About The Thrivapy Blog

I created The Thrivapy Blog to share my thoughts and ideas about living a learning lifestyle.

For more, visit my website: www.thrivapy.com
Thank You,
Dr. Troy P. Roddy

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Student Support Systems

If you stop to think about it, your school probably has a number of items in place to support students. Teachers, coaches, advisors, counselors, principals, assistant principals, office assistants - the list can be quite long.

Then factor in the support from outside the school. This includes parents, siblings, relatives, tutors, and doctors.

For many students support is all around them. Sometimes, though, in the heat of the moment students can forget about the team supporting them, turn their frustration inward, and begin to feel alone in their struggles. This is why a system of support is useful.

A system brings the support pieces together and helps provide a level of support greater than any one piece can provide in isolation. However, pieces of the system need to fit together in order to function well. Each part has a specific role. When one part tries (even with best of intentions) to do another's piece, the system works awkwardly and eventually is less supportive overall.

Think about student support as a book case. All the parts need to fit together in order for the case to stand straight. The weight of the books is distributed across the shelves which are braced by the sides. The sides are held in place by the top and back pieces. Also, without the pegs to hold the shelves up, the case would be worthless. Finally, books are also used to hold other books in place (which is why the closest layer of student support is often another student). 

Fitting together requires a clear objective. Once a clear objective is shared by all parts, each support piece can more easily trust that the others are "on board" and attending to their responsibilities. In my experience, this is where student support systems begin to break down. The goal of the support system is unclear or not shared. In other words, different parts are trying to address different goals. In terms of student support, I have found this breakdown usually centers around grades and student performance.

Allow me to offer a starting point for bringing this issue to an understanding.

Just as a book case does not guarantee a book will be on the top shelf, student support systems are not in place to guarantee A's and B's. Book cases help keep books organized and help prevent them from falling to the floor. Student support systems should help students stay organized and help them from falling too far when learning gets hard.

And, at some point, it will get hard.

Support systems are also not in place to do the work of the student for them. Support does, however, provide guidance and help students find the path to learning needed at the time. Just as a book case cannot tell the story - only provide a way for you to better find the story you are looking for.

Being a student is tough at times and every student deserves opportunities to learn. Knowing what learning looks like and establishing clarity on the purpose of student support can help provide the environment needed to help make this happen.