Good morning, Parents.
I would like to share some thoughts this morning that may help parents and teachers communicate more clearly in situations where students are under-performing. My hope is that in sharing these ideas it will help parents and teachers get right to the core of the problem with greater clarity, so that they can then work together to solve the problem more effectively.
As educators, we find that under-performing students usually fall into one of two general categories. The are either “struggling learners” or “resistant learners.” The struggling learners are having trouble understanding, and often need to have things broken down further or described more precisely, and they may need more time and support from the teacher to be successful. The struggling learners, however, remain willing to spend extra time with the teacher during intervention time or at some other time during the day to get extra help. While they are struggling to learn, when their teacher reaches out to support them, they willingly meet the teacher half way and make progress. When a student is a struggling learner, teachers almost always seem to respond with considerable energy to support the student because they want all of their students to succeed. When students are willing to invest extra effort with the teacher that is met with eagerness by our teachers and struggling learners rarely under-perform for very long.
A resistant learner is a student who withdraws from the learning process and often from the teacher as well. When the teacher reaches out to help students who are resistant, they often push away and avoid the teacher and the support. When a teacher tries to help a resistant learner, it seems the more the teacher tries to help, the less the student is willing to do. We ask teachers–as the adults and leaders in the learning process–to raise above these frustrations and persistently try to support these resistant learners, but we also realize that at some point it is only human nature to invest our energy in situations where it is producing results. What is needed in a situation with a resistant learner is to work with the parents to break the cycle of resistance and bring the student and teacher together. Many times when parents realize that their child is avoiding help from their teacher, these parents can set expectations at home that help to break the cycle of resistance and avoidance. When that happens, teachers can build toward greater success.
My hope in sharing this information, that when parents and teachers are talking about children who are under performing, that conversation will progress to one of these descriptions. To often, we may talk around the real core issues that need to be addressed if we are going to solve the problem effectively. And in the most challenging situations where students are resistant and avoiding help, we need to work together as teachers and parents to break that cycle in order to move forward.
Have a great week,