Resources for Educators

Teaching Tip

From the Teacher’s Aide Newsletter

2016 November

Have a struggling student? Send them an invitation!

I read a great article recently about connecting with struggling students, by Micah Sadigh, PhD, called “A Simple Invitation: Please See Me!” His approach is to write a note at the top of tests and assignments inviting struggling students to come see him to discuss what can be done to improve their grade. He finds that many students actually take him up on that invitation, and that most do better after they meet. I think the structure of his meetings with students is brilliant, so I’ve included an abridged version of what he tells each student here.

  • You’re not alone. He asks the student to think of them as a team (he and the student), working on finding solutions together.
  • Use the past to guide you, not as self-punishment. He asks the student to release the defensiveness and self-blame, and focus on more productively looking at the past.
  • Taking a look at past performance can reveal hints about ineffective approaches to studying, test-taking, and completing assignments. He does a thorough review with the student of past tests/assignments to uncover how the student has approached learning that particular material. Then, he guides the student toward more effective activities.
  • Note-taking is a set of skills to be learned. While reviewing performance, he asks to look at the student’s class notes. This allows him to give advice on improving focus, asking clarifying questions in class, and other techniques that support better note-taking.

Helping students learn to communicate about doubts and fears actually helps beyond the classroom and clinic. Students can realize the benefits to reaching out and sharing concerns, instead of avoiding problems, through these individual meetings with you. And by taking an interest in your student’s performance, you are showing that you really care about that student as an individual. The feeling that someone cares can have the added effect of motivating students to do better, because they want to reciprocate in kind and not let you down.

Let me know if you try any of this, and if it helps improve the effectiveness of your meetings with your struggling students.