How Can You Help an Underperforming Student? 7 Awe-inspiring and Achievable Ways Teachers Must Know

Teachers are pretty aware of individual differences. Identifying it in the classroom is just half of the battle. There’s still more to meet and achieve. One of which is engaging underperforming students in productive learning. Hence, the question “How can you help an underperforming student?” came into view. It’s interesting, so let’s hop in.

Helping a struggling learner in the classroom

Photo by Gabby Orcutt on Unsplash

Accelerating our student’s individual performance is our utmost concern as teachers.  It means a lot of work to be done and it’s challenging knowing that our students are diverse learners. We have to keep them at a proper pace when it comes to classroom activities and the achievement of learning competencies.

By making our classroom presentations enjoyable and engaging, all our students will be motivated to learn at their best. It’s all in our hands.

However, there are students who perform below the expected output. And this is where the challenge comes in. Hence, let’s roll our sleeves and get started.


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How Can You Help an Underperforming Student? 8 Awe-inspiring and Achievable Ways Teachers Must Know

Purposeful teaching enhances students’ capacity. And why is it important? Because it encompasses all types of learners. A great teacher doesn’t only magnify the strengths and abilities of the exceptional students but also hones the weaknesses of the struggling ones so they become successful in learning.

For this, let me present the awe-inspiring and achievable ways to help an underperforming student. Certainly, this is worth your time. Hence, let’s take our responsibilities as teachers with grit and add the following ways in our classroom management. It requires hard work, but it’s for the best.

1. Build a strong relationship with all your students

I have worked with several underperforming students and  I can say that they really need us. Moreover, these gems in our classroom trust us and have confidence that we can do magic on their performance. That’s why for me establishing a strong relationship with all our students and not only for the few is solid gold.

Fostering a trusting and respectful relationship with all our students is quite challenging, but its impact on student performance is boundless.

As the manager of the classroom, you should be conscious of how you deal with all your students. Do you exhibit fairness? Are you giving them equal opportunities to learn the same concept in different ways? If your answer is a solid yes, then perhaps you have good interaction with your learners and get along with your students very well.

Once our students trust us, they feel comfortable being with us, and they become confident to display their skills and are never afraid of showing their weakness. The best teachers develop amazing strategies to develop positive relationships with all their learners. A great teacher is never selective. I know you are one of these great teachers.

Let’s continue maximizing the potential of each student in our classroom.

2. Set specific expectations for struggling students

A friendly reminder that before we proceed, the high expectations that we have for our students should focus on effort and not on excellence. Remember, most of our classes are heterogeneous groups and they differ in so many ways.

Beginning on the first day of the school year, our students must know what we expect from them. However, we can’t identify their learning styles and levels of performance immediately on the first day of classes. It requires more time and effort.

Nevertheless, we can master it in time. After assessing each of our student’s capabilities, we should prepare a plan of how to meet them halfway by setting specific expectations for the struggling students. They may not learn the same way as the excellent performers in class, but they do have the right to become productive.

Moreover, we should not exclude the struggling students from our high expectations. This will make them feel that we trust their inner strengths and that we believe that they are capable of achievement.

As we set specific expectations for our struggling students, we are unlocking their potential in a remarkable way. For example, if a student is a struggling reader, you should not expect him/ her to read at the same pace as the others.

We have to scaffold all the way until mastery is achieved. If it requires us to give sight word drills, then by all means we should provide it. In this scenario, we should be looking at quality over quantity. This is taken slowly but surely.

3. Know the real problem

According to B.F. Skinner, a well-known American psychologist, and behaviorist, his operant conditioning approach clearly emphasized that the best way to understand behavior is to consider its causes and consequences.

By identifying the causes of students’ academic poor performances, we will know how to hit the mark. Identify the real problem and solve it. Hence, our assessment strategies pay for the best. Our efforts of knowing each of our students in the classroom will guide us on how to assess their performance. By being sincere in our roles as teachers, we can do this effectively.

If the situation requires you to call the attention of the parents, then set for a parent conference through proper communication. The causes of a student’s poor academic performance can be both internal and external. Hence, I always involve the parents in the assessment program in order to find the best solutions.  The collaborative efforts of the parents and the teacher will increase the students’ self-belief that they can achieve their best.

Whether the cause of the problem is the learning environment or the student’s emotional state, it doesn’t warrant neglect and superficial teaching.  Even if some of the students are performing very low, their efforts are enormous. Furthermore, recognizing their efforts and not their mediocrity will boost their confidence.

4. Always provide interventions, reinforcement, and remedial instructions

Great teachers, we are given an additional bulk of tasks to provide due assistance to struggling students. Let’s accept these sincerely.

Our intentional support for our students who demonstrate difficulties in the classroom is highly impactful for equitable learning. The assistance we provide is highly individualized so it’s proven effective.

Based on my experiences, the supplementary activities I provide for my students who experienced academic challenges are a big help. Through constant monitoring, I could see the difference in their performances so I highly recommend it. Thus, it’s part of the list.

5. Never berate your struggling students

We should never do this to our struggling learners. What they need are our understanding and sincere assistance. But it doesn’t mean to appreciate their mediocre work, it does tell us to magnify their efforts and let them feel that it’s worth it. By telling them to try again if they fail at a mark, they will feel our concern which will ignite their perseverance.

Never embrace hurtful strategies in educating a child. Even at home, parents should be aware of that too. Admonishing or berating children will hurt their self-esteem. It’s bad for your students and very unbecoming in your classroom.

If we show natural calmness in students’ imperfections, it will be easier for us to deal with struggling students. We should think that there is always a reason for their poor academic performance. We should delve more to find the best solution.  Be that as it may, let us eliminate uncertainty in our students’ lives by showing them our unconditional support.

6. Be consistent with your support

As it is about what we do for our students that matters, we should be consistent in our assistance and support. Our encouragement has a lasting impact on student learning.

Our influence as teachers has a positive effect on our student’s academic performance. As we provide opportunities for growth and productivity in the classroom, let’s be consistent with our goals and efforts. This will help them discover their strengths and potential.

Simply put, if we are doing our best for quality preparation, this is an insinuation that we care for our students’ learning engagement. Chances are, our students will begin to believe in their capabilities. Therefore, they should feel our support right from the beginning.

7. Embrace them wholeheartedly

How can it impact students’ performances, especially the struggling ones? Embracing these learners means accepting them and respecting their capacities. This explicitly means that we support learner differences and it has a profound impact on students’ interests and engagement. Our students’ unique personalities and individual differences need acceptance to avoid frustrations and hurtful instances.

Struggling students are most of the time the unmotivated ones. Hence, our motivation strategies make a difference in their academic performance and behavior. Students who lack motivation are less likely to perform better.

Subsequently, the application of differentiated instructions and the Response to Intervention to meet our struggling students’ needs is an indication that we are doing our best for them. This is a strong indication that we are embracing our diverse learners wholeheartedly.

8. Promote differentiated instruction

With the unique capabilities in the classroom, we need varied learning activities to meet each of our student’s needs. This is challenging yet it’s worth it.

This requires a lot of work from us as teachers. Since there’s no one-size-fits-all teaching strategy, we need to also enhance our teaching pedagogies so we can support diverse learners especially the underperforming ones.  Hence, we need to be more aware of our students’ learning styles and the process should begin from day one.

Personalized instruction creates meaningful learning experiences for the students. Additionally, when students gain control of their learning experiences, they become more engaged to learn.


Each of our students is unique. This calls for our understanding and acceptance. As well-rounded educators, our influence never stops so we have to embark on that. I know that encouraging a non-participative child poses an enormous challenge on our part. But with our compassion, we can handle even the most diverse student in our class.

Shaping supportive schemes for our struggling students is the likeliest strategy to maintain a meaningful connection with them. It is the most advantageous.

What do you think teachers should know about helping the underperforming students in the class? Comment below and let’s collaborate.