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Recognizing when students struggle in class is not as easy as it sounds.

Indeed, a student may appear to be perfectly attentive and happy in class, which can mask the fact that their grades are slowly slipping downwards.

Low academic performance can result from many factors, including family issues, bullying, or simply an unwillingness to learn. The first step to combating the issue is recognizing that it exists. Here are a few strategies for spotting low academic performance and addressing the problem before it becomes a major obstacle to learning:

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1. Provide them with online learning resources

Putting kids in control of their learning will allow them to reflect on their progress. It could make them more open to discussing their academic performance with you. Indeed, online resources can change classroom power dynamics, encouraging kids to share more about what they know with you. This can be hugely helpful in identifying knowledge gaps and areas you need to work on. If you’re wondering where to look for online resources, take a look at this helpful list.

2. Encourage students to think aloud

Remind your students that airing their questions about a certain topic will help you to guide them in the right direction. Curious students tend to perform better than those who take in the information that is fed to them.

3. Liaise with other teachers

If you’ve noticed a student struggling, talk to other teachers about it. They are likely to face similar issues in their classrooms, and talking it through may help you develop new ways to support low-performing kids.

4. Develop non-academic skills with a leadership program

Low-performing students often find themselves unable to participate in activities that depend on academic skills or sporting prowess. This can be a real blow to their confidence and can push their grades even lower. To combat this, set up a program that allows them to take on a leadership role that will develop their social and diplomatic skills. This is often a real confidence booster and could improve their grades.

5. Set up one-to-one meetings with students

If students know that you care about their progress and future, they will likely be much more open and honest about academic struggles. Pencil in some one-on-one time with students once a month and give them the space to talk about any worries they may have. This is a great way to spot any performance issues early on and develop a plan of action tailored to individual students’ needs.

6. Get students to rate their progress

Asking students to provide reflections on their academic progress is an effective way of discovering low-performing students and spotting who could push themselves further. Once you have ascertained that a student is aware that they are merely coasting by, try and encourage them to reach their full potential by offering, for example:

  • The option for a meeting with their parents to boost their motivation.
  • Online resources to address their academic issues.
  • The option to set them up with a mentor in a higher grade.

7. Assign each student a topic to teach to the rest of the class

At the end of a course unit or semester, ask each student to present a short lesson on something they should have learned. This is a great way of ensuring that students stay alert during your lessons and spotting any kids that perhaps need to revisit certain topics.

8. Make yourself more approachable

Developing student-teacher relationships based on trust and honesty is one of the best ways to identify kids falling through the cracks. Indeed, ensuring that you are approachable will encourage students to come forward if they struggle with work and need extra support. Check out this article if you’re wondering how to come across as the kind of teacher students can open up to.

9. Try not to call on unsuspecting students

Calling on students to answer a question unprepared is not an accurate way of deducing low performance. Indeed, many kids can drift off during class, and a momentary slip will only cause embarrassment.