Today, school resumed after the winter break. Some students will be enthusiastic about the return due to doing well academically while others fear a repetition of a poor academic performance in the second half of the school year. Since the successful ones will probably continue to be so in their classes, they will not need the teacher's attention as much as the strugglers. It is this second group that this blog is dedicated to:)
How can teachers motivate students who may have given up on succeeding in school? Though there are many resources out there to offer ideas on this topic, I have selected the one that seems to be the easiest to implement for any teacher. The techniques addressed here are those that I have used for years and I can guarantee that they do work with some patience on the teacher's part. After all, because the changing of instructional approaches is occurring in the middle of the school year, teachers must have students change old habits. This may make the weaker ones a bit uncomfortable, but it IS for their own good.
To boost student self-confidence, they have to believe that changes will lead to a passing grade (or higher). There are several avenues teachers may pursue to that end. First, students have to receive specific feedback on what they are doing and how well they are doing it. Simply saying "good job" does not tell the student what specifics s/he got right so that s/he will know what to repeat in the future. Make the praise genuine. This validation is very effective in improving student performance.
Differentiate the learning goals since not all students learn at the same speed. Through slightly adjusting lessons based on student ability, teachers will see more active participation. This leads to increased student engagement and that is a win-win for everyone.
Call on students randomly. We sometimes tend to call on the students who have their hands in the air, but those are the students who already know the answers. What about the silent "majority"? Randomizer apps are available for all smart phones. If technology is not available, use playing cards or sticks with names on them. The results are the same--no one know who will be called on. This suspense leads to more student engagement in the class because they know that they will be held accountable for learning.
Be enthusiastic about teaching your subject. Enthusiasm can be infectious:) Try one-on-one conferences once a week with students. The weaker ones may need two minutes. All students truly seem to enjoy that special time to have all of the teacher's attention. For teachers, it provides time to truly get to know the student.
Just some ideas to offer hope to students who are struggling:)
Have a great first day back with your students:)
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