It can be challenging to spot struggling students in your classroom. And even if you realize a student is having issues, figuring out how to help them achieve academic success before it is too late is yet another challenge. Having some basic teaching strategies on hand to not only recognize students who are falling behind, but also to help them catch up before it’s too late, is essential.

Identify struggling students

Struggling students come in a variety of forms, from the troublemaker to the quiet type. Figuring out who needs help achieving academic success is not always easy. “Swimming with the Dolphins: Help for Struggling Students” by Nancy E. Cardenuto, for the September 1, 2014, issue of AMLE Magazine, explained, “Struggling students often want to be invisible. These students know when they do not fit into the norm, so they isolate themselves for security and protection.”

Cardenuto recommends teaching strategies that encourage students to develop their communication skills, thereby fostering an atmosphere of respect and trust among peers. The idea is that in a group setting, simple learning misunderstandings may come to light, giving the struggling students the opportunity to see and mimic peers performing the tasks successfully. This gives the struggling students a chance to replace their fear of failure with a new confidence to probe unfamiliar material.

Conduct screening

Much debate swirls around standardized testing, but the premise of regular screening to evaluate how students are progressing is valid. One strategy that can assist with the many and varied ways that students learn is Response to Intervention (RTI). In Teaching Strategies: A Guide to Effective Instruction, 10th Edition, by Donald C. Orlich, Robert J. Harder, Richard C. Callahan, Michael S. Trevisan, Abbie H. Brown and Darcy E. Miller, the authors wrote that with RTI, “Teachers continually collect and analyze assessment data to make decisions about which students are making satisfactory progress, which students are not progressing, and what level and type of additional intervention is needed (if any).” (Orlich, et al., 61)

While RTI is geared towards discovering students with learning disabilities, the idea is applicable to struggling students of all stripes. How to help your struggling students may involve varying your teaching strategies, methods, and techniques to address how different learning styles achieve academic success.

Other teaching strategies

Sometimes the learning problems arise because of relationship issues outside of the classroom, from dating-related issues to family crises. What are some how-to-help ideas when the problem isn’t so much academic as personal?

  • Help by listening to figure out the “why” of their problem.
  • Develop a plan to recover, like re-crafting or redoing an assignment, if possible.
  • If the problem is serious, give the struggling student professional resources that may know more about how to help.

Have you discovered any teaching strategies that you’ve found effective with struggling students? Let us know in the comments.

Reference: Orlich, Donald C.; Harder, Robert J.; Callahan, Richard C.; Trevisan, Michael S.; Brown, Abbie H.; Miller, Darcy E. 2013. Teaching Strategies: A Guide to Effective Instruction, 13th ed. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.