Teaching Students How to Ask for Help
Why do students find it difficult to approach their lecturers and seek additional assistance? Why are they sitting in quiet or in a state of bewilderment when raising their hand could result in assistance? Students’ academic achievement, self-esteem, and, ultimately, their future access to learning might be negatively impacted if they do not ask for assistance. A variety of factors contribute to students’ reluctance to ask for assistance; nevertheless, the good news is that numerous ways can help them become more effective advocates for their education.
Students must first acknowledge that they are experiencing difficulties. Because some students do not believe they require assistance even when formal or informal assessments suggest they do, honesty and self-awareness are essential in this endeavor.
When students admit that they are having difficulties, they may experience feelings of guilt or humiliation. “I want to be independent and attempt it on my own,” several pupils have expressed to me. “I don’t require assistance.” They believe that asking for help indicates a lack of strength or failure in their character, although adults can remind them that asking for help is a sign of maturity and strength.
Teachers can assist students in understanding how they learn best and empowering them to be champions for their learning by instructing them on how to ask for and receive assistance.
5 STRATEGIES FOR IMPROVING STUDENTS’ SELF-ADVOCACY SKILLS
1 – Improve students’ metacognitive skills: Improving students’ self-reflection and metacognitive skills is one technique for assisting students in acknowledging that they require assistance. Even though teachers and parents are frequently called upon to serve as external monitors of student progress, they can begin to transfer the burden of self-monitoring to students as early as elementary school.
With explicit metacognitive instruction, teachers can encourage and support students in thinking critically about their learning. After a test, for example, ask students to respond to questions regarding how they studied, how much time they spent studying, their test grade, and what they plan to do differently on the next test after they have completed the test.
Students learn to measure their progress by asking open-ended questions about their learning. This helps them identify areas where they are strong and those where they require additional assistance. Teachers can add metacognitive cues such as the following into their lessons:
This endeavor necessitated a significant amount of effort. What steps did you take to prepare?
What do you think your performance in this class is? How did you find out? I’m curious how this compares to the graded work you’ve already received.
Can you tell me about a method you’ve been employing that has shown to be fruitful? Can you think of one method that you’d like to try out more frequently?
2. Make it clear to pupils that teachers are there to assist them: Interrogating kids of any age about why an adult might choose to become a teacher can be an eye-opening—and frequently humorous—experience.
As a class, ask students to pause and reflect in small groups on why they believe Teacher X chose to become a teacher. If Teacher X can attend your classroom and hear the ideas that have been developed, it will be even more enjoyable. Students should be guided to the final answer: “Teachers become teachers because they enjoy assisting others.”
This exercise has been done at the beginning of the school year to foster relationships with kids and to demonstrate to them that I care about them and want to assist them. This enables me to speak to my kids in a fun manner about the importance of asking for help.
3. Come up with conversation starters: Students who are introverted or shy may feel intimidated or apprehensive about starting a discussion with their teacher. Building confidence via the practice or role-playing this type of communication might be beneficial for shy students. Teachers can also propose that pupils use only two words to indicate that they require assistance: “I’m having difficulty.”
Evidence suggests that encouraging kids to brainstorm boosts their mental flexibility and ability to solve problems creatively. After they’ve come up with ideas for how to start a conversation, ask them to role-play conversing with a teacher. This can be done in a classroom setting as a small group exercise or one-on-one with a trusted teacher, social worker, parent, or other professional.
Students can approach teachers with conversation openers, such as the ones listed below:
I’m having trouble with it. Is it okay if we talk about it later?
I’m putting up much effort, but I’m still having difficulty understanding. Are you able to assist me?
I’m not sure what I’m looking for. Could you please sit down with me and talk?
Can you provide me with some suggestions?
4. Establish a safe working environment: A safe environment is necessary for students to be vulnerable and honest enough to ask for assistance. Would you be brave enough to speak out and acknowledge you needed assistance if you were afraid your peers would laugh at you?
Teachers should foster a climate of inquiry, risk-taking, and openness among their students. Increase the sense of community in your classroom by engaging in team-building activities, creating visual aids to remind students of your classroom rules and principles, or displaying motivational quotes on the walls of your classroom.
Another excellent method is for teachers to use their self-talk when engaging in activities that require them to take risks. My failures as an educator provide me with the opportunity to talk about imperfection and how to be resilient with the students I work with. Students delight in spotting their teacher making a mistake, and I delight in it when they do the same for me because it allows me to remind them that everyone, including themselves, is flawed.
5. Encourage students to believe in their ability to succeed: To ask for help, students must first believe in their ability to succeed on their terms. Students who feel discouraged or powerless will be less likely to seek assistance in the future.
Provide students with opportunities and activities in your classroom that will allow them to identify and showcase their personal qualities. One project for elementary classes is the creation of an “I Am” bulletin board, which includes the following: Create five or ten “I Am” statements for each student, such as “I am strong,” “I am good at basketball,” and so on. After that, have students choose images online or in publications that illustrate their statements and combine them to create a collage of words and images, as seen below.
I recommend an “Expertise” bulletin board for secondary classes, which looks like this: When asked to list two or three expert-level talents, students (and teachers) can say things like, “I’m an expert at spelling,” “I’m a geography expert—I can name all of the state capitals,” and so on. Display these on a school bulletin board so that when students require assistance, they can look to the board to find a classmate—or a teacher—who can assist them with their problem.