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How To: Adjust Your Teaching Style to Your Students' Learning Style
How to Home
How To: Adjust Your Teaching Styles to Students' Learning Styles
How To: Develop as a Professional
How To: Implement Standards, Curriculum, and Assessment

Recognizing Students At Risk
Benna Golubtchik

I have a dream ....... that all my students are self-motivated, quick to learn, and adaptable to any activity I may give them.

But I also have a reality ........ that some students, for a variety of reasons, do not find school a rewarding experience. These students may be considered at risk; they are students who do not adapt well to the traditional school culture. This may be due to outside distractions, emotional difficulties, or learning disabilities. Although it is difficult to generalize, I will attempt to identify some of the behaviors which make school difficult for some youngsters and may put them at risk for dropping out of school before they have completed their education.

  • Have low motivation
  • Possess short attention spans
  • Are easily frustrated
  • Are highly distractable
  • Need more time on task because they process information more slowly
  • May miss chunks of information because they are concentrating very hard on other things
  • Lack organizational skills
  • Learn best from stories and metaphors
  • Are inconsistent in their academic achievement
  • Like to learn by doing (kinesthetic)
  • Respond best to personal relationships
  • Need concrete, hands on learning opportunities
  • May have skills and talents that are not recognized or developed in school (athletic ability, artistic ability, social skills)

The vast majority of at risk students have a kinesthetic or auditory learning preference. If we look at these students as those whose learning styles are incompatible with teaching and testing styles, we open up a wide range of possible solutions. These students often are not "learning disabled," but "learning different." For more information on learning styles, check out this web site: http://cslcenter.com/docs/Articles/art%20Why%20use%20LS%20ok.pdf AND http://teachersnetwork.org/ntol/howto/adjust.

The goal of teachers is to take at risk students and bring them back into the educational mainstream, even as the educational mainstream itself is adjusting to higher standards. The challenge is to create lifelong learners, regardless of learning style, so that all students can reach their maximum potential. (See also How To Create a Multisensory Classroom).


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