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Supporting Struggling Students to Succeed Second Semester ๐Ÿ“–๐Ÿ“šโœ๏ธ

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Hey there, fellow teachers of high school! As we enter the month of March, it’s the perfect time to reflect on our struggling students and how we can offer them the support they need. We all have those students who face difficulties, and it can be quite a challenge to figure out the best approach to help them. That’s why I’ve put together this blog post, packed with tips and tricks to assist us in supporting our struggling students. So, grab a cup of your favorite beverage, whether it’s coffee or tea, and let’s dive right into it!

Now, it’s important to understand that many students struggle not because they lack preparation or motivation, or because they spend too much time socializing. It’s not always about being “smart enough,” there are other many factors at play here. Of course, some students find it difficult to concentrate or handle the demands of family, work, and school all at once. However, for many of our struggling students, the real issue lies in their lack of effective study skills, difficulty comprehending the material presented in class, challenges with test-taking or writing, or struggling to apply their knowledge and methods to new situations.

Education is a powerful tool for driving social mobility, which is why it’s crucial for us to consider how we can best support our struggling students. The good news is that more and more research is emerging, providing us with valuable guidelines on how to offer them the help they need. So, without further ado, let me share with you five strategies that might be worth considering.

5 tips for supporting struggling students:

1. Reassess progress from the first semester. Struggling students often prefer not to draw attention to themselves. It’s understandable. One strategy to keep these students on our radar is to track their progress and regularly check in on them. It may sound basic, but one way I do this is by using a thick plastic sleeve for my seating chart. I use different colored whiteboard pens to mark their progress. After each progress report, I update the chart with a colored dot, serving as a visual reminder of whom I need to check in on. I use a black dot for students who are failing or close to failing, and a green dot for students who I’m still concerned about.

2. Rely on the hard work already done. It is essential to rely on the relationships we have cultivated with our students since the beginning of the year. The effort we put into forging connections with them months ago pays off now. Building trust allows us to delve deeper into their struggles. During this time of the year, I often find students being more vulnerable and honest with me. Starting a conversation can be challenging and nerve-wracking, but here are a few ways I approach it. I often keep a student after class and ask:

  1. “The story I’m telling myself right now is that you have a lot on your mind, which is distracting you from doing well. Am I correct in assuming this?”
  2. “What is one thing you need from yourself at this moment to improve your performance in my class this semester?”

Relying on the relationship I have cultivated ensures that these questions do not close the conversation but instead encourage an open dialogue.

3. Reconnecting with parents: After teaching middle school for 12 years, I have learned that certain aspects carry over to high school, such as parents being kept less informed compared to elementary school. If a student fails my class in the first semester, I keep them on a list to monitor their progress in the second semester. If their performance begins to decline, I send an email to their parents. It may sound basic, but here’s the twist: I have three pre-written email templates that I use repeatedly for my struggling students. While making phone calls to parents may not always be feasible, sending 10 emails is more manageable if I have them prepared in advance. Investing time upfront to develop these email templates saves me time in the long run and effectively communicates to parents that their child is facing difficulties.

4. Assessment retakes: I understand that this is a controversial topic. However, after more than 20 years of teaching, I have completely changed my perspective on it. About four years ago, I started allowing quiz retakes. This decision came after adjusting my perspective after talking to various colleagues. I realized that if I wanted students to truly grasp the information, why not give them a second chance? Isn’t life about second chances when you don’t get something right?! I do this by allowing my quizzes to be retaken, but my tests consist of reworded quiz questions and cannot be retaken. This approach strikes a balance that supports students who struggle with assessments (which was me in high school!). There is a catch, though: students have to make up the quiz before or after school. This requirement helps me identify students who are willing to put in the effort to improve their grades. I also mention this in every email I send to parents of struggling students, as it encourages students to show up for these retakes.

5. Support a cell phone free classroom: We’re living in an age of advanced technology that’s all around us. From doorbell cameras to virtual reality glasses, it’s hard to imagine a time when things weren’t as they are now. Our high school students have grown up in this tech-savvy era, where technology is a part of their everyday lives. However, despite being surrounded by technology, they often experience increased anxiety and feelings of loneliness.

With students spending most of their time on social media, we’re well aware of the impact it can have on their brain and development. So, how can we engage them when they’re used to instant gratification and quick swiping if they’re not in the mood? It’s a real challenge for educators as we have to compete with their cell phones for their attention.

To tackle this issue in my classroom, I’ve come up with a solution to encourage student participation without relying on cell phones. Every day, I offer 5 points to each student for actively participating in class. This means they need to be alert, have their school-issued Chromebooks fully charged, and keep their cell phones out of sight. If they fail to meet any of these conditions, they lose their points for the day. In addition, I’ve set up a charging station at the front of the classroom where students can charge their devices. This serves as an incentive for students who have an unhealthy attachment to technology to disconnect from it for the duration of the class.

Want to read more on this topic? Check out this article: Cellphone Bans Can Ease Studentsโ€™ Stress and Anxiety, Educators Say

As educators, we will always feel the pressure to increase student learning. But hey, let’s not forget to cut ourselves some slack! Taking a moment to appreciate the progress we’ve made and the impact we’ve already had on our students’ lives!

Did you know that Friday, March 8 is International Womenโ€™s Day?

International Womenโ€™s Day is a global celebration of womenโ€™s achievements, and this special day can be used to showcase the women that make your business thrive.

March is also Womenโ€™s History Month! Women’s History Month is of great importance because it allows us to celebrate and recognize the contributions and achievements of women throughout history. It provides an opportunity to honor the women who have made significant impacts in various fields, including science, arts, politics, and social activism. Women’s History Month also serves as a reminder of the struggles and obstacles that women have faced and continue to face in achieving gender equality. It helps to promote awareness and understanding of women’s history and the ongoing fight for women’s rights.

Below is an easy and FREE way to get started celebrating influential women in history โคต๏ธ

5 warm ups: Celebrating Women in History

Wishing you a great month up ahead! ๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒฟ๐ŸŒผ