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3 Strategies to Improve Self-Advocacy Skills

Updated: 7 days ago

Students first need to recognize that they need help, and then they need to know that they’ll be supported when they ask for it.


Why do students struggle to ask teachers for extra help? Why do they sit in silence or confusion when raising their hand could bring help? Failure to ask for help can affect students’ academic performance, self-esteem, and potentially their access to learning in the future. There are several reasons why students struggle to ask for help, but the good news is that there are many strategies that can help them become stronger self-advocates for their learning.

  1. Strengthen students’ metacognition: One strategy to help students acknowledge that they need help is to strengthen their self-reflection and metacognitive skills. Teachers and parents often act as external monitors of student progress, but they can begin to shift the responsibility of self-monitoring to children as early as elementary school.

2. Ask open-ended questions Teachers can incorporate metacognitive prompts such as:

  • This project required a lot of hard work. How did you prepare for it?

  • How do you think you’re doing in this class? How do you know? How does this compare with graded work you’ve received so far?

  • Can you identify one strategy you’ve been using that has helped you to be successful? Can you identify one strategy you want to try using more often?

3. Brainstorm conversation starters: Students who are introverted or shy may feel overwhelmed or anxious about initiating a conversation with their teacher. Practicing or role-playing this kind of conversation can help shy students build confidence.


Here are 2 suggestions:

  • I’m not sure what I need. Can you please talk with me?

  • Can you give me advice about _____?

For more suggestions about increasing self-advocacy read my article on Edutopia.



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