The first 'thing' on Ned's list really resonated with me. Currently working at two different schools (as an LTO), I've noted that even though they're in the same district, they couldn't be more different in the needs of the students. My morning school is in an affluent part of town, whereas my afternoon school is in an area with subsidized housing and is noted as 'low income'. More students in my morning school come in clean clothes, having eaten breakfast, and are ready to learn. Students in my afternoon school are often wearing clothing with small tears, shoes that don't fit, or have improper winter clothing. Many have little in their lunches and are often hungry and tired by the time I get there. As often as allows, I make a pit stop in the breakfast club and bring some snacks with me to their class. It is on these days that I see the biggest improvement in the attention and motivation of students. I need to remind myself that if basic needs aren't met, it's not necessarily the student's fault that he can't pay attention.
I know we can't fix all of the problems that students face, but let's work on the ones that we can :)
*This isn't specifically Math related, but certainly benefits a Math classroom.