People do not know it by looking at you, but there is a question that anyone could ask that would unleash that answer.

That answer which tries to encompass all the gratitude, and pride, and determination which pulled you out of a poor circumstance and is the very reason you are an educator.

That answer, the impetus of who and where and how you teach. That answer which hints at your mission to lift up students to their next level of potential.

[Tweet “People do not know it by looking at you, but there is a question that anyone could ask that would unleash that answer.” Teachers who know what poverty is about…]

How do you know the steps to prescribe to  students to remove themselves from poverty? Because you have travelled this path already.


Sometimes because you have experienced a successful outcome, because in hindsight you can point to the few experiences and/or people who advanced you along your advancement, you justify your means by their ends.

You could easily be rash and force the issue with some students, when the measured approach can be better in the long run.

You can push to be the one force which makes the difference for every student. Just because you have a childhood commonality with a student does not mean you can reach that student – anymore than your manner of teaching works for every pupil in your classroom. However, no matter the style/approach differences you can be candid about your background and be a role model to any student who desires one.


We have a debt to repay, but only the students who pass our way to repay. We should repay the debt when we can, but we cannot force the issue. We cannot be the one who informs a student they need saving from their family situation. We can never tell a student there is anything wrong with one/both of their parents, because that parent is a part of them.

When we examine the way we can help we need to remember that we can be a long-term supporter of any student. We can offer the stability which might be most missed in a childhood. We can be a role model that a student returns to during advancing developmental stages. Outside static milestones do not rush the process of repaying your debt. Know that some students do not require as much from you while others yet to come might require more than you can deliver alone.


I have felt good when I made a small repayment on the help I received, but I do not think I will ever feel like what I have given is more than what I owe.