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Helping Low Performing Students

Updated: Mar 1

From a Quora question I answered: How do teachers typically react when students do not perform well academically? What are their thoughts on the student's future prospects?


They spend time with that student individually to try to determine what is keeping the student from performing well. Then they do their best to address the issue so that the student can move forward. If the issues are successfully addressed then the student’s future prospects are very good!

There are many factors that can and do contribute to a student’s poor performance. Some of them are out of the teacher’s control so that is when the teacher will reach out to others for additional support for that student. This typically means contacting parents/guardians, counselors, and/or resource teachers.

Here is a list of reasons for low performance that I have encountered in my teaching career: (I included some proposed solutions/actions that worked for me)

  1. Low reading level-this leads to discouragement and sometimes the student completely gives up.

  2. Action-individual tutoring in reading.

  3. Action-contacting resource teachers to get additional help.

  4. Depression-from a challenging home life, low skill level or a myriad of other factors.

  5. Action-refer to counselor.

  6. Action-communicate with the student and with parents/guardians.

  7. Poor diet-this can take a huge toll on a student’s ability to focus and learn.

  8. Action-individual counseling re: diet

  9. Action-communicate with counselor if serious malnutrition involved.

  10. Fear of looking stupid-many students and adults have a self-limiting fear of looking stupid in front of others.

  11. Action-Teach students about the brain and what it really takes to learn. They will then feel better about themselves.

  12. Action-Make it clear that mistakes are learning opportunities and that your classroom is a “safe’ place to grow.

  13. Low self worth-if a student does not think that they are worthy or important then they see no reason to put forth effort.

  14. Action-Refer student to counseling.

  15. Action-Encourage all students in your classroom to know that they are all important and will make contributions to society if they choose to.

  16. Do not see the value in the curriculum-if the curriculum content is not applied to real-life situations then students often do not feel like trying because they see little to no value in learning the content.

  17. Action-Apply your curriculum to real-life situations as often as possible.

  18. Action-Integrate relevancy to curriculum content.

Final Thought: If you are interested in how to help students with the fear of looking stupid read the chapter about the brain and feeling stupid in my book “Wait, Don’t Quit” available on Amazon or Google Play. There is also a chapter in my book about a student that improved his performance dramatically in my chemistry class and in his other classes simply by changing his diet. He went from a “D” to a “B” in my class in 4 months time because, he said, his brain fog went away and he could think clearly.

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