I was honored last week to be asked to do a blog post about last week’s #edchat topic: “What teaching methods work best with at-risk students?
Betty Ray has a great guest blogger series going on based around various #edchat topics.
If you are not familiar with Edutopia as an organization or a resource, get acquainted! There are some wonderful resources, discussions and articles on their site and in their magazine.


  1. Reply

    MB: I took a look at the exchanges on that edutopia website and my head is spinning. There are positive and negative uses of labeling, but it seems that most of the respondents focused on the latter. As for the label "at-risk," the research indicates that it is any student at educational, economic, or social disadvantage. If students are not labeled then there is no way to properly allocate resources, for example.

    As for the main question of the topic, there is no simple concise answer. It almost sounds like a job interview question! I find the "best way" is to use whatever works and works consistently, as long as it is based on scientifically based research (MOST IMPORTANT!). No one "magic bullet" exists, although I note there are those among us who push particular strategies because they have some vested profit-driven interest in doing so.

    I strongly believe that anyone working with at-risk children should have a special education cert, degree, or some training/background at the very least. Special education is the necessary other half of the "big picture" of being a teacher. You cannot fully understand ALL children without it. I see so many teachers with Act 48 chasing tech-based and so-called "ed leadership" courses when they should be studying special ed instead. PDE has it right in requiring all el ed teachers to be dual certified by 2013. I believe all secondary ed teachers should be dual certified as well.

  2. Reply

    It is definitely true that in the inner city we teach a lot of 'unlabeled' special education students, those with learning disabilities that have not been formally identified. It is important that we have training in how to meet their needs.

    However, I worry that labeling students 'at-risk' makes them prone to become pity cases.

    Thanks for your thought provoking response!

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