Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Tips for Teaching English

Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Tips for Teaching English

Article excerpt

Research regarding at-riskcollege students indicates that this population is faced with many obstacles to academic success. Some barriers include: living in poverty, coming from a minority background, being raised in single-parent homes, having mothers with less than a high school education, being a first-generation college student, and speaking a first language other than English. When educators take these factors into account, it is apparent that instructors must meet students where they are. To do so requires becoming more accommodating to the student and their needs. Melissa Lee, English instructor at the State University of New York at Canton, offers three essential practices that are helpful in teaching at-risk students.

First, says Lee, provide structure in the classroom. Many students appreciate and respond well to structure. One way to increase organization in classes is through use of daily agendas. Lee begins each class by writing "Agenda" on the board and listing a few bullet points for the day. Simply knowing to expect may alleviate stress for the students. Also, instructors can share their final grade predictions with each individual student throughout the semester; this could be done unobtrusively with a half-sheet handout. The student's motivations are heightened from this speculative grade. Students who missed class could benefit from being sent an e-mail briefly stating what was discussed in class. Rather than support their behavior, this compassionately lets the student know that the world continues on without them. …

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