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Failing and Falling Behind: What’s a Good Teacher to Do?

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We all want our students to succeed, yet each year we encounter students who begin to fail and fall behind. This can bring up a myriad of emotions for any teacher, but all will agree that we will do what it takes to get them to thrive in the classroom. While a lack of effort on the student’s part is usually a major part of the battle, here are a few ways to combat the habits and pull your failing students back to the land of the passing grades.


Identify the Issue Early: When you notice a student beginning to slip, identify the issue right away. Have a meeting with your student at lunch or during a break. It doesn’t have to be long or formal, but checking in to identify the issue can keep the student from getting further and further behind. Are they struggling with the material? Is their schedule overloaded so that they are foregoing homework from your class? Once the issue is identified, you will be able to find the best way to help that student.


Get the Parents Involved Early: When possible, notify the parents of the student’s progress and get them on board with an action plan. Give them specific ideas of what they can do to help. Many parents want to help but just don’t know exactly what to do. Let them know what you are doing in the classroom to help their student and give them some tips of what they can be doing at home to help their child succeed. This also shows the parents that you are invested and can save you from an angry phone call placing blame on you for their child’s failure.


Create an Action Plan: Some students need a little more guidance than others. Create a plan with the student and, if possible, their parents to help them get back on track. That could mean having a contract where you and/or the student’s parents sign the student’s planner after checking to see if assignments are completed. It could mean coming in for a tutorial period or spending time with a tutor after school. It could even mean going through the student’s schedule with them and finding out where they can fit in time for homework and studying. This not only shows the student that you care about them (making them more likely to put more of an effort into your class), it also gives them a game plan in how to come back from falling behind.


Enforce Finishing Classwork: There are many ways in which a teacher can motivate students to finish their classwork (blog post coming soon!). Many teachers will assign work to their class and head back to their desks, hoping for the best. This gives the students free reign to avoid completing (or even starting) the assigned work. To combat this, walk around and engage your students as they are working and keep them on track. Monitor for comprehension and give them a nudge and some assistance if they get stuck or discouraged. Make your classwork worth points toward their grade and incentivize its completion. Completing classwork and earning those points will give your student a chance to bring their grade out of the “danger zone”.


Having students who fail and fall behind is a typical part of the teaching experience. However, by getting involved early, notifying the parents, creating an action plan, and enforcing the finishing of classwork, you are giving that student the best chance to come back from a failing grade and the best chance at success in your classroom.


For more teaching tips and ideas, check back here regularly and for teaching guides, be sure to visit Social Studies MegaStore!

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