As the year moves into the last 3 months, students who struggle academically might be stressing out over what the last few months hold for them. These are the students who consistently come close to passing, but never quite achieve that goal of at least a C. These are the students who many times end up with the pity grade of D-. These are the students who have a difficult time schema building so permanent mental connections are rarely made. Many of these students want to succeed, but are close to giving up. So, what can teachers do to restore self confidence for these students?
Build in time within the class to have one-to-one conferences with each student. The successful students won't take much time, but the weak ones, those who need that one-to-one the most, will greatly benefit from that quiet time with the teacher to discuss progress on assignments. This precious time is time where the student has the teacher's undivided attention. Students really enjoy this activity (I do it regularly--great way to also keep a "finger on the pulse" of effectiveness of classroom instruction).
When teachers walk around the room looking at students as they work, they should look for evidence of struggling students making progress. When the evidence is presented that they have mastered a concept, teachers need to praise the effort, point it out to the student, and elaborate on what exactly they did that was good and why. A simple "good job" does not tell the student what he/she should repeat with future assignments. Also, this simple action boosts self-esteem greatly.
Differentiate assignments where ever possible. EDMODO allows this with ease. If technology is not available, teachers should try to create a bank of alternative assignments where the content is the same, but the measurement of mastery is slightly altered. So if it is an ELL, the assessment may use less complex language thereby making the assessment less confusing.
Building student self-confidence can be done. Once weak students start to believe that they can succeed, they will:)
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