How to Reduce Student Failure

To all the teachers out there, being a student is challenging, and you should know it! It comes with many responsibilities and duties one could never think of, even if it comes handy in the long term. It ultimately teaches pupils how to deal with people they dislike, environments they are not comfortable with, and situations that seem to have no get outs; but most importantly, being a student teaches them how to fail and get back on their feet immediately after.

So, remember – there’s no such thing as a failing student. Whenever there’s failure, there should be acceptance and understanding. If you are prepared to offer that, failures are not failures anymore – they’re required lessons for your students’ evolution. So, if you are still wondering what good teachers do when students fail, you are in the right place.

Here’s how you can transform those “failures” into successful life lessons for them and help them get the best out of their situation. Be a mentor, not a boss. Be a leader, lead them right.

  1. Keep an Open Relationship

If you are not open with your students, they will not be able to open up either. Safety, comfort, and a feeling of belonging are all very important attributes students will require from their mentor. Make sure you provide the openness and affection that comes with your job description. Help them feel safe and comfortable opening up to you. Don’t judge them for what they think and under no circumstances choose for them. Help them get to their own conclusions by their own means. If you are not able to help them out with everything because of time concerns, ask someone at to do it for you. The staff is friendly and welcoming and super-excited about helping reduce student failure!

  1. Encourage Them

Even when your students are failing, they still need support from their class leader. They might not do well, but they will eventually do worse if you will not be there for them. Encouragement in the classroom is always encouraged (ha-ha!), so make sure you provide support for your students. You can increase their motivation and build rapport with them by preparing cool and engaging lessons, give them options (not a standard curriculum), and implements creative programs that speak to their true potential. If they see that they can do better than they are doing now, their motivation will automatically increase, and their attitudes will change.

  1. Help Them Grow

Being a great teacher means helping your students grow instead of punishing them for their mistakes. Being able to understand where they come from will facilitate your ability to guide them towards their path and ultimate goals. If you keep an open relationship with them, are honest and open, you will nevertheless help them grow.

For instance, one of my favorite approaches to increasing student interest is designing a cool activity called, “find out your passion.” As soon as they realize where their interest really lies, your job becomes easier and their involvement skyrockets. It’s a win-win situation perfectly suitable for increasing their awareness and decreasing what some might call “failure.”

  1. Ask Before Telling

Many teachers are under the impression that telling students what to do is really going to help them – wrong! Telling students what to do is only going to make them not want to do that exact thing. If you listen before telling, you might find out exactly what they need and help them climb that success ladder instead of giving out erroneous advice and setting them up for failure.

So, what you should do is ask before telling. Ask them how they feel, how they see their lives, how they are doing, and why they do not feel motivated at all. Ask them what they need and then, provide the right education. Provide what they actually need, not what you think they need.

  1. Check the Background

Getting to know your students personally is more important than anything else. However, this might come slowly. Your students might not be able to open up as soon as you want them to, which is why you must be patient. If needed, talk to their parents about your desire to know them better and see how they react. Get a gist of their background and see where they are coming from. Ask them about themselves and be truly interested, but make sure you keep a certain distance necessary in any student-teacher relationship.

  1. Answer the WHYs

Students ask many WHY-questions and some professors are unwilling or unable to answer them. When that happens, students become disappointed and lack purpose. That’s why you must learn how to answer their questions properly and in due time. That doesn’t mean letting your guard down and allowing them to be rude – if they need to be corrected, correct them. If they make mistakes, help them solve them. But be judgement-free and make helping them your purpose.


In the end, your students’ success is all about your ability to help them succeed. It’s 60% your work and 40% theirs, regardless of what people usually think. If you are not open, honest, and willing to help them receive the best education, they will be unwilling to learn and overcome failure. Communication is the key – use it wisely.

Elizabeth Skinner has been an ESOL professor for eight years now, helping students achieve success quickly and develop their abilities promptly. Her work in third world countries has been reviewed and applauded by the wider public. Working as a content writer to afford traveling, Elizabeth has written many books and published numerous articles on student success.