Communicating Effectively Across Poverty Barriers

When I was in school, the language and examples used by my family were much different than the language and examples that were shared in the classroom. This communication gap made it harder for me to learn and to achieve to my full potential.

Research has shown that people who live in the crisis of poverty, much like me, communicate differently than their teachers and their middle-class peers. How we get our information to live our daily lives shapes how we relate to one another and how we experience the world. People who get their information verbally or by asking someone, have an “oral” culture communication style. People who gain their information from reading develop a “print” culture communication style. Most people in poverty are oral culture communicators. Understanding and balancing these different communication styles can help teachers create a more inclusive school climate–one that improves learning outcomes for their students by reducing misunderstanding and increasing effective communication.

In this TeachingPartners Live Workshop, I explore the impact that communication styles can have on students’ life experiences, and I provide a framework for improving communication and relationship skills between teachers and students. You will learn about the differences in communication across social class and develop concrete tools for building stronger relationships and communicating more effectively with students and families who live in the crisis of poverty. You will also identify your own dominant styles for communicating in the classroom.


Lynda Coates

Lynda Coates is a Gold Star Speaker with Communication Across Barriers (CAB), a national consulting firm that provides training and keynotes that empower professionals who assist people with moving out of poverty. Lynda has a Master’s Degree in Co... Full Bio