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Bullet holes in the windows and walls, constant fires, fears for your personal safety: this isn't a description of a war zone but of one teacher's experience of working at a school in a deprived part of New York City.

During an #edchat on the difficulty of attracting high-quality teachers to severely disadvantaged areas, @cybraryman1 shared his story, saying that "nothing, not even my army training, prepared me for teaching in the inner city".

He struck up friendships with custodial staff and secretaries, who filled in the bullet holes. Students set fires so regularly that a "joke circulated that firefighters should be on [the] school payroll".

It's clear that despite the huge strides made in inner-city London, the picture isn't so rosy in many comparable school systems around the world.

Resources were a problem for @amybrowns: "Never thought copies would be an issue till I taught in Chicago." She also talked of wearing her winter coat indoors every day when a window was broken, adding that people didn't understand how hard teachers worked to combat such adversity. "Critics will say `Your scores only rose one point', not knowing how hard it was to get that point."

Results were pinpointed as a factor that potentially put teachers off applying for jobs in deprived areas. @jthouston remarked that "test scores at high-poverty schools tend to be low". This was challenged by @edTechAlex, who asked, "Do teachers really apply to schools because of high test scores?"

Results may well be an issue, @turnerhj insisted, since there "has been a long history of criticising the work of teachers in high-poverty areas".

The personal downsides of working in a disadvantaged school were highlighted by @blairteach, who pointed out that "many schools in high-poverty areas are also in high-crime areas". @loveandwldhoney agreed: "If teachers choose to teach in high-poverty areas, more than likely they will need to live there or in close proximity. A deterrent?"

Ultimately, the fact that teachers would have to battle against factors including poor nutrition, disaffected parents and low funding before any learning could take place seemed to be the sticking point for many. @DennisDill noted that "poverty is more than a dollar value.It is a state of mind", while @tomwhitby said, "Until we deal with poverty as an essential issue, education will never improve, no matter who the teachers are."

Sarah Cunnane

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