Sunday, November 8, 2015

Academic Lifesavers For Struggling Students:)

Wow!  Is it November already?  The Halloween sugar rush is over finally so hopefully students are happily on task with their assignments in the classroom.  Students may also have started the countdown to winter break.

As the semester begins countdown to the winter break, some students may begin to stress out over grades.  They will beg the teacher for options to pass.  What is a teacher to do?  If students are truly motivated and parents are fully supportive, teachers can do several things.  This newsletter will offer some suggestions on motivating such students to pass with grades of C or higher.

First of all, teachers should not promise a student a passing grade immediately.  Sitting with the student privately before school, lunch, or after school is often the best way for the student to not risk embarrassment.  Often that one-to-one time will help the student open up about his/her difficulties in doing assignments or passing tests.  A teacher should listen carefully while mentally taking notes on the issues and how they might be dealt with in the most efficient way possible.  Then, a teacher might devise a plan with the student’s input on how to address the concerns raised and have parents sign off on it as well as the student (parents will be more than willing to support a teacher here).  By enlisting parents as partners here, students will have support on both ends to be successful.

Second, rewards don’t work.  They send the wrong message that immediate gratification will do wonders, but it doesn’t because students only work for the immediate reward and learn little from the experience.  Instead, a teacher may need to look at alternative intervention models.  A teacher may wish to consider small group tutoring within the class (the majority of students are on task so the teacher can pull the few who are lost to a corner of the classroom and support them with additional materials or instruction).  If small group setups don’t work, then one-on-one is the next option.  In this setting, a student will be more likely to discuss his confusion.  Again, keep parents informed throughout since with their support, a student is more likely to experience success in improving his/her grade.

Third, encourage peer support. Obviously, excellent students don’t need credit, but if they think that they can help a teacher they like and respect, they will gladly do it.  Sometimes they have a way of making course content more accessible to struggling students.  Provide them with a task and pair them up with students who are open to working with them (watch out for personality differences).  Once the struggler feels more confident, a teacher can provide him with an alternative assessment to see if he has mastered the content.  The grade he earns there would replace the failing one.

Last, here are some great openers for teachers to assist students who are failing and lost.  By staying with the non-judgmental openers, students are far more willing to try.
Have a great Thanksgiving!


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