The ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are leaving many teens struggling to cope mentally and emotionally.
Understandably, this additional stress, combined with the normal stress of high school, can be a recipe for disaster academically. We’ve heard from many concerned parents who are wondering how they can best support their teens’ academic development in the post-COVID world.
When it comes to seeking out academic support, some of the first people students can and should turn to are their teachers. But how can you empower your teen to be an effective self-advocate in a time of need?
Asking Teachers for Help: Active Learning vs. Passive Learning
The truth is that teachers love it when students ask them for help. But the key is for students to demonstrate that they’re an active participant in their learning, not just passive onlookers.
When students take a passive approach to learning, they may show up to a teacher’s office hours and expect the teacher to simply download all critical information into their brains. Passive learners frequently complain that they don’t know what to do, they can’t possibly figure it out, and they just need the answer so that they can finish an assignment.
Active learners, on the other hand, put in the effort to solve challenges on their own before seeking out the help of a teacher. They may express that they understand certain concepts, but not others; that they’re feeling in over their head and need some guidance; or that they’re interested in other resources that could help them figure something out.
So the first step in empowering your teen to ask a teacher for help is to nudge them toward an active learning approach. Now let’s take a look at what that approach looks like in practice.
The Best Way to Ask a Teacher for Help
Encourage your student to follow these tips before reaching out to a teacher for help:
Pinpoint exactly what they need help with.
Students should review all course materials to clarify precisely what concepts they’re struggling to grasp. This process could involve examining a mathematics problem to determine where they’re stuck or looking at the materials from the semester to identify where things went off the rails.
Try to find a solution first.
The internet isn’t just for TikTok and Snapchat! There are plenty of resources available where students can attempt to find their own solutions to a challenge before approaching a teacher. Parents can even get involved here. You never know, you might learn something yourself.
Prepare any questions in advance.
The last thing a teacher wants to hear is a general, “I don’t get it” from a student. Students should write down specific questions before asking for help.
Email teachers with a heads up.
You’d be surprised how many problems can be addressed directly via email. Sending teachers an email outlining specific problems allows the teacher to determine the ideal next steps.
If your student needs academic support outside of what their teacher can provide, they may benefit from a subject tutor. Tutors can help students understand and retain the subject material and, most importantly, develop a lifelong love of learning.