Working with students who have missed or failed a particular topic or test can be an especially difficult challenge for teachers, because often these students are reluctant to learn or have been unsuccessful with traditional instructional techniques. Successful remediation strategies can carry you across the curriculum and provide you with specific means to reach some of your most difficult students.
Diagnose the Problem(s)
The diagnostic assessment can be a powerful remediation tool. A diagnostic assessment is a test that you give your students at the beginning of a term in order to determine their current learning strengths and weaknesses. You can use a variety of diagnostic assessments at the start of your course in order to determine where your students are now in their learning journeys. If you don't know where they are, you can't take them to the next step, after all.
One useful diagnostic tool can be to give a practice or previously-published version of the state assessment your students will be working on (if that applies to your course and students). This way, you can see where their current scores are and also analyze their answers based on the particular learning skills and strategies where they scored well and poorly.
Another useful diagnostic tool is to give some type of learning style inventory or assessment. This will help you speak to the learning strengths and weaknesses of your individual students and determine the best way to help them understand the course material. You can find free copies of learning style inventories online, such as for Gardner's Multiple Intelligences.
It may sound unusual, but you will probably have to teach your remediation students how to learn. Many of these students will come into your classroom without proper skills in the areas of time management, studying and information retention. You can teach these skills in addition to your course materials, and your students will be empowered to learn more on their own.
Students need to learn how to organize their materials for learning, so you should instruct them on things like keeping a binder, having a system and keeping track of assignments. You can also teach them how to study and provide different study tips and strategies for them to try (such as note cards, outlining and review games). Showing your students how to learn can go a long way in helping them learn.
Set High Expectations
It may be too easy to fall into a trap of low expectations when you teach struggling learners. You may feel that they are not capable of performing as well as their non-remedial peers, or that they have had a difficult time and deserve a "break." However, you are only doing your students a disservice when you lower your standards for them.
Keep your expectations for behavior, grades and class performance high. Align them to the standards for the course and the state, and watch as your students rise to meet them.
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