FULTON – Administrators, teachers and support staff members in the Fulton City School District recently participated in a powerful professional development opportunity.
Facilitated by the Center for Instruction, Technology and Innovation, 88 FCSD employees engaged in a poverty simulation activity designed to highlight the financial struggles that some families endure and to help staff members gain a deeper understanding of the issues that influence a student’s actions.
As part of the 45-minute role-playing activity, staff members assumed the part of a family that was facing financial hardship.
Participants received information about the family’s circumstances and each “head of the household” was given an envelope containing a list of available resources (benefits card, cash, bus transportation vouchers, etc.) They had to utilize the limited resources while attending to the needs of their family.
“Our staff has the theoretical knowledge and some strategies that we have really embraced over the years, but this is the first time we have done a poverty simulation,” said Geri Geitner, FCSD director of student support programs. “By the final week in the simulation many people were out of money and out of resources. It was an emotional experience.”
Although the activity was a simulation, Geitner noted that the issues are very real for many people and that poverty and family struggles can influence a student’s behavior in the classroom.
“We have to be compassionate and supportive in helping our students develop the skills they need to address the barriers they face,” Geitner said. “Having more insight into what may be motivating them will help us respond more effectively.”