Every educator wants their students to succeed, but it’s inevitable that there will come moments when you worry your students are falling behind. What should you do? We’re here with some advice for anyone dealing with one or more struggling students.
It’s hard to see your students struggling, and many people have an instinctive reaction to panic. Don’t fall into that trap! Panic doesn’t help you, doesn’t help your students, and can lead you to try unreasonable strategies that won’t work. Instead of yielding to the first gut reaction, recognize that slipping in progress is common (especially this year given all the changes education has been through), and happens for a wide variety of reasons, which may require different solutions.
Take a Step Back and Assess
To remedy a problem, you have to find its source first. Instead of charging ahead with your study plan, take a step back and look at the situation. While it can be tempting to focus solely on your students’ experiences in your classroom, it’s also important to make sure there’s nothing going on outside your work with them that’s impacting them. Especially under current circumstances, many students are struggling with external stressors, and knowing if that’s impacting their academic life can be key to getting them back on track.
Go Back to Basics
If you sense your students are slipping, the odds are it isn’t because of some minor detail they’ve missed, but rather something foundational they’re struggling with. Often, a single error in the foundations of a concept can lead to struggling on a particular issue in a variety of different ways down the line. Going back to the basics, reviewing key concepts, and making sure that there hasn’t been a misunderstanding that’s spiraled out of control are key to “righting the ship” for your students.
Form a Well-Thought-Out Plan
With a better sense of why your students are falling behind, it’s time to make a plan. What this entails will depend on the nature of the student’s issues, but it can mean anything from setting up a study schedule and homework plan that works for them, to incorporating concepts they’ve been struggling with into your lessons, to seeing that your students have access to external resources if they need them. Just as no two educators or students are the same, no two plans will be exactly identical, but instead will be designed to suit your students’ needs. With the right plan, and a little patience, your students can be back where they should be and quickly making progress!