If not caught early, some students will ultimately develop bad
habits when it comes to their ability to learn effectively. Teachers
are the ones who can catch these bad habits, as they are the ones
in close interaction with their students. Here are some ways to
help students break bad habits, and start to develop good ones.
It is important to remember to keep parents/guardians apprised
of what you are doing to help your students habits, so they can
reinforce these techniques at home as well.
Taking notes. Students who take notes in class have something
to study, and a way to recall what was learned about a particular
lesson. Students who are not in the habit of taking notes are
hurting their chances of acing that next quiz or test. To help
your students with the process of note-taking, provide them with
special paper that perhaps has coordinated borders with what you
are teaching. As the students leave your classroom, check to see
that they have written some notes, and place a check mark to indicate
that you acknowledge their efforts.
Procrastination. This is a nasty habit that keeps students
from working projects until it is almost too late to do a good
job. Procrastination is sometimes caused by a student's thinking
that because they have to complete an assignment, they are being
forced to do it, which leads them to feel an immediate resentment
towards the assignment. To combat procrastination you can try
rewording how you present an assignment, such as "We are going
to begin an assignment on Huckleberry Finn, which is not due until
November 10" instead of "You need to finish this assignment on
Huckleberry Finn by November 10." This may help lessen the anxiety
that is brought on by the need to get something done.
Goal setting. When a student is unsure about how to set
goals for themselves, they are left with nothing to achieve. Teachers
can help their students with goal setting by taking the time to
explain the importance of goals and how they will benefit the
learning process. As a class exercise, consider having your students
make goals together. Post these goals where all students can see
them clearly. Once that is done, you can then help students learn
techniques for developing personal academic goals, as well as
personal goals in life.
Study Habits. Or should we say, lack of study habits?
All too often students do not have study habits, or at least they
are very poor. Reading a chapter of a book the night before a
test is not a good way to study, as you know. Help your students
develop good study habits by:
- Encouraging them to develop a routine study time at home.
- Telling them how to set goals for what they want to achieve
during their study time.
- Teaching them how to pick out key vocabulary words and concepts
from what they are studying.
- Not encouraging study groups. Often times work does not get
done effectively when studying in groups (outside of the classroom).
Test taking. On an actual test day, some students may
rely on their memorization and recognition skills to get them
through the test. This is obviously detrimental to their ability
to perform well on the test. Memorization works in some cases,
such as spelling tests, but in other cases it will fail because
the student does not understand the material on the test entirely.
It is easy to memorize something and have no idea what it means.
On the other hand, some students think they will recognize the
right answer when they see it on paper, and that is simply not
To help your students develop good test taking skills you may
try to help your students internalize the material covered on
a test through practice questions and review questions. The same
techniques apply to relying on recognition. Discourage your students
from using recognition to get a test done.