How to help students with poor academic performance

Exams are around the corner, teachers! Are your students prepared? You probably have a mix of students in your classes – those who you know will perform brilliantly, and those you have concerns for. Those students who have poor academic performance may need a little extra assistance in getting through exams.

How to help struggling students

Your classroom = motivation station

All the best lessons, resources, and books in the world won’t improve a student’s academic performance if they’re not motivated to learn the material. Here are strategies you can put in place to encourage motivation:

  • Get excited. One of the best ways to motivate your students is to share your enthusiasm. If you’re excited, chances are they will become enthusiastic, too.
  • Harness their interests. If you really know your students, you’ll be able to relate topics to their interests or experiences, making the topic much more interesting (and thereby extending their motivation).
  • Encourage your students. Teachers can give their students loads of motivation by rewarding success, praising a task well done, or simply noting their improvement or hard work.
  • Help them find self-motivation. It’s all well and good for you to motivate your students, but they need to find their own reasons for actively learning and consistently putting in the work. Use your knowledge of your students and their personal lives to help them find a strong motivation for performing well.

Set attainable goals

If you’re not pushing your students to do more than the minimum, they won’t push themselves on their own. Students like to be challenged and with each success they will become more confident and will work hard to achieve the next goal. Just ensure that these goals are within their reach; set them too high and their chances of success are low, which will only damage their motivation and confidence.

Offer extra lessons

There are some students who may need extra attention when it comes to academics. We all know this is perfectly normal as people learn in different ways and at different paces. Offer some of your time to give your struggling students extra lessons in the areas where they perform low.

Lighten their load where possible.

It’s easy to forget how busy a student’s schedule can get. Many schools have mandatory activities, such as after-school sports and culture. Add homework, assignments, and projects to the list and you’ve got a full schedule! Some senior students may even have jobs they go to after school – where do they find the time? Try to assign less homework on days that you know your students have after-school activities.

Help them draw up a timetable

With the above in mind, offer to help your students draw up a timetable that will factor in their school and personal activities. A timetable will help them manage their time as well as keep them on track to exam success.

Set practice exams

In his TED talk What do top students do differently?, Douglas Barton explains that top students don’t have higher IQs or work differently – they do more practice papers. Those involved in the study – based on 13-years’ worth of research looking into the learning habits of tens of thousands of students – found that they could almost perfectly estimate a student’s results based upon the number of practice exam papers they had done. Here are some of the benefits of practicing exams:

  • Students will become more familiar with the types of questions and how to answer them differently (what are the examiners looking for?)
  • They will learn how to better manage their time in the actual exam
  • Additional resources supplied with the exam will become more familiar
  • The format of the exam will make more sense
  • They’ll become faster and less prone to silly mistakes

There you have it, teachers! With these strategies in place, you can confidently say that you have done everything you possibly can to help prepare your struggling students.

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