Every student aspires to learn at the same pace as everyone else in the classroom, but normally this is not really the case. There are students who lag behind and it is here that remedial teaching comes into the picture. This practice is there to provide support and assistance to the student so that they do not fall behind and avoid acquiring a “failure” mindset. Before we go further, let us first define the term.
What is Remedial Teaching?
Students who have difficulty grasping lessons in a classroom are provided with different educational strategies like more or refined practice, clarification, repetition of content, and in some cases, individual attention is given so that the concept gets picked up by the student.
Remedial teachers deploy requisite teaching activities and strategies to ensure the students perform to their full potential by overcoming any learning barriers. Most of these remedial programs are implemented at junior levels where the foundational education concepts are inculcated to the child.
Identifying Learning Difficulties
Remedial teaching starts with identifying the learning difficulties in the student. Once identified, the teacher needs to administer the remedial teaching while being aware of these difficulties. In a majority of cases, it is seen to have a positive impact on the student. These difficulties include:
- Poor memorization potential
- Low level of comprehension
- Lack of motivation towards learning
- Failure to understand instructions and implement them
- Inability to grasp abstract ideas
- Need additional time to complete certain task(s)
- Low self-assurance with minimum self-expectation
- Difficulties in problem-solving
How Does Remedial Teaching Differ from Special Education?
Most often, remedial teaching has been mistaken for special education and we need to make the distinction between the two. Remedial teaching specifically deals with concepts that have already been taught in the class and these are re-taught to students with learning disabilities. The underlying concept here is that students tend to learn at different speeds.
Special education on the other hand is meant for students with identified disabilities. It is customized for each student. Not every student who struggles in school is qualified to receive special education. Currently, there is a framework called Response to Intervention (RTI) that helps decide whether a child needs special education.
Pointers to Designing a Remedial Teaching Program
It has been observed that not all remedial programs are successful in helping a child. While designing a program, these pointers can be taken into account:
- Use proven teaching methodologies that have worked in the past
- Stick with a step-by-step approach without skipping material while adjusting to the learning speed of the student
- Include assessments and practice activities to help students recall what they have learned
- Develop a method to comprehensively evaluate a student to decide whether to move forward with the next lesson
- Create a multitude of tactics for instruction, in case the student does not assimilate the first time around
- Give instructions in small groups where there is a possibility for providing individual instructions
Principles in Good Remedial Teaching Programs
A teacher’s role is crucial in remedial programs and it has been observed that these can be governing principles for designing good remedial programs. Here we go:
- Preparation: Before preparing the lessons, there needs to be enough emphasis on identifying the diverse learning needs of the student, so that appropriate teaching plans are devised for effective learning.
- Learning Activities: Teachers must include an optimum number of learning activities to develop the latent learning abilities and problem-solving skills of students. Ideally, a series of learning activities can be created instead of one-long teaching activity.
- Learning Situations: It is good to create conducive learning situations in the form of games while making the tone of instructions more colloquial. This helps stimulate interest and create initiative towards learning.
- Teaching Approaches: Start with concrete examples before proceeding to abstract concepts. Devise easy and simple steps and proceed at a pace comfortable to the student. Teachers are encouraged to use teaching aids and even take the help of information technology and other teaching resources.
- Clear Instructions: Students with learning difficulties are challenged by the written language. Hence teachers must give clear and concise instructions to avoid ambiguity and confusion.
Proven Remedial Teaching Strategies
While there may be any number of strategies for remedial teaching, we now look into proven strategies that are known for being effective from the teachers’ point of view. Here they are:
- Individualized Education Plan (IEP): This is meant for children studying in primary and secondary grades. Here the child with an identified learning disability is provided with specialized instruction and related services. IEP is a collaborative approach that involves the child, their teachers, and family members.
Ideally, IEP needs to include short and long-term instructional goals, exercises, learning steps, and evaluations. Teachers in the plan are expected to solicit feedback from the students to improve their plan as they move along.
- Support Program: Students who excel at specific subjects can be trained to become “little teachers” to assist their peers with learning disabilities through “group teaching” inside and outside of the class. Such support programs help these brilliant students in reinforcing their subject expertise, develop communication skills and foster better interpersonal relationships.
- Reward Scheme: Teachers can devise programs wherein they reward students for setting their own goals and learning strategies. Teachers need to oversee whether these are clear, concrete, and achievable goals. Also, there can be the active involvement of parents in setting such goals. Overall, teachers need to be mindful of setting rewards aligned to the interests of the students and ensure the incentives are given out immediately on the achievement of these goals.
Learning has undergone a lot of change in recent years with improvements in science and technology. With a better understanding of our mental faculties, learning as behavior has also benefited from these advances. There are various novel approaches that have been devised to make learning more inclusive and effective.
Incidentally, technology has played an important role in transforming education with online learning becoming central to the current scheme of things. One such app in the market that has truly helped teachers with online teaching is Teachmint. With Teachmint, teachers have found a reliable medium/ platform to reach out to their students in these difficult times.