7 Ways to Help Failing Students
For students, teachers are placed in a situation from where they can be seen only like a test taker or grade maker through our education system. All teachers need is to live up beyond this scenario. Teachers get equally depressed after their students get failed. Why not take a step further & help students to study better, score better & live up to everyone's expectations.
Be Available for Students whenever they need
How you do this will vary depending on your grade level and class structure but make it a priority to help your failing students whenever you can. Schedule time for students to work on problems so that you can move around the classroom & help individuals. Make it a point to check in on your failing students, even if they didn't raise their hands for help. And if you do see their hand up, make them your priority.
Encourage them to the core
Considering how frustrated and discouraged as we sometimes get with our struggling students, imagine how they must feel. Yes, sometimes it seems like they don't care, but often this is just a mask or coping mechanism for their frustration. We need to encourage them as much as possible. Praise them for even the smallest successes or improvements and tell them that you believe in them and know they can succeed.
Provide opportunity for self-reflection
Help the student walk through a process of self-reflection. This will, of course, vary depending on the age, but for middle school and high school give them a short questionnaire that ask them to 1) list all the reasons they think they were failing and 2) write down a plan for how to improve. Then go over it with them, encouraging them and giving additional ideas (and occasionally prodding them to think a little deeper).
Look for underlying problems
Try to determine what underlying problems are causing them to struggle. Do they have a genuine learning disability? Are there problems at home? Do they need glasses? Are they playing too many video games? Often we try to correct the symptoms without ever getting to the root of the problem. Require them to complete class work. I realize this is easier said than done, but do everything in your power to get them to complete their work. Don't just let them off the hook: require them to at least make a valiant attempt.
When all else fails, let them fail
When you've done all you can and it's report card time and they clearly earned an F, give them an F. Now I know in some schools this is simply not allowed (which is a tragedy!!!), but unless it's forbidden, go ahead and put the F on the report card.
Just passing them along to the next grade or course is not helping them, and often what they need most is to go through the course again.
Get the parents involved early
Whether or not you think the parents will actually make a difference, go ahead and involve them early. The responsibility for teaching kids is ultimately the parents', so they need to be informed about what's going on. But don't just tell them their kid is failing. Give them specific ideas of what they can do to help. Many parents want to help but just don't know exactly what to do.
A good teacher is like a sentient Google. No finger-pointing. No recriminations. Just a benevolent omniscience, helping everyone to take the next step.