Teaching students with learning problems
As teachers, we provide our students with the best of ourselves because we want them to succeed. We choose the most appropriate methods, the best tools and wrap up our courage to deliver our lessons effectively. We are concerned about their academic development and are enthusiastic when we spot any positive change in their behavioral and cognitive development. However, we get depressed when are faced with students with learning problems who fail. We are lost and feel our efforts are useless. This happens because not all teachers have had the type of training that provide strategies to cope with these types of problems.
Teachers can do many things to help students with learning difficulties. They can improve their teaching methods, the assignment they want their students to do and the way they assess their work. Here are some strategies you can use to cope with students with learning problems.
- Have students attention focused on you before you start the lesson.
- Instead of teaching with sophisticated language, use simple language and speak slower.
- Teach new vocabulary.
- While discovery methods are better for normal learners, this create high affective filter and may hinder slow learners. So since students with learning problems are not good problem solvers try to use explicit instruction.
- Don’t use open-ended questions often. Ask precise questions needing particular answers and build on them to reach your teaching objectives.
- Repeat, review and recycle on regular basis. This can be very helpful to foster long-term memory.
- Use concrete materials and pictures.
- Give one instruction at a time and don’t hesitate to have students tell you what is to be done and repeat given instruction to check full understanding.
- Provide a checklist of work to be done.
- Vary your teaching methods to meet all learning styles. Present the material orally, visually, kinesthetically, in group work and in individual work…
- Write key points on the board, use colored chalk or markers
- Present new information in the form of tables, charts, pictures…
- When you present important points repeat them many times and say” this is important” to get their attention.
- Provide examples of the work to be done.
- Teach students how to ask for help.
- Summarize key points at the end of the lesson. You may use graphs, tables, charts…
- Allow students to choose from different forms of assignment: an interview, a role play, a demonstration,
- pictures and drawings with descriptions, written text…
- It is also helpful for students with learning problems that teachers provide them with controlled or guided tasks instead of free tasks.
- Allow enough time for students to answer question or do tasks and exercises.
- Vary the way students do their work: use whole class, small group and pairs.
- Provide outlines and graph organizers to help students deal with assignment.
- Reduce the amount of work to be done. Focus on quality instead of quantity.
- Split large assignment into small parts.
- Give students opportunity to ask for assistance when given a task.
- Teach students study skills. Inform students with the teaching points that will be covered in the test.
- Prepare students for the test. Provide a review sheet to be done as a homework to be corrected later in the
- class. While correcting the review sheet give students time to ask questions or review concepts.
- Teach key elements in tests: “fill in the blanks”, “match the following”,” analyze”, “define”, “choose the right answer”…
- Read the test to the students.
- Make sure you test what was taught. Don’t ask from them things they don’t know yet or expect from them to come up with new information.
- Vary the type of test questions: matching, true/false, multiple questions, short answers, essays…
- Provide a quiet place for test assignment.
- Show students how you will mark the assignment. Provide clear criteria of marking.
- Provide feedback so that students learn from their mistakes and improve their learning.