and not care a lick if the student can
spell or add. Many Caucasian teachers accept jobs in urban areas because they want to
be the one that helps the “poor little black children.”

The article was an eye opener, and I hope that the teaching profession once again attracts
teachers that really care whether or not their students succeed in life. After all, the
student’s season for learning what the need to know to help them get to the next level is
up to a teacher.

Chapper, M., Downey, A.C., Hanger, S., Riggin, M. (2010) Democratic education: in
through the out door. Perspective on Urban Education. p. 125-127

This is one of the most profound articles I have read throughout my interest in teaching
youth in urban schools. The four writers’ of this piece are educators from the West
Philadelphia school district that have earned doctrine degrees in education as well as
what they call “ a significant amount of time” studying schools and describe to readers
the meaning of “democratic education.” I don’t know if this is a new buzz term, but it is
a new term for me. They define democratic education as,” the idea that all members of a
school community play meaningful roles in determining what is learned and how.” As a
result of trying to make meaning of this struggling school system, the researchers made

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the decision to explore the relationship between the where and how of teacher education.
They believed that