Tonight I attended a Poverty Simulation with my school colleagues. Although I had attended the same simulation several years ago when I worked for a non-profit healthcare agency, I saw things with new eyes tonight. I teach in a fairly affluent suburban district. However, my school is on the edge of the district and is therefore more diverse ethnically and socio-economically. We are a Title I school with about 20% of our student population qualifying for free and reduced lunch. Poverty is a reality for many of our families. My hope is that this experience is not a one shot deal. My hope is that we go back to our building tomorrow and start having those really frank conversations about how we can become more supportive and welcoming to families in crisis. I really think our staff needs to do this in order to meet the needs of all of our students. I am anxious to have conversations about requiring families to provide teacher gift money, field trip money, classroom supplies, a daily snack for their child, and the never ending fundraisers. I also think we need to rethink family involvement. I am a strong believer that schools need strong family relationships in order for students to be successful. I am also a strong believer that we need to teach parents how to support their children academically. We need to hold family reading and writing nights and demonstrate how to do a family read aloud. We need to have family math nights and have families play math games with their children. I truly believe that schools need to help families give their children the support they need. We need to help parents develop strong bonds with their children. We need to provide families with links to community resources. And more than anything we need to suspend all judgement of families who don’t seem to measure up to our middle class family ideals. We need to assume that all parents, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status love their children and want the very best for them.