How Teachers Can Help All Students Succeed
Teachers play an essential role in the academic success of all the children they teach. However, it is critical that they play an even more dominant role in helping children who are facing academic failure and/or performing below their academic potential. Admittedly, this isn’t an easy task with a classroom full of other students who also need the teacher’s help and guidance.
An additional challenge for many teachers is learning to effectively cope with the differences in culture and socioeconomic status that may exist with their students. Such differences may include learning and social styles, as well as communication skills, and the gaps they can create between teacher and student can be frustrating and even overwhelming.
However, with proper support from colleagues and administrators, teachers can significantly improve their chances of getting through to students, and in turn, increase their chance for academic success. Teachers can help students achieve this goal by:
- Having high expectations of all students regardless of their previous academic performance.
- Helping all students feel like a part of the school and educational community. Increasing a sense of school belonging (i.e., perceptions of being liked, accepted, included, respected, and encouraged to participate in school and classroom activities) may reduce the school dropout rate among culturally diverse students.
- Creating learning environments that reinforce the view that students can master academic subjects. Students are motivated to compete with themselves to meet higher and higher self-determined goals. The result of such learning environments, according to Bandura, is an increased sense of self-efficacy that promotes academic achievement.
- Seeking out, discovering, and praising any effort of all students make toward learning, particularly those who are failing or underachieving. Teachers can praise any part of the learning process, academic and/or behavioral, as well as encourage the child to give self-praise. That means correcting even wrong answers sensitively. This can be done through carefully praising the effort, as opposed to diminishing the answer given.
- Assessing the learning styles of their students, keeping in mind that being different is not inferior. This information can be used to gradually incorporate learning and processing strategies that will help the child develop the skills needed to succeed in school, college, or the job market.
- Encouraging students to ask questions when they don’t understand something or need further clarification. Many students fear appearing “stupid” in front of their classmates and/or the teacher.
- Helping students understand that taking notes and studying course material is the way to achieve academic success. Teachers can also help students develop successful test-taking strategies, an area where bright students of all cultural backgrounds can have difficulty—to the detriment of their grades and self-esteem.
What did I miss?