By nurturing trusting relationships,
these educators were able to transmit
the necessary knowledge that enabled
Blanca and Terry to overcome disadvantages related to their social class
The practice of intervening to initiate
pivotal moments can be powerful and
transformative if implemented intentionally and systematically. There are several
key steps that educators who wish to
create pivotal moments should take.
First, it is important that educators
understand the unique social and economic obstacles certain students face.
Second, educators should be conscious
of the crucial role they play in students’ lives. They should understand
how mentors can play a key role in
helping low-income and minority students overcome obstacles to education.
Third, educators should make sure that
they are well versed in the academic
knowledge and skills that low-income
and minority students need. Such
knowledge might include information
on academic outreach programs, internship opportunities, support services,
and college admissions.
Schools can play a part through well-
planned professional development that
explains the importance of all three
components of a pivotal moment—
trust, mentoring and advocacy, and
transmitting academic knowledge and
skills. Schools should also provide con-
tinuous support and training for educa-
tors about pivotal moments. Students in
teacher preparation programs, as well
as those in counseling programs that
train and license school guidance coun-
selors, should be made aware of the
importance of pivotal moments. Aca-
demic outreach programs and nonprofit
organizations can also play important
roles in fostering early pivotal moments
to place students on the path to college
Roberta Espinoza is an assistant professor of sociology at California State
University, Fullerton. She is the author
of Pivotal Moments: How Educators
Can Put All Students on the Path to College (Harvard Education Press, 2011);
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