Learn six suggestions that will help make a difference with struggling students.

It’s often said that teachers, teach from the heart. I love this quote by Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, “I am a teacher. It’s how I define myself. A good teacher isn’t someone who gives the answers out to their kids but is understanding of needs and challenges and gives tools to help other people succeed.” It defines our purpose as teachers and what we should be accomplishing in our classroom.


Imagine that you have several students not succeeding in your class and you are continuously asking yourself, “What do I do?” I’ve been in this position before, and I didn’t know what to do. After some reflection and great advice from my mentors, I was able to help my students and truly make a difference. I wasn’t just looking for a solution for them to pass my class, but I wanted to make changes that would impact them positively into their future careers and post-secondary academic careers.


Failing students that aren’t doing well in our classes and those not succeeding bring out a lot of different emotions in us as teachers. When the situation falls into your lap, take a deep breath and see what can be done to help students.


Below are my top six go-to suggestions in helping make a difference with struggling students:


  1. Get the parents involved early. Involving parents is by far one of the best things you can do for struggling students. Not only do students need your support in the classroom, but they need it at home too. Getting parents involved will ensure that they have support at home.
  2. Encourage them. Never forget to encourage your students and celebrate small victories.
  3. Ask how to help. Ask your peers that may have had the students before and see what worked and didn’t work for them. I also suggest asking their counselor and administrator for a quick assist from time to time.
  4. Don’t give up. Like the late, great Jimmy V said, “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.” Even when it seems like nothing is working, keep at it because something is bound to click and work for your student.Learn to dig deep and find out what is the student's story.
  5. Let them fail. One of my mentors once told me, that sometimes you have to fail to succeed. You have to let them learn on their own from time to time.
  6. Look for “the story”. The last tip that I have is to look for their story. Sometimes when students come to school, you don’t know what is happening outside of the school. Always get to know where that student is coming from as their background sometimes provides important clues.


Passing students along to the next grade is not helpful. Hopefully, these tips can help students advance in our classes and take build valuable skills in life.


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Ryan Doggett