Urban education: How teachers can make a difference (2023)

You may not spot any schools while walking around major city centers, but that doesn't mean all schools are hidden in the suburbs. In fact, 30 percent of public school students and 43 percent of private school studentsgo to classes in urban areasevery day.

"All kids need the same skills and knowledge, but when we think more deeply about urban education, we dive in and think about what that context means for students," says Sara Ewell, Northeastern's principal.Doctor of Education Programand professor of the School of Education.

Although each urban school has its own unique context, there is often overlap. Here's what you need to know about urban education and how to best prepare to work in this space.

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Urban class

As more families with the means to move out of cities take the opportunity to do so, the share of poor, nonwhite, and English language learnershas increased.

"Urban public school systems, because of the history of segregation and racism in the United States, overwhelmingly serve students of color from low socioeconomic status families," says Shaunna Harrington, associate professor and dean of faculty for Northeastern's.Master of Arts in Teaching program. "Low-income children often have additional needs in the classroom."

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These needs can include everything from support for children who have been exposed to violence to free or reduced meal programs for those who would otherwise go without breakfast and lunch.Chronically underfundedBut it has made it harder for teachers to meet those needs — and created a pervasive idea that urban schools are automatically "less than," Ewell says.

"It is approached with a lack, as if there is something wrong with these children, families and teachers," he continues. "When we use the term 'urban education,' we're really just looking at the unique aspects of each of those contexts and what we can do to better meet students in those spaces based on their needs."

To best address these needs, educators must focus on the factors that make urban education so rich and complex and how they can work with their communities to help students succeed.

Thoughts on urban education

Learning about some of the unique aspects of urban education can help you better prepare for effective leadership within it. Some of the most important aspects to consider are the rich multiculturalism of city schools, their often limited resources and the possibility of working in an unfamiliar environment.

Wide variety

In the 20 largest urban school districts in the US, the average80 posto studentsthey are not white, according to National Education Center statistics, meaning that urban classrooms are more likely to have a different mix of students.

"A high percentage of our teachers are white, and a high percentage of them are women," Ewell says. "In the urban classroom, you often encounter multiple languages, cultural norms, and racial biases, so it's important to recognize diversity and use culturally relevant classroom strategies to meet the needs of each student."

Ewell notes that while respecting each student's background and perspective is important regardless of where a school is located, it can be especially important in urban schools, where teachers and students often come from different backgrounds.

(Video) College of Urban Education develops teachers for urban schools

Limited resources

During the COVID-19 pandemic,43 positionof urban district leaders surveyed by Education Week said they could offer all students online learning opportunities, and only 12 percent of urban teachers said families attend in-person classes — even though physical materials can be the only way for children without reliable internet connections your studies.

"We need to be really aware of the disparities in the way public education is structured in the United States," says Harrington.

With this in mind, without slipping into the assumption that urban schools are worse than suburban or rural schools, teachers are better equipped to address the challenges of underfunding.

Moving to new places

Although many teachers who choose to work in urban schools have personal experience in similar environments, many adapt to the new.

"We have to be really aware of our own social position in terms of understanding our relationship to different kinds of privilege," Harrington says.

This means taking the time to understand how your own experiences have shaped your perspective and howthe context of students' lives— their families, neighborhoods, cultures and communities as a whole — have influenced how they approach education. Teachers who understand and recognize any resulting differences can be better prepared to work with the school community to effectively support students and meet their specific needs in the classroom.

Influence on urban schools

Many strategies can help practitioners influence their students, continuing across all subjectscooperation,community, Mecautionwhich Ewell and Harrington emphasize in their classes.

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Check your mindset

Because inner-city schools are often labeled as troubled or flawed, educators must fight the idea that they are coming into schools to save them. One way to achieve this is to constantly look for opportunities to collaborate and learn.

"It's a mutual relationship where you bring content expertise, but your community brings contextual expertise," Ewell says. "Learn as much as you can about your students and families and ask them what they need."

Similarly, Harrington recommends paying attention to any unconscious biases you may find within yourself and how your own experiences have shaped your way of thinking.

"Move to an asset-based perspective and recognize the different assets that families and communities can bring," she says.

Use culturally appropriate teaching

Ensuring that your teaching materials and curriculum reflect the diverse backgrounds of students is another way to increase your chances of success in urban schools. Accordingmore studies, representation really does matter—and its continued lack could signal to students that they don't matter.

Review the appculturally sensitive teaching strategies, such as reading stories about characters from similar backgrounds to your students and encouraging students to use their own experiences when making sense of the information.

Culturally responsive teaching can also mean working with English language learners who do not have the same understanding of the language as their peers.

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"We have a higher number of English language learners in our urban neighborhoods, although in Massachusetts it's more and more statewide," Harrington says. "Teachers should have the skills to appropriately adapt curriculum resources and instructional strategies to meet the needs of these students."

Northeast difference

northeasternDoctor of Education (EdD) program.is based on experiential learning that encourages students to immerse themselves in urban school communities. Research typically involves conducting field interviews, conducting field research, and other in-depth learning based on real classrooms around the world.

“All of our courses are designed to get students out into the community, even if it's not during class time,” says Ewell.

Along with a commitment to the experience, Northeastern also emphasizes the importance of cultural understanding in the classroom. Harrington notes that the state of Massachusetts has made it a priority to prepare certified teachers who can work with culturally, linguistically and economically diverse students, seamlessly supporting Northeastern in the university's efforts to do the same.

"There's a framework of reflection, justice and action that's really woven into all of our lessons in a very intentional way," she says.

The northeast also offersuniqueMacFarland Scholarshipfor young students working (or intending to work) as public school teachers at the elementary or secondary level in an urban area. These students are eligible to receive a scholarship of up to $20,000 to help provide financial relief so they can continue to make an impact in urban education.

Learn more about achieving yoursDoctor of Educationthrough Northeastern's online and online programs.

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Urban education: How teachers can make a difference? ›

Key strategies include providing contextually rich and varied activities/assignments, focusing curricula on the local environment, involving community and family in educational activities, and taking advantage of urban resources such as museums.

What are three teaching strategies are effective in urban classrooms? ›

Key strategies include providing contextually rich and varied activities/assignments, focusing curricula on the local environment, involving community and family in educational activities, and taking advantage of urban resources such as museums.

How can teachers make a difference in the community? ›

Teachers educate the next generation and therefore impact society as a whole. They also, through safeguarding and pastoral care, help the next generation develop into well rounded, caring, ethical, young adults. Young adults who, themselves influence those around them.

What do students need from teachers in urban school settings? ›

Students in urban schools need dedicated teachers who respect children and youth, who actually believe they can and will learn if properly taught, and understand the types of homes and cultures from which the children come.

How can we make urban schools better? ›

The most promising strategies for urban districts attempting to help inner city students break the cycle of school failure, unemployment, and social disintegration will (1) build capacity at local school sites; (2) provide school autonomy and flexibility in designing and implementing improvement plans; (3) take a broad ...

What are 3 ways teachers can promote an effective learning environment? ›

13 Ways to create a positive learning environment in your classroom
  • Build positive relationships with students and parents. ...
  • Foster student connections. ...
  • Outline classroom rules for positive behavior. ...
  • Use positive reinforcement. ...
  • Ensure content is culturally relevant. ...
  • Keep a positive mindset.
Mar 11, 2022

How can teachers build communities of knowledge? ›

How to Build Community in the Classroom
  • Create human values for learning. ...
  • Co-construct behaviors around these values. ...
  • Build culture and climate with goals. ...
  • Develop a shared conflict-resolution language. ...
  • Establish SEL routines. ...
  • Play around with routines during SEL mini-lessons.
Jul 23, 2021

Can a good teacher make a world of difference? ›

A good teacher can make a world of difference in a student's life, impacting everything from their classroom learning to their long-term success. If you're considering a career in education – or looking to boost it with a Master of Education (MEd) – it's important to explore the qualities of a good teacher.

How do educators help to change the society? ›

Education shapes the skills, attitudes, and beliefs of the individual and plays a role in shaping the norms and values of a particular society. These values eventually define the community structures people build, the goals they strive for, and how they help advance global development.

What is the role of teacher in improving the society? ›

Teachers provide the power of education to today's youth, thereby giving them the possibility for a better future. Teachers simplify the complex, and make abstract concepts accessible to students. Teachers also expose children to ideas and topics that they might otherwise not have come into contact with.

How teachers can benefit from communities of practice? ›

They: Educate by collecting and sharing information related to questions and issues of practice. Support by organizing interactions and collaboration among members. Cultivate by assisting groups to start and sustain their learning.

What are two major issues in urban schools? ›

A common problem

Urban schools typically are associated with low test scores, high dropout rates, and higher absenteeism or tardiness when compared to suburban districts.

What are the challenges of teaching in urban schools? ›

They include 1) persistently low student achievement, 2) a lack of instructional coherence, 3) inexperienced teaching staff, 4) poorly functioning business operations, and 5) low expectations of students (Kincheloe, 2004, 2010; MDRC, 2002).

Why is urban education important? ›

Summary. Urban students typically gain greater overall access to education, receive a higher quality education, and outperform their rural counterparts. This “urban advantage” varies across countries, but is present in both the developed and developing world.

What makes urban schools different? ›

On average, students in urban schools have lower achievement scores (reading, writing, mathematics, and science) than their counterparts in suburban schools. Student behavior problems in the areas of absenteeism, classroom discipline, weapons possession, and student pregnancy are more common in urban schools.

What are some characteristics of urban schools? ›

  • The school has a student population above 5,000,
  • The school has more than 60% students of color,
  • The school is more than 65% economically disadvantaged ,
  • The school has more than 11% of English Language Learners,
  • The school has more than 15% students with disabilities,

How do you engage and support urban students? ›

Allow opportunities for mingling and course-related socialization. Provide opportunities for students to teach/tutor each other. Record the analogies, words, and examples that students use in their own conversations in order to incorporate them into future lectures and assignments.

How can teachers promote diversity in the classroom? ›

How can you Promote Diversity and Multiculturalism in the Classroom?
  1. Get to Know Your Students. ...
  2. Maintain Consistent Communication. ...
  3. Acknowledge and Respect Every Student. ...
  4. Practice Cultural Sensitivity. ...
  5. Incorporate Diversity in the Lesson Plan. ...
  6. Give Students Freedom and Flexibility.

How do teachers promote cultural diversity? ›

One way teachers can honor cultural differences is by letting students from different cultures be the expert. Teaching other students about traditions, explaining the history and geography of countries and regions, and sharing cultural experiences are some ways to let these students know they are valued and welcome.

What strategies will improve teaching effectiveness? ›

Assessing and improving teaching
  • Self-reflection on teaching. Self-reflection is the cornerstone of a healthy, effective teaching practice. ...
  • Gathering student feedback. ...
  • Collaborating with colleagues. ...
  • Assessing student learning. ...
  • Hybrid and online course assessment. ...
  • A guide to best practice for evaluating teaching.

Why should teachers build classroom community? ›

Research shows that when students feel that they belong to their academic community, that they matter to one another, and that they can find emotional, social, and cognitive support for one another, they are able to engage in dialogue and reflection more actively and take ownership and responsibility of their own ...

How do teachers connect students to the community? ›

Be ambitious and outward-looking—use the local environment and community as hands-on learning resources and encourage parents, community organizations and businesses to bring their issues to the school. Take students out into local wild places and community venues, and invite community members into the school.

Why is it important to build a strong classroom learning community? ›

The classroom provides a unique environment for children to experience peer relationships and to create their own community of learning. A strong classroom community is one in which students feel empowered and valued, and one in which children will ultimately thrive.

What makes a good teacher vs a great teacher? ›

A Good Teacher is the one who explains once. A Great Teacher is the one who explains again and again until she is sure her purpose has been served. Good Teacher teaches. A great Teacher forms strong relationship with students and show that they care about them as people.

What makes some teachers better than others? ›

The reason that some teachers are more successful than others is because they have recaptured their love of educating. They are able to understand the needs of their students and to present just the right mixture of cultivating, exemplifying, and even entertaining the mind.

Do teachers have a unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students? ›

Teachers have a unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students. They interact with these learners every day, helping them discover new and important facts and ideas. Teachers are directly influential in a student's life—it's an important reason why many people choose to become teachers.

What is the greatest impact as a teacher? ›

Teachers have a very significant, lifelong impact on all of their students. This impact involves not only the teaching of particular academic skills, but as importantly, the fostering of student self-esteem. Reinforcing self-esteem in the classroom is associated with increased motivation and learning.

How can teachers make students feel valued? ›

How to Make your Students Feel Valued as Individuals
  • Get to Know your Students. Getting to know your students can be difficult for teachers who see a lot of students every day. ...
  • Listen to them. ...
  • Be Consistent. ...
  • Reward and Encourage Them.

How can teachers motivate students? ›

Positive Outcomes

Give verbal praise for successful progress or accomplishment. Give personal attention to students. Provide informative, helpful feedback when it is immediately useful. Provide motivating feedback (praise) immediately following task performance.

How can a teacher create social environment in the classroom? ›

Make sure children have opportunities to get to know each other and engage when in groups, including snack and meal times, to promote interactions. Create activities that require children to work together and share materials. Provide visual supports to promote social interaction and independence.

How do teachers change the world? ›

Teachers inspire young people to overcome obstacles.

Maybe they are victims of poverty. Maybe they wrestle with a learning disability. Whatever the obstacle, teachers can help them. According to one study, 54% of students said they received help from their teachers during a difficult time.

How can effective teachers change students lives? ›

Teachers can be the most-trusted source for advice for weighing important life decisions. Educators build students' confidence, inspire creativity, encourage higher education, invite exploration, and encourage competition in events students might not otherwise have thought to do.

Why teachers are important in our life? ›

Why are teachers important in our life? Teachers impart knowledge and guide us in the right directions. Our life would definitely not be the same without dedicated teachers who selflessly work in order to make our lives better.

What are the qualities of good teacher? ›

The Top 14 Qualities that Make a Good Teacher
  • Adaptability. Adaptability is a must for teachers, who need to continuously evaluate what's working for their students — and even more importantly, what isn't working. ...
  • Empathy. ...
  • Patience. ...
  • Engagement. ...
  • Active Listening. ...
  • Lifelong Learning. ...
  • Free of Bias. ...
  • Respectful Attitude.

Who is a teacher in simple words? ›

A teacher, also called a schoolteacher or formally an educator, is a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence, or virtue, via the practice of teaching. Pedagogy, subject knowledge; competence in teaching the subject, in curriculum, in learner assessment; psychology; planning; leadership.

Why should teachers collaborate with the community? ›

Collaboration builds healthy peer relationships among teachers and provides teachers with the emotional support they need to excel in their jobs. Collaboration encourages the use of technology to help teachers connect with one another. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of technology in education.

Why is it important to connect your teaching to the community around the school? ›

This empowers students to take learning into their own hands, while enhancing engagement with parents, families and the wider school. School communities are a powerful way to build a sense of connectedness and belonging and improve educational and teaching outcomes within a school.

What is the role of a teacher in a community essay? ›

They are the ones who build a good nation and make the world a better place. A teacher teaches us the importance of a pen over that of a sword. They are much esteemed in society as they elevate the living standards of people.

What are the biggest issues in urban education? ›

Moreover, urban educators report the growing challenges of educating urban youth who are increasingly presenting problems such as poverty, limited English proficiency, family instability, and poor health.

What are 5 urban challenges? ›

The problems associated with urbanization are: High population density, inadequate infrastructure, lack of affordable housing, flooding, pollution, slum creation, crime, congestion and poverty.

What are the pros of going to a urban school? ›

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of attending school in a city is the wealth of arts and culture that is available. While rural settings are not devoid of culture, urban environments have so much to offer students with a wide variety of interests.

Why is urban inclusivity important? ›

Competitiveness and productivity in cities increase: There is more interaction between stakeholders in a more inclusive and well-integrated city, which increases productivity and economic growth across all communities. There is a positive correlation between inclusion and economic health in US cities.

Why is it important for school leaders at urban schools to learn about the communities of their students? ›

Knowledge of the community in which the school leader serves is advantageous when building relationships and collaborating with parents, community members, and stakeholders who have a vested interest in the success and academic achievement of students within the community.

What is the advantage of urban area? ›

High transportation facilities. More education opportunities. Recycling process. Internet connections will be available.

What are three 3 types of learning strategies? ›

The three basic types of learning styles are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. To learn, we depend on our senses to process the information around us. Most people tend to use one of their senses more than the others.

What are the three types of learning strategies? ›

There are three primary types of learning styles, as defined by teacher Neil Fleming: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Most people learn best through one or two of these methods, but there are ways to use all three learning styles to your advantage.

What is the three two one teaching strategy? ›

A 3-2-1 prompt helps students structure their responses to a text, film, or lesson by asking them to describe three takeaways, two questions, and one thing they enjoyed. It provides an easy way for teachers to check for understanding and to gauge students' interest in a topic.

How do you ensure effective teaching and learning? ›

List of teaching strategies for primary school
  1. Know Your Pupils and Develop Their Respect. ...
  2. Appropriate use of Summative and Formative Assessments. ...
  3. Teach the Vocabulary. ...
  4. Explicit Instruction. ...
  5. Effective Questioning Techniques. ...
  6. Deliberate Practice. ...
  7. Differentiation. ...
  8. Reinforcing Effort/Providing Recognition.

What are the 7 areas of learning? ›

We'll now take a brief look at each of these 7 areas and why they are important.
  • Communication and language development. ...
  • Physical development. ...
  • Personal, social, and emotional development. ...
  • Literacy development. ...
  • Mathematics. ...
  • Understanding the world. ...
  • Expressive arts and design.
Sep 3, 2016

What are the six most effective learning strategies? ›

These six strategies for effective learning are based on evidence-based research and the science of learning. We will explore: spaced practice, retrieval practice, elaboration, concrete examples, dual coding and interleaving.

What are the four powerful learning strategies? ›

This week, we feature a roundup of the four most powerful tools to boost students' long-term learning, backed by cognitive science research: retrieval practice, spacing, interleaving, and feedback-driven metacognition. How do you use these four strategies?

What are the 4 techniques of learning? ›

The four core learning styles in the VARK model include visual, auditory, reading and writing, and kinesthetic.

What is the most powerful strategy for learning? ›

The most effective strategy according to Dunlosky's research is practice testing. It consists of studying and reviewing by answering questions and actively bringing information back to mind. When this is done, information is reconsolidated, new connections are created, and memory and understanding are strengthened.

What are the 5 traditional teaching strategies? ›

Strategies such as mnemonics, explicit teaching, direct instruction, spaced practice and purposeful practice share many elements with traditional rote and drill exercises.

What are the 5 approaches to teaching? ›

What are the 5 Pedagogical Approaches?
  • The Constructivist Approach. The constructivist approach is based on the concept of constructivism. ...
  • The Collaborative Approach. ...
  • The Reflective Approach. ...
  • The Integrative Approach. ...
  • The Inquiry-Based Approach.

What techniques strategies and methods promote student learning? ›

Establishing the Optimal Learning Environment
  • Having compassion and empathy. ...
  • Creating a secure and dependable structure. ...
  • Ramping up the positive. ...
  • Supporting academic risk. ...
  • Teaching active listening. ...
  • Embedding strategy instruction. ...
  • Building collaborative relationships.

What is one strategy that teacher used for classroom management? ›

One-on-one Interaction

The best individual classroom management strategy is having one-on-one interaction with your students. Teachers can sit with each student and ask them some basic questions to understand how they are learning in the class, such as: How do they feel about the particular lesson?

What are some specific teaching strategies? ›

Student-focused teaching strategies
  • Gamification. Classroom gamification is an effective way to take a child's love for play and turn it into a love of learning. ...
  • Convergent and divergent thinking. ...
  • Project-based learning. ...
  • Experiential learning. ...
  • Peer teaching. ...
  • Inquiry-based learning. ...
  • Problem-based learning. ...
  • Reciprocal teaching.
Jan 4, 2023


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