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Teaching with Poverty in Mind: What Being Poor Does to Kids' Brains and What Schools Can Do about It
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Teaching with Poverty in Mind: What Being Poor Does to Kids' Brains and What Schools Can Do about It

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  811 ratings  ·  115 reviews
Eric Jensen, author of Teaching with the Brain in Mind, examines how poverty hurts children, families, and communities across the United States and demonstrates how educators can improve the academic achievement and life readiness of economically disadvantaged students.
Published June 1st 2010 by Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (first published 2009)
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I have to chuckle when I read some of the reviews that state there is not much new in this book. I have observed in classrooms where the majority of students are from poverty and this information may be common knowledge (a fact wIth which I strongly disagree); it is definitely not common practice.

The biggest takeaway for me was the emotional keyboard that Jensen describes on page 18. Many educators are angered when struggling students don't display some of the characteristics that need to be tau
This book is AWESOME!

This is my second year teaching at a Title I school. (I also am active in serving the homeless community, and am a huge social activist when it comes to the rights of the impoverished.) I so wish everyone, everywhere, would be required to read even just the first couple of chapters of this book. The neuroscience involved is absolutely amazing -- there is a detailed, in-depth analysis of the effects of poverty on the brain beginning from the time of conception until when chil
Tammy Ward
This book is probably more of a 3.5 but I went ahead and bumped it up to four stars since I felt it was worthwhile reading. The book is written for administrators looking to make changes within their schools and to better understand poverty. However, it was beneficial to read as a teacher. I wouldn't say it was earth shattering information and of course it quotes tons of research which doesn't make for the most entertaining read. Here are my big takeaways:

- The brain of a child living in poverty
You ought to see the notes I took when reading this book! Our school district (and probably community) has a 50% poverty rate, so this literally 'hits home' for me. Our awesome HS principal had the staff read the book this spring and participate in book clubs. This summer we are fortunate enough to have a full-day workshop with the author. I think it will be life-changing for some of these kids if their teachers and school staff understand them better and use new methods to help them succeed. I ...more
Michele Fay
This is my second read of this book. Our former principal purchased a copy for every teacher and attempted to assign chapters with book discussions, but I don't know how many teachers read or discussed it. Now, a few years later, as a classroom teacher, I find the information all the more valuable. The descriptions of what a child in poverty experiences ring true for me when I think of children in my classroom. It also helps me to better understand the behavior of parents of these children and t ...more
Kenneth A. Mugi

Teaching with poverty in mind is a small book with a huge scope and a lot of heart. It explores what poverty is, how it affects academic performance, the mindset we (teachers) need to embrace for change, how schools and teachers should adapt for these kind of students and then walks the reader through the new paradigm by outlining a typical class. It is a rigorously researched resource that's easy to read and highly accessible for all educators who have been placed in the difficult positi
Kellie Ewilson
The part about baby's brains only being hardwired for 6 emotions stood out to me. Those emotions are joy, anger, surprise, disgust, sadness, and fear. Learning about the attunement process for children under 3 and their need to develop gratitude, forgiveness, and empathy was helpful in understanding why teachers really need to focus on these emotions for students with deficits in these areas.The emotional keyboard was a helpful image: sympathy, patience, shame, cooperation, optimism, humility, ...more
I read this book for a class. The discussions we had related to this book were so depressing. How can we effect change? There are so many things that need to be done to help our students. We need to completely overhaul the education system in America, we need to provide much-needed services to families living in poverty, we need more school counselors to help students. We need educators to understand the intricacies of poverty and how that affects our students walking in the door every morning. ...more
Sorry, I just did not find any earth shattering revelations in Jensen's book. It's all been said before! If you have never read anything about kids in poverty, then, sure, the book can provide a basic foundation, but if you have ever been in a position to work with disadvantaged, at risk kids, then every page feels like "duh, you think!" The suggested solutions were superficial and oversimplified. Jensen suggests throughout the book that teachers and administrators need to stop making excuses, e ...more
I read this book prior to Eric Jensen, the author, coming for a day-long professional development opportunity at one of the school districts I work with. I like the organization of the book; each chapter includes a theory/research section as well as an action steps section. It's a fairly quick read and not overly-researchy.

I think the author made 3 big points: (a) brains can change for the better (and for the worse); (b) there is a body of evidence about what strategies can impact student achiev
This is a good book for understanding what happens, and what can happen, in the brain as it relates to effective teaching and learning, with a specific focus on just what is known at present about the extra challenges of poverty to academic success. This is a good book not just for teachers and education administrators, but for anyone who has the ability to influence childrens' lifetime outcomes.

And I would just like to add that it appears particularly misguided (Ohio legislature) to cut arts a
For teachers and/or administrators.. I especially respect Jensen's message (paraphrased): Stop making excuses about your school's number of low SES students and your high number of ELL students. There are specific changes your school can make to outperform other schools/districts... regardless of demographics. Will it be easy? no. Will it take work? yes. Is it your professional responsibility to be accountable for educating even the poor? YES! Read this book only if you are committed enough to m ...more
Jenn Weidman
Teaching with Poverty In Mind articulates very clearly the problem of poverty in the Education System. The second chapter illustrates the complex of poverty and how drastically it can change an individual. The information given in this chapter needs to be presented in some form to as many teachers as possible. Poverty causes many different types of stressors on not only the students, but also their parents. Low income and standards of living effect children in many was. They could be lacking att ...more
Allison Manwell
I had the opportunity to read this book from a very critical perspective because I was a part of a book club that studied this book. Also, my practicum placement tied in perfectly, so I felt like I had experiences that I could use as examples and support of the text. Teaching with Poverty in Mind offers some great feedback for teachers who are teaching children in poverty, and it shares some useful strategies and ideas that at least give professionals something to think about.

I would not read t
Chris Perry
This book was an incite into the minds of adolescents in poverty and the situations with which they live in. It addresses ways teachers and schools can help change their instruction and systems of support to maximize the amount of education for the students. We have to first meet them on their terms, and understand their basic human needs before any real work can be done.

Not only that, but this book also showed some "Poverty Schools" that are in fact doing these things...and doing these things
Not necessarily groundbreaking, but I would recommend this book to anybody who wants to teach or is a teacher.

WARNING: This review isn't as serious as the subject matter at hand. Use caution and your sense of humor.

USES: Understanding why students do what they do, the effects of poverty, what we can do individually, and how to inspire others to shift their mindset.

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Lots and lots of research. And the feels.

INACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Redundancy. But you will never forget that poverty
Rob Murphy
This book should be read by anyone who work with students of poverty in any capacity whether they are teachers, administrators, division leaders, textbook publishers, care-givers or support staff. Whether you work with the urban poor or the rural poor, this book is a great read. Jensen begins with brain research, describing what happens to the brains of children living in poverty and then describes, in detail, and using research, what steps schools can take to help students overcome the challeng ...more
This was my first Eric Jensen book, so I wasn't entirely certain of what to expect. Throughout the book, I kept expecting him to provide more details on why/how students' differential brain development is more advantageous to their environment. However, that research is never fully explored. Instead, the book focuses on the more practical and immediate task of transforming poor students' brains into ones which can function in the social contexts of institutionalized schools. One additional note ...more
This book is by no means a waste of time. If you teach in a low-income area, it is a must read. It avoids the undesirable pity-tone many books on this subject exude and has some excellent information on best practices to incorporate into the classroom. It also gently points out erroneous perspectives many teachers have in regards to certain student behaviors. I found helpful insight regarding chronic stress disorder symptoms in students. Next school year I plan to tape a copy of the Emotional Ke ...more
Jul 24, 2011 Shannon rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shannon by: Michael Swartz
Shelves: 2011
I wanted so much more from this book. The pieces Jensen included on how poverty impacts the brain and how we can help upgrade students' processing systems was great, valuable stuff, but a few things significantly hampered the overall greatness of the book.

About 25% of the graphs and visuals didn't make any sense or weren't related to the data presented. The one that stands out most in my mind is a picture of a brain with a bunch of arrows pointing to different parts of the brain. But the arrows
For any educator looking to better understand the population they serve, this is the BEST BOOK I've read on the subject. Well written, well researched, and with real classroom applications. Incredible and well worth two read throughs!

Some meaningful quotes from the book -

"Poverty calls for key information and smarter strategies, not resignation and despair."

Poverty is defined as "a chronic and debilitating condition that results from multiple adverse...risk factors and affects mind, body and so
April Hochstrasser
This book made some good points about how to teach children who are raised in poverty. It opened my eyes about the effects of poverty on brain development. Low-income children share many characteristics. For example, they watch more TV than middle-income children do. Their parents or caregivers often have so many problems in their lives that they sit the children in front of the TV for a babysitter.

These children may live in unstable homes, parents may fight or divorce, and they sometimes don’t
Eric Jensen writes about how certain factors affect low socio-economic status (SES) young students and what schools can do to help these low SES students to overcome these factors. Jensen's writing appears to be grounded in research, educational theory and real schools. I found the writing to be realistic, not overly optimistic, and grounded. Jensen's book could have included more concrete 'how-to' action steps as it takes a reader on a journey of a school from a bad starting position to a bette ...more
I have a long-standing interest in the link between brain research and education. I took a fantastic class at Hopkins last year on "Brain-Targeted Teaching" specifically aimed at inner-city teachers. Jensen's book (although now published three years ago), likewise analyzes recent research on the effects of poverty on the brain and appropriate teaching methods to counteract those effects. Research supports things teachers already know (positive relationships between teachers and students lead to ...more
In the end, I loved this book and took many ideas to implement in my classroom. The essence of Jensen's argument is that our brains can change and there are really, really good reasons for student achievement and behavior. Teachers must create a culture in which each child's personal identity is affirmed and respected. I did not like how Jensen at times over generalized the relationship between poverty and academic struggle.
I really enjoyed this book, though what kept it from a five-star rating is the macro focus of the book (i.e., the school/administrator level) rather than at the classroom level. I was anxious to read the classroom focused chapter, but it still was focusing on all classrooms rather than what I can do in my classroom right now. I'm definitely interested in reading more of Jensen's work.
Anthony Moose
Until reading this book, I had no idea of the various levels of poverty and how it's impact had such a dramatic effect on a child's brain development. After reading this book, it helped me understand the actions of students from previous years teaching. It also helped me to prepare myself for future interactions with students affected by poverty and how I might approach situations from a different perspective. One important concept that has taken time for me to understand is that we have to lite ...more
I found the early chapters about the wide-ranging effects of poverty on students more interesting than the later ones, which had suggestions on what to do about it. While this has some good ideas, it's repetitive, dry, and for the most part, not particularly inspired. In my opinion, it would have been more inspiring as an article.
I did not finish this book, but I have given up - for now. It came highly recommended and I feel that it would be very applicable to my teaching situation, but it just isn't working for me right now. The content is just too dry and very "report like" for a bedtime read and that's all I have time for right now. I may revisit this in the future, but otherwise, I'm done.
Jensen's comprehensible six-chapter book has quite a lot in it! From "Action Steps" which can be applied in the classroom, to theory and explanations, to success stories from around the country, this book makes me feel like I can do a lot to understand where my students are coming from and how I can not only level the playing field, but help them succeed.
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“Some teachers may interpret students' emotional and social deficits as a lack of respect or manners, but it is more accurate and helpful to understand that the students come to school with a narrower range of appropriate emotional responses than we expect.” 0 likes
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