What you should remember about failing students
Failure for students is lack of success; a factor which holds them down. They believe it’s something which is not going to go away. The feeling of not succeeding affects their personality, making them under confident.
Unfortunately, our education system lacks certain guidelines to deal with students’ psychology. For instance, we mostly focus on promoting interpersonal skills and don’t pay emphasis on intra-personal learning style adopted by some students. We tend to set aside capabilities in students and do not see them more than their grades. Students of all ages pass through a system of earning grades, taking various assessments individually and in groups. Awards and rewards are set according to the grading plan and all students are expected to perform up to the mark. During this process of planning lessons, assessments, taking exams and later grading them we often exert pressure on some students who might find it difficult to respond to multiple requirements of every subject at school.
The common outcome of this situation is the creation of categories of students within a class. A child who might not perform well will either be called as a ‘non-proficient reader’, ‘failing student’ or a ‘poor test taker’. These negative descriptors affects their performance even more than before, making them feel inferior to other students.
Viewing students as grade makers and test takers is frustrating for teachers as well. Grades are supposed to be secondary to learning. Learning is a much wider concept which relates to grades under the assessment category only. Learners benefit from practical areas of learning, application of concepts, feedback and group work. A significant change in performance occurs when students are not told about their work being graded or included in the final report. Teachers should be trained in this regard to cope up with students’ psychology.
This one is a typical example at schools; not only teachers but all adults consider students as hardworking or better performers if they are capable of being test takers and grade makers. A typical not so good child is generally the one who can’t perform well or is a failure. This is exactly how we view our students. Building their career is important than shaping their personality. No matter how good they are in music class or what a phenomenal actor they depict. Whether they play football or tennis, and paint like a mature artist. These things don’t matter to us mostly because of our curriculum requirements, and competition with other schools. We tend to manufacture students in moulds, but in fact we should discover their capabilities and create better opportunities for them.
Looking at the broader perspective:
We need to see the world beyond grades. When a student doesn’t perform well we as teachers and mentors need to observe the changes in their behavior. Sometimes what they really need is to talk it out with someone. Counselors at schools are efficient in this regard, they help students recover from various traumatic situations.
Most of the time students want us to know how they feel. They try to make up statements in their mind saying; I am not my grade. At this moment they want us to know that they are capable of achieving grades but they hesitate and not try because they fear failure. They want to tell the world that they are not a disappointment even though they let their teachers and classmates down by not doing right during a group project. They can do much more than that, so why can’t the system look at the things they do right instead of the things they do wrong?
It’s about time that we start celebrating little achievements and forget about competition, tests and performances for a change. Let’s embrace an abundance approach with our learners on building strengths, highlighting weaknesses but simultaneously finding solutions to it. Our students are our assets. We need to protect them and abandon deficit approaches in our schools.
Realization is the key and change is what we need!