Helping Slower and Lower Performing Learners
You may have noticed already that your slower and lower performing learners have been labeled as discipline problems. Often, their behavior has nothing to do with motivation, but rather with their low self-image and low present level of proficiency. They may lack self-discipline or have a short concentration span. You might have experienced their negative attitude towards school and teachers. When they feel threatened, they are unwilling to invest in a learning activity.
From my experience, the greatest gift you can give these learners is the gift of time. Always allow your students to process the information before expecting them to demonstrate what they know about a specific task. Sometimes we tend to talk too fast or speed up instruction without even knowing it.
Another thing that has worked from my experience is to provide these learners with lots of opportunities for success to raise their self-esteem. Use worksheets with a heterogenous design containing varied types of tasks, varied levels, with easier tasks at the beginning and at least one optional task at the end.
A third important thing that works is to make instruction interesting by to use authentic instruction consisting of games and puzzles. When you teach this way, students won’t even notice they are learning new skills.
Provide lots of explanations and conduct frequent mini-assessments. Avoid lessons based on ‘ping-pong’ teacher-student interaction; these don’t provide the instructional support and instead of using group work, use individual and pair work instead.
For today, see how you can enhance your instruction by including or different teaching technique to cater to these groups of learners. Make notes before and after the activity. How has your instruction or student behavior changed as a result?