Why Am I Just Learning This Now?

10:24 am Professional Growth

Those of you who know me know that I am not a person who likes to be in the middle of controversy.  In fact, I tend to move to the outside of a circle and just listen and think while discussions are being lead by those who feel strongly about the subject.  A couple of weeks ago at the Instructional Leadership Conference, I heard one of the keynotes, Dr. Ruby Payne speak.  She began her presentation by letting us know that her thoughts were the subject of many controversies. I heard her say, “Just Google me and you will understand what I am talking about.”  Usually that would be a turn-off for me and I would move to the other outstanding speakers - Todd Whittaker, Marcia Tate, etc. – for the rest of the day. However, since she was the keynote, I was obligated to stay for the rest of that presentation.

By the end of the keynote, she had “hooked” me.  I had to see where she was going with her thoughts. And so the 2nd session was spent with Dr. Payne. As the second session began, I came to realize that a great majority of those in the keynote had returned also. I heard them saying what I was thinking, “Why, in my 27+ years of teaching had I never been presented these thoughts?” I could pick out students in my past who would have benefited from my having this knowledge.  I felt strongly this was the key to reaching many of the students I have involved with today.  I spent the rest of the day with Dr. Ruby Payne and came back to Weber School District planning to share with others what I was feeling.

When I was back in the district, the first thing I did was to Google Dr. Payne and read the other side of the story.  What I read made sense in light of her critics view points.  But, what I felt in what I had heard made real educational sense to me.  I felt she offered tools to help me work with students whose point of view regarding life and education might be different than mine. I had understood from her that “Poverty” was not just financial but actually came wrapped in nine different packages. I did not spend time focusing on the “literal” meaning of her work but focused on the “educational tools” she was presenting for my use. 

For those reasons, I encourage you to look at some of Dr. Ruby Payne’s work, Understanding Poverty and Under-Resourced Learners. Her website is   www.Ahaprocess.com

I have taken a few of her concepts and am using them at Two Rivers as I visit with teachers.  Call (801-476-3906) or e-mail ( skamp@weber.k12.ut.us) if you would like to know more.

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