Teaching Strategies to Keep Struggling Students Working

A struggling student at her desk

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As a teacher, there is nothing more challenging than trying to help out a struggling student. It can become quite difficult and oftentimes you are left feeling helpless, especially when everything that you have tried doesn't seem to work.

Sometimes, it may seem like the easiest thing to do is to just give the student the answer and be done with it, you do have about twenty other kids to attend to after all. However, this is not the answer. All of your students need you to give them the tools to persevere. Here are the top 10 teaching strategies to help your struggling students keep on going.

Teach Students Perseverance

In order to succeed in anything in life, you have to work hard. Students who are struggling in school have never been taught that when the going gets tough that they have to push through it and keep on trying until they get it. Try writing down some motivating quotes and tips on how students can persevere and hang them in the classroom for everyone to see.

Do Not Give Your Students the Answer

Resist the urge to give your students the answer. While this may seem like the easiest thing to it, it is not the smartest. You are the teacher and it is your job to give your students the tools they need to succeed. If you just give them the answer how are you teaching them to do it on their own? The next time you want to save time and just give your struggling student the answer, remember to give them the tool to do it on their own.

Give Children Time to Think

The next time that you ask a student to give you an answer try waiting an extra few minutes and see what happens. Studies have shown that teachers only wait about 1.5 seconds between when they ask a student a question, and when they ask a student to answer. If only the student would have more time, would they be able to come up with an answer?

Do Not Take "I Don't Know" for an Answer

How many times have you heard the words "I don't know" since you started teaching? Besides giving students more time to think, also make them come up with an answer. Then have them explain how they came to get their answer. If all the children know that it is a requirement in your classroom to come up with an answer, then you will never have to hear those dreaded words again.

Give Students a "Cheat Sheet"

Often times, struggling students have a difficult time remembering what is expected of them. To help them with this, try giving them a cheat sheet. Have them write down the directions on a sticky note and place it on their desks, or make sure to always write everything down on the board for the students who constantly need a reference. Not only will this help the students, but it will also deter a lot of them from raising their hands and asking what they have to do next.

Teach Time Management

Many students have a hard time with time management. This is usually because managing their time seems overwhelming, or simply because they have never been taught the skill.

Try helping students with their time management skills by having them write down their daily schedule and how much time they think it takes them for each item that they listed. Then, go over their schedule with them and discuss how much time should really be spent on each task. This activity will help the student understand how managing their time is essential in order for them to succeed in school.

Be Encouraging

Most of the time students that struggle in the classroom, struggle because they have no confidence in themselves. Be encouraging and always tell the student that you know they can do it. Your constant encouragement may be all they need to persevere.

Teach Students to Move On

When a child gets stuck on a problem or a question, their first reaction is usually to raise their hand and ask for help. While this is an okay thing to do, it should not be their first thing to do. Their first reaction should be to try and figure it out on their own, then their second thought should be to ask a neighbor, and their final thought should be to raise their hand and ask the teacher.

The problem is, you have to teach the students to do this and make it a requirement that they follow. For example, if a student is stuck on a word when reading, have them use the "word attack" strategy where they look at the picture for help, try to stretch the word out or chunk it, or skip the word and come back to it. Students need to use the tool of moving on and trying to figure it out themselves before asking for help from the teacher.

Promote Cognitive Thinking

Encourage students to use their thinking caps. This means that when you ask them a question, they should really take the time to think about their answer. This also means that you as the teacher need to come up with some innovative questions that really make the students think.

Teach Students to Slow Down

Teach students to take it one task at a time. Sometimes students will find it easier to complete the task when they break it apart into smaller, simplest tasks. Once they complete the first part of the task then they can move on to the next part of the assignment, and so on. By taking it one task at a time students will find that they will struggle less.

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Your Citation
Cox, Janelle. "Teaching Strategies to Keep Struggling Students Working." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/strategies-to-keep-struggling-students-working-4088407. Cox, Janelle. (2023, April 5). Teaching Strategies to Keep Struggling Students Working. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/strategies-to-keep-struggling-students-working-4088407 Cox, Janelle. "Teaching Strategies to Keep Struggling Students Working." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/strategies-to-keep-struggling-students-working-4088407 (accessed May 28, 2023).