For Teachers

How Teachers Can Help Prevent High School Dropouts

By The Room 241 Team January 29, 2013

The national high school dropout rate is far too high, and many students are leaving high school without the skills and credentials they need to become successful, productive members of society. While every professional working in a school can work to prevent high school dropouts, teachers have a unique ability to reach individual students on a more personal level. Unfortunately, many teachers don’t know¬†how to help prevent students from dropping out.

Here are some effective strategies teachers can use to improve retention rates and encourage their students to finish high school.

Alternative schooling

Some students drop out of high school because they don’t believe they are learning anything useful. They don’t plan to go to college, and they feel that the subject matter being taught is inappropriate for their future. If a teacher identifies this problem, he or she can encourage the student to transfer to an alternative program, such as a vocational school. Such programs award high school diplomas but allow students to learn skills for certain careers they plan to pursue, such as mechanical skills.

Individualized attention

When students are struggling and falling behind their peers, they may drop out of school because they feel hopeless. Teachers can prevent this tragedy by working with the student one-on-one to help him or her catch up to the rest of the class. This process may involve tutoring, assigning make-up work or offering extra credit. If the teacher doesn’t have time to work with the student herself, she can also refer the student to another tutor or mentor.

Being proactive

Teachers often believe that they only need to worry about high school dropouts if they work with high school students. Unfortunately, many students start on the path to dropping out much earlier. To prevent future failures, teachers of elementary and middle school students should always look for students who seem to be struggling with the subject matter, as well as those who are uninterested in school. Identifying these students early on and working to improve their educational experience may prevent them from dropping out of high school years later.

Offering encouragement

Students who drop out of high school often suffer from low self-esteem. Teachers can address this problem by working to build each struggling student’s confidence in his or her abilities. With a little encouragement from a caring teacher, some students find the strength to keep going until graduation.

Emphasizing the importance of education

Few students realize just how important it is to finish high school. If a teacher learns that a student is struggling or planning to drop out, she can help prevent the student from leaving by talking to the student about the importance of graduation. Some effective strategies include showing the student jobs that require a high school degree, reading statistics about high school dropouts and simply asking the student what careers he or she is most interested in. Chances are, the student’s ideal career will require a high school diploma.

Students who drop out of high school often struggle to find jobs, support themselves and create a successful, enjoyable life. By taking an interest, however, teachers can prevent many of these students from ever leaving high school in the first place.

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