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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

At Risk Students in K-12 Classrooms

The primary reason I am studying to be a teacher is to help at-risk students succeed and make an impact in young children’s lives. Many teachers go into the teaching profession because they want to help students succeed academically. When I worked at an after school program at a title I school I realized that there was a lot of students who truly needed help. They were coming from low income families, sometimes they were even coming from abusive homes. It was very upsetting to see these students do poorly on their work and have so many behavioral issues. I, like many other of my fellow aspiring teachers, want to help students like these succeed in every aspect of their life.
Some factors that can cause a student to be labeled “at-risk” label according to the National Center for Educational Statistics are having a low socioeconomic status, living in a single-parent home , changing schools at non-traditional time, being held back in school through grade retention, and negative peer pressure. Yet there are many other situations that may arise that make a student at-risk such as homelessness, incarceration, teen pregnancies, domestic violence, etc. At-risk students are those students who are more likely to fail academically and less likely to graduate.

There are many ways that a teacher can help students who are dealing with homelessness. Helping the students have basic needs such as food, water, clothing and shelter. A teacher can do this by giving the student the appropriate resources, such as where there are local shelters available and keeping some nutritional snacks in the classroom to help fight their hunger. Also, another thing to keep in mind is not to ask students who have unstable living conditions to bring treats to the class (on Halloween, Valentine’s Day, birthdays, etc). Sometimes a teacher may not know what the living situations of a student or their economical status are like, so it is important to make sure that bringing food items or treats for the class are optional and not required.

If a teacher finds out that they are welcoming a homeless student to their class it is important to do a small math, reading, and writing assessment to determine the student’s abilities. This should be done so that a teacher is not teaching the student below or above their ability while schools records are obtained from previous schools that student attended. It’s

Finding the time to check in with students can also be very crucial, especially if that student is going through a tough time. It is important for that student to know that their teacher wants what is best for them and is willing to help. The teacher needs to make sure that everything is going well at school and at home for the student.

It is important for teacher to have a clear set of rules, set expectations, and have a consistent daily routine and this is extremely important when working with at-risk students. Even though it may be challenging, it is also a good idea to plan assignments that do not need to be taken home. A lot of at-risk students will not achieve anything at home because of issues they are facing. For homeless students especially, they may fall asleep during class. It may be beneficial for them to let them sleep for a while because they may need the rest from living in a car or shelter.

If a student needs extra help or tutoring and he is at risk, their teacher should be proactive about helping the student find a tutor through the school or a community program that can help the student with any academic difficulties. Another good idea is to provide special materials needed for a project for any at-risk students, they may be unable to gain access to those materials because of their situations at home.

As a teacher I will teach my students to be tolerant of others. I will teach them to celebrate diversity and differences. It is important to talk about topics such as homelessness, poverty, and racism, so that students are aware of what is happening around them. If students know that injustice is happening, they can think of ways to stop it and become more tolerant and create social change. I definitely feel that it is my duty as a teacher to plant the seed for social change in my students and also to be a role model for them by helping my community as much as I can.

Reference list

“At-Risk Definition.” The Glossary of Education Reform. Great Schools Partnership, 15 May 2013. Web. 15 July 2016.

Maronek, Mary. How Teachers Can Help Students Who Are Homeless (n.d.): n. pag. Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Education for Homeless Children and Youth, Feb. 2011. Web. 7 July 2016.


This course overall definitely integrated classroom and community-based experiential learning, which is one of Salt Lake Community College’s college-wide learning objectives. The service learning opportunity provides the community-based experiential learning and of course the discussions and signature assignments provide the classroom portion of it. Writing this assignment reminded me of why I am putting myself through college and pursuing a teaching career. It truly motivated me to keep up all my good work and do my best in all my remaining courses.

This assignment taught me a lot of different techniques used for dealing with at-risk students. I am very grateful to have all these amazing resources and be able to use them in the future to help my students. This assignment shows that I have an understanding of what having an at-risk student is and what I can do as a teacher to accommodate those students. This assignment also demonstrates that I have clear knowledge of steps that need to be taken if I ever happen to have a homeless student enter my classroom.

Appendix: Me as a Culturally Competent Teacher

I plan to keep myself informed about what is going on with minorities, immigrants, and political issues. I will also research more ways to help my students become culturally competent themselves. I am part of a minority group, so I do feel that I am at an advantage because I am more able to connect with my minority students especially those of Hispanic descent. I am also able to speak Spanish and I know that this will help me communicate a lot better than most teachers with students who have Spanish-speaking parents.

I do want to stay involved in the community I teach, maybe do some volunteer work on the side. I want to make sure that my students are well taken care of. If I don’t have the resources they need I will find them. It is also important to attend after-school events and to socialize with other parents and community members.

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