How to cut your student failures in half | Mindsteps Inc.

How to cut your student failures in half

Note: This is Part III of a series. Read Part I and Part II

We’ve always been taught to wait until students start failing before coming up with an intervention approach. But, if you wait until students begin to fail to intervene, you’re too late.

Here’s why:

  • Students who are failing are often in fight, flight, or freeze mode and it is harder to get them unstuck once they are in a free-fall of failure.
  • You may have several students failing at once and it is much harder to support them without a plan.
  • You are busy. You may miss the early signs of failure and thus intervene when it is too late.
  • If you wait until students show signs of struggle before thinking about intervention, you end up making up support strategies on the spot. These are not as effective as the strategies you plan ahead of time.

The more effective way to support struggling students?

Provide them with supports at the first sign of destructive struggle. That way, you can quickly get them back on track before they get caught in a cycle of failure.

The Student SUCCESS FORMULA helps you provide that kind of proactive support. The plan helps you create supports before, during, and after the lesson. With this plan, you can catch struggling learners no matter when they begin to struggle and quickly intervene to prevent destructive struggle. This plan:

  • Prepares students for learning making struggling less likely.
  • Anticipates where students are likely to struggle during the lesson and establishes a system of support ahead of time to automatically get students back on track as quickly and effortlessly as possible.
  • Sets up opportunities prior to the summative assessment for students to re-engage with the material and to learn the things they missed. That way, students have yet another chance to reach mastery before the end of the unit.

NOTE: Download your copy of the Student SUCCESS Plan

Step One: Set Students Up For Success Through Acceleration

Acceleration is one of the most powerful parts of this plan. In fact, if you did nothing else but accelerate students, you would see an immediate improvement.

It’s that powerful.

Note: You can read more about how to use acceleration in your classroom in this article.

The way acceleration works is that you preview the core skills or concepts that students will need in order to successfully complete a lesson or unit.

That way, students have exactly what they need to learn. When they do, they struggle less and keep up instead of playing catch up.

It’s really genius.

Oh, and did I mention that you can do it during class?

Yep. It can actually be incorporated into your lessons. In fact, some teachers use their daily warm-ups for acceleration meaning that you don’t have to give up your lunch period to do it correctly.

Note: See what successful acceleration looks like here.

Step Two: Uncover or Create Background Knowledge

This one is an oldy but goody. Background knowledge makes learning easier and faster. If students don’t have the background knowledge they need, they will struggle to keep up with the learning.

So the trick is to activate background knowledge.

And if they don’t have the background knowledge they need, then you need a way to quickly create it.

NOTE: Read more about how to activate or create prior knowledge here

Step Three: Create Mastery Thresholds

Mastery Thresholds are like lines in the sand. If you are on one side of the line, you’re mastering the content.

If you’re on the other side of the line, you’re not.

Mastery Thresholds are completely unambiguous and there’s a reason for that. When you have an unambiguous line for mastery, you know immediately whether students are struggling or progressing.

With that kind of clarity, you’ll always instantly know who needs you help.

NOTE: Download your copy of the Student SUCCESS Plan

Step Four: Create Ongoing Assessments

This is probably the hardest part of the student SUCCESS Formula and will require the most work. But the good news is that once you’re done, you have a powerful way of knowing how students are doing and intervening early enough to actually make a difference for struggling learners.

The good news is that almost anything can be used as a formative or ongoing assessment – homework, classwork, quick learning checks, quizzes, or tests can work. So, you may have many of these already.

The trick is that once you have these assessments in place, you’re going to make one minor tweak to them that will make them MUCH more powerful. That tweak is something I call a red flag . . .

Step Five: Establish Red Flags

Red Flags are early warning signals that alert you at the first sign of student struggle. That way, you can intervene quickly and get students back on track, often before they even know that they are struggling.

The best part?

Red Flags are one of the best ways to make your supports AUTOMATIC. That means less work for you and more support for students.

Step Six: Set up progressive supports

One of the biggest challenges with supporting struggling learners is that support takes so much time.

Progressive Supports solve that.

You’ll set up a system of supports from least intensive to most intensive and you’ll learn something called “batching” that allows you to work with groups of students rather than one-on-one for a lot of the supports.

What that means is that you can reach more students in less time. Plus, because you set up the supports BEFORE students need them, when students trigger a red flag, you can immediately provide them with the right support.

Fewer struggles for the student and less work for you.

I’ll talk more about progressive supports in this post (plus there will be a free download!)

Step Seven: Select appropriate remediation strategies

Even with all of this, there will be times when students need just one more chance to master the information prior to the summative assessment.

That’s where remediation comes in.

But this remediation is different. It isn’t a hodge podge or last-ditch strategies in one last desperate attempt to help students learn.

Because these strategies are built into the plan, they build on the work you’ve already done with students.

That means this type of remediation will work.

And it will feel effortless for both you and your students. Why? Because it’s the logical next step in the process.

When you apply each of these steps to your support efforts, you can cut your student failures in half or eliminate them altogether. If you want to learn more about how to implement this plan in your classroom, simply click below and download the free infographic.

NOTE: Download your copy of the Student SUCCESS Plan