Don’t get me wrong: Teaching 25 students at varying levels in one classroom is equivalent to trying to herd seventy cats through a car wash. We’re not going to hit every mark. Every kid is not going to meet every standard, but can every student show some sign of improvement? I think so.The first thing I learned in the journey to help my girls was this: Whoever is doing the work is doing the learning. As a teacher I have to make sure my struggling students are working. I have to fight the urge to make it easier for them by giving them answers or telling them what to write. Hard work is good for them. It’s good for us all.
Don’t correct a student’s work until he’s explained his answer first.
Carry around an extra copy of the worksheet.
Write down the directions or list tasks to be completed on the board.
Teach your students not to stop when the going gets tough.
Give chronic hand raisers a colored sticky note.
Keep them reading.
Ask higher level questions that make them think.
Manage time for them.
Evaluate your activities carefully.
Tell them they can.
I realize it’s easy to compile a list. The hard part is implementing it. You’re a teacher. You do 25 different things every four minutes while managing the behavior of a classroom full of students. Adding 10 more strategies to an already overloaded day is probably not something that can happen overnight. No problem. Pick one and try adding it in. Maybe you recognize that your strugglers are chronic hand-raisers, and they rarely accomplish anything because of the exorbitant amount of time they spend with their hand in the air. Give them a sticky note this week. Next week maybe you can give listing tasks on the board a try.
Helping my girls move from unmotivated strugglers to independent learners has been one of the highlights of our journey. They can do more than they ever thought possible. Our classroom strugglers can, too. Let’s help them get there.
Jennie is a mom to three and a middle school science teacher. She is a passionate advocate for all things adoption and all things educational. After working with students stuck in hard places, she saw a need she could fill. In 2006 her oldest daughter, Hannah, joined her on this amazing journey called life. In 2008 she welcomed Ashley, and in 2011 Amy rounded out their family of four. They laugh together, cry together, and, most importantly, share ordinary everyday moments together. They wouldn’t have it any other way. Find Jennie on her blog, A House Called Home, and at her TpT Store.