Have you observed that some of the students in your new class are not quite at the level you expected? This blog post offers six unique tips about how to handle this common situation.
Falling Behind at the Beginning
One of the most important things to do at the start of a new school year is to assess the levels and needs of each student in your class. Inevitably, something you might learn from a back-to-school assessment is that some of your students are not at the expected level. While not ideal, this situation is nothing to be overly worried about, especially since it's so common. These six steps can help you handle the situation.
1. Identify Strengths and Weaknesses
Just because you've noticed that certain students might be behind in one subject doesn't mean that they're lacking in every discipline. All students should be given a fair chance to have the full complexity of their needs understood. Rather than just assuming that each student you identify as being behind is lacking in every way, conduct a holistic assessment of every student.
Observe students who are falling behind in class and pay extra attention to their assignments. Obtain a better, more concrete understanding of exactly which areas a student is weak in, and in which areas he or she might be strong. For example, a disruptive student who doesn't get good grades might seem like a weak student; however, he or she might excel at group projects and presentations when given the chance.
2. Identify Learning Styles
In addition to understanding a student's weak and strong points in terms of a subject, it's important to identify a weaker student's learning style. It might just turn out that he or she has one of the less common learning styles that teachers tend not to focus on, like kinesthetic. Identifying learning style can be as easy as a quick assessment that you administer to the entire class if you don't want to single anybody out.
3. Differentiate Instruction
Once you have a better, more holistic understanding of your students' needs, styles, strengths, and weaknesses, you can begin to differentiate your instruction to better reach them. Try scaffolding lessons so that they cover more basic concepts students might need to review. Work on differentiating lessons in order to include every learning style. Offer options for homework assignments that allow students to work on those areas in which they are stronger.
4. Have One-on-One Conversations
There are many reasons to have one-on-one conversations with students who are falling behind. One is to help broaden your understanding of the students and their unique situations. The other is to simply offer support and to communicate that you believe in them, that you don't view them less favorably than the other students in the class, and that you're available for extra help whenever they may need it. To have a teacher believe in you truly makes a difference in a student's life, especially when he or she is struggling.
5. Involve Classmates
Students who are falling behind don't have to struggle alone. That's you, certainly, but what if you involve other students in your class to support the ones who are struggling? Consider matching each struggling student with a buddy who can help him or her in those areas of weakness. Allow them to sit next to each other and work together on partner and group projects. This will be helpful to everybody, including the stronger students in the partnerships, who will develop a sense of responsibility and tutoring skills.
6. Involve the Administration
Chances are, your school has resources for students who are having a hard time. Everyone from guidance counselors to resource teachers to classroom aids to academic advisors are there to help contribute to the success of every student. Don't hesitate to reach out to your administration and see what resources can be put toward helping the students in your class who are falling behind.
It not only takes a village to raise a child, but also to educate one. Follow these tips and you'll be sure to succeed.
For resources you can use in your classroom, check out Study.com's Teacher Edition.