Empowering Struggling Students: A Comprehensive Guide for Teachers

Teachers play a critical role in the lives of students. They are responsible for imparting knowledge, developing skills, and nurturing positive attitudes. However, teaching can be a challenging task, especially when dealing with struggling students. Struggling students are those who face difficulties in learning, retaining, and applying new knowledge. They require additional support and attention from their teachers to succeed academically and socially. In this article, we will discuss ways to empower struggling students and help them overcome their academic challenges.

Understanding Struggling Students

Before discussing how to empower struggling students, it is important to understand their needs and challenges. Struggling students can be characterized by several factors, including low academic performance, lack of motivation, poor self-esteem, and behavioral issues. They may have difficulty with specific subjects or concepts, struggle with organization and time management, or have personal or family issues that impact their learning.

Research has shown that struggling students are more likely to drop out of school, suffer from depression, and experience social isolation (Crawford & Kirby, 2013). Therefore, it is essential for teachers to identify struggling students and provide them with appropriate support.

Strategies to Empower Struggling Students

There are several strategies that teachers can use to empower struggling students. These strategies involve providing academic and emotional support, creating a positive learning environment, and promoting self-efficacy.

Academic Support

Academic support involves providing struggling students with additional instruction, practice, and feedback. Teachers can use various methods to provide academic support, including differentiated instruction, peer tutoring, and small-group instruction.

Differentiated instruction involves tailoring instruction to meet the individual needs of students. Teachers can use a variety of instructional methods, materials, and assessments to differentiate instruction. For example, teachers can provide struggling students with additional practice worksheets, simplify the language in instructions, or use graphic organizers to help them organize their ideas.

Peer tutoring involves pairing struggling students with higher-performing peers who can provide academic support. Peer tutors can help struggling students with homework, practice problems, and review sessions.

Small group instruction involves grouping struggling students with similar academic needs and providing targeted instruction. Teachers can use small group instruction to teach specific skills, such as reading comprehension, math fluency, or writing skills.

Emotional Support

Emotional support involves creating a safe and supportive learning environment for struggling students. Teachers can use various methods to provide emotional support, including positive feedback, praise, and encouragement.

Positive feedback involves acknowledging and praising struggling students for their efforts and progress. Teachers can use positive feedback to build self-esteem and promote a growth mindset.

Praise involves acknowledging struggling students for their achievements and successes. Teachers can use praise to motivate struggling students and reinforce positive behaviors.

Encouragement involves providing struggling students with support and motivation. Teachers can encourage struggling students by providing them with opportunities to succeed, setting achievable goals, and celebrating their progress.

Positive Learning Environment

Creating a positive learning environment involves establishing a classroom culture that promotes learning, respect, and collaboration. Teachers can use various methods to create a positive learning environment, including setting clear expectations, establishing routines, and promoting student engagement.

Setting clear expectations involves establishing rules and procedures that promote learning and respect. Teachers can use clear expectations to establish a safe and orderly learning environment.

Establishing routines involves creating consistent and predictable classroom procedures that promote student independence and responsibility. Teachers can use routines to reduce distractions and promote student engagement.

Promoting student engagement involves providing students with opportunities to participate in learning activities, collaborate with peers, and make decisions about their learning. Teachers can use student engagement to promote motivation, interest, and ownership of learning.


Promoting self-efficacy involves helping struggling students develop confidence in their ability to learn and succeed. Teachers can use various methods to promote self-efficacy, including setting achievable goals, providing opportunities for success, and promoting a growth mindset.

Setting achievable goals involves helping struggling students set goals that are specific, measurable, and attainable. Teachers can use goal-setting to help struggling students develop a sense of purpose and direction.

Providing opportunities for success involves giving struggling students opportunities to experience success and build confidence in their abilities. Teachers can provide opportunities for success by offering small, achievable tasks and assignments that build on students’ strengths.

Promoting a growth mindset involves encouraging struggling students to see challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. Teachers can promote a growth mindset by emphasizing effort, persistence, and the power of “yet” (i.e., “I don’t understand this yet”).


Empowering struggling students requires a comprehensive approach that addresses their academic and emotional needs, creates a positive learning environment, and promotes self-efficacy. By using differentiated instruction, peer tutoring, and small group instruction, teachers can provide struggling students with the academic support they need to succeed. By using positive feedback, praise, and encouragement, teachers can provide struggling students with the emotional support they need to feel safe and motivated. By creating a positive learning environment that promotes respect, collaboration, and engagement, teachers can provide struggling students with a sense of belonging and purpose. And by promoting self-efficacy through goal-setting, opportunities for success, and a growth mindset, teachers can help struggling students develop the confidence and resilience they need to succeed academically and socially.

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