How do you ask for help? How do your students ask for help? I have been in the enviable position this week of being an observer in my classroom while my student teacher took several excellent lessons. As a result I have been able to watch and listen as some of my students asked for help and others didn’t.. As the teacher in charge of class blogging in my school I have also been watching and listening to my fellow staff members ask for help, as they have grappled during the past few months with class blogging. As a result I have been reflecting on what makes some students and teachers readily ask for help and others to not do so.

I think for students, it is vital that they feel asking for help is what you expect them to do. But I also know that some students find this hard. To acknowledge that one has not understood a concept can be really difficult, especially for those students who struggle in class. I love to hear someone say ‘I just don’t get this’.  But I know that for some students, this admission is almost impossible for them to do out loud. To admit they need help, is seen as an admission of failure.

This week i have found myself wondering about those who should ask but do not. Is it because they are afraid to fail? Almost certainly. Is it because they are afraid to seem weak in front of their peers? Again almost certainly. Is it because they would rather keep quiet, stay in the background and not be noticed? Again almost certainly.So what do I do about this problem?

  • I encourage and praise students who ask for help out loud, who acknowledge their non-understanding.
  • I catch those I know will need help and quietly check they are okay.
  • I allow students to email me their questions.
  • I allow students to send me messages using edmodo.
  • I reply to individuals who do ask for help with links to videos that may assist their understanding.
  • I use buddy peers in class time, students teaching students can be a better way of explaining a concept.

It appears to me that many of my thoughts relate directly to the mindset of my students. I am hoping my questions may be answered by the book I am currently reading, Mindset by Carol Dweck. What I am interested in today though is, what do you do in your classroom? How do you assist your students to ask for help? How can teachers allow students to fail in such a way as to allow them to grow as learners? How can we help them to see that it is only through failure can we truly grow?

As to how I see my fellow teachers asking for help? And how do I ask for help? Well that is a thought for another post.

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  1. Anthony


    Completely agree with the expectation setting …

    I came across this the other day … used in a tertiary setting … but it was interesting how it made it permissible for the unsure/confused to register with the teacher that their message was not hitting the mark and leaving the students feeling they understood the material.


  2. Anthony

    I see my link was stripped from the comment. Will see if I can find it and send to you directly. It was an article about use of anonymous real time classroom feedback from students.