How Teachers Can Identify and Assist Struggling Students

As a teacher, there are so many students and tasks to manage at once, so it can be difficult to identify exactly where your students lost you, and exactly who needs the most help. Is it the quiet kid who silently draws instead of taking notes, or is it the disruptive kid who makes armpit farting noises to distract the other kids from the fact that he’s so far behind? It can be very hard to say. If you’re unsure of how to best intervene with some of your students, here are five ways teachers can identify and assist struggling students.

  1. Identify disruptive behavior for what it is. When students are being disruptive, they are usually either bored with content that is too easy for them, or they are frustrated with content that is too difficult. If the content is too easy, you can channel that disruptive behavior by asking that student to explain the exercise for you to the class. If the content is too difficult, you can keep close proximity to the student while teaching and give a little more one-on-one time with that student.
  2. Seat struggling students with students who are ahead of the curve. It’s never a good idea to seat two struggling students next to one another. If you have a student who is not grasping the material and acting out, seat that student next to a few of your more advanced students and ask those students if they will assist you with explaining exercises when you work with other groups.
  3. Scaffold student learning. If you have a student who is struggling in math, for example, you want to look closely at which steps are the most difficult. Once you know where the source of difficulty is, it’s important that you break down those steps into even smaller steps so that the child doesn’t have to make quite so much of an intellectual leap. Be sure to always use those same steps whenever you are explaining that exercise to provide clarity and consistency.
  4. Ask struggling students to stay in at lunch or recess. Some students need a lot of your individual time, and oftentimes, you just don’t have enough of it to give. It just wouldn’t be fair to give 30% of your time to one thirtieth of the class, so sometimes it’s better to ask that student to give you a little bit more of his or her extra time. This way, there won’t be any distractions from other students and you’ll really be able to get to the heart of the issue.
  5. Assign online learning games as homework. One of the best ways to really get a student focused on difficult material is through the use of online educational games, like the ones designed by LearningRX. There are tons of games to choose from that address all kinds of academic subjects and levels, and to the kids, it just feels like they’re playing video games.
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