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Monday, October 12, 2009

Poverty Simulation an Eye-opening Experience

While the students enjoyed a day off of school, staff members from Linda Jobe Middle School participated in an exercise designed to give them a glimpse into the lives of some of their students who live at or below the poverty line.

The Jobe Middle School staff took part in a poverty simulation experience based on a program by the Missouri Association for Community Action where "participants role-play the lives of low-income families, from single parents trying to care for their children to senior citizens trying to maintain their self sufficiency on Social Security."

The task of each family is to provide food, shelter and other basic necessities during the course of four 15-minute "weeks" while interacting with various community resources.

The community resource volunteers in this simulation included Mansfield ISD administrators and support staff. Resource volunteer roles included a police officer, utility collector, pawnbroker, grocer, mortgage/rent collector, Quick Cash manager, social service caseworker, Community Action worker, employer, child care worker, schoolteacher (played by school namesake, Linda Jobe), faith-based agency staffer, and a bank/loan officer.

The experience
After the simulation, the staff "families" held a debriefing period during which participants shared amongst themselves and the larger group their thoughts about what they learned and specific impressions on the exercise.

A few of the insights shared by the staff included:
  • Most of us were doing what we could just to make it.
  • Many people are victims of circumstance.
  • I was scared to death of losing my job.
  • It was a rough experience.
  • We didn't know what to do, but we wanted to do the right thing.
  • Thinking about the children in class and their families, it became apparent how challenging it must be.
  • This was such a learning experience.
  • Children with no food will have a difficult time just sitting quietly at home or learning in school.
  • Unexpected circumstances can have a directly negative impact on the classroom experience.
  • Feelings of helplessness are a reality for many.
The facilitator stressed how this program was a simulation and not a game. It was a simulation tool used to help participants view poverty from different angles in an experiential setting. The object was to sensitize the staff to the realities that are faced by low-income students and their families. Linda Jobe Middle School teachers had a small taste of the frustration and challenges that are everyday experiences for some students.

Linda Jobe Middle School staff members are invited to provide any additional feedback from the poverty simulation via comments.

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S. Gaston said...

If you have never participated in a simulation like this, I encourage every principal on any campus with children that fall into this category to offer this experience to your staff. This simply touched my life and changed how I will reach out more for my students - because you just never know!

Rev. Sheila Fiorella said...

I have nothing but praise for the staff of Jobe who took part in this simulation. We can never know exactly how it feels, but it's always good to try to walk in another's shoes to try to gain better understanding of another's life situation. You now have a glimpse of what some of your students and their parents have to experience every day. I hope it proved to be an eye-opening and valuable lesson. Thanks for taking part!

Elaine said...

Way to go Mr. Liggins for creating opportunity for your team to gain fresh perspective. Greater compassion and understanding is sure to follow, which in turn will foster a more nurturing learning environment. Measuring success now goes way beyond academics. Hooray for all of you!
Elaine J.

Anonymous said...

I have never enjoyed a staff development more!! Not only was the activity engaging for all the teachers but the impact it had on me as a teacher is profound!! The variables we must evaulate as a teacher are vast but the element of humanity and understanding is the one constant all teachers must have!!
Angie Small

Anonymous said...

Had a good time. The program was insightful and gave a different prespective that I haven't given very much thought. I started thinking of students, and this program helped relate my life in the program to theirs. It was very eye opening and beneficial. - Jinkens

Anonymous said...

WOW, what an eye-opener! Quite often we do not realize what challenges our students face in their personal lives and how those challenges can affect their school lives. I am so pleased to be under the leadership of such a great leader as Mr. Liggins, who not only makes us work hard for our students but also makes us “care hard” and understand them as well. This training is one that I will never forget.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever had a training session that you could point to and say, “That training made me a better teacher”? Well neither could I…until yesterday’s Poverty Simulation. This was a powerful experience that made me reflect upon my stereotypes, prejudices, and ignorance to certain populations that I teach. I went home and called everyone I know to tell them about it. I was moved to tears and will never be the same again …I will be better.

Anonymous said...

Teachers and administrators through out Texas should be given the opportunity to experience this life changing activity. We should also engage in a nationwide dialogue on how to serve students and families that are facing economic hardship.

Thank you to Mr. Liggins and Mrs. Kunschik for providing us with this humbling experience and to the MISD’s administrators for their support.


D. Liggins said...

This experience was indeed one that I thought would be most appropriate and beneficial for our staff. We have a very talented faculty that truly cares about the success of every child that enters our building each day. Success, however, cannot be achieved without building relationships and knowing our students beyond their academic abilities. This simulation gave us insight as to how to better understand ALL of our students in order to provide them with the best learning environment possible.

However, without the willingness of central administration personnel and community volunteers, such as Mrs. Linda Jobe, to assist us, this simulation training would not have been possible for our staff. I think my sentiments are echoed by our staff, teachers, parents and students when I say "Thank you for enabling us to have this life changing experience."

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed participating in the poverty simulation. I have lived in Mansfield for over 15 years and have seen families of my students adversely affected by the changes in our economy. Through this training we were given a snap shot of the challenges they face each day. Programs like these help keep things in perspective as we work with our students and their families to help them achieve their best.
~M. Flores

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking into account single parenthood. This is a tough role I play on a daily basis and not many people take into account what a hard job this is - especially when receiving no child support and no visitations from the other parent.

shelley said...

HOW AWESOME! many simulations are truly life changing...YOU ALL are to be commended for caring enough about your students to walk in their shoes...YOU WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THEIR LIVES!

Windy Savarese said...

This Touched me in a most personal way and I can't thank Mr. Liggins enough for reminding us that we are not just teaching, we are saving lives.