Faculty Support for Struggling Students

Center for Teaching and Learning logo
September 23, 2021

By Caitlin Hickox
English for Speakers of Other Languages and Writing Instructor
Center for Teaching and Learning Coordinator

With the return to more in-person classes this fall, we’re all seeing more students face-to-face, observing behaviors and listening to their challenges. The Cyclones CARE team exists to intervene with students who are struggling but also to provide support to faculty and staff on the front line of seeing or hearing about their struggles.

As you know, there are a wide variety of issues a student might disclose to you or a wide variety of concerning behaviors you might witness, and they might not be the most straightforward. The most important thing you can do for a student is to refer them on to a resource at the college or report the behavior so someone can intervene before the situation gets worse. If you are concerned about a student, don’t let uncertainty stop you from taking action.

The first step is recognizing the behavior as concerning. Examples include, but are not limited to, disturbing content in assignments, excessive absences, mentions relationship or financial challenges, makes statements of hopelessness. You might not even be sure what it is, but something seems “wrong.”

The next is responding to the student, firstly by expressing care and concern yourself. Your response is particularly important, but can also be particularly challenging, when a student is visibly distressed. De-escalate and support the student:

  • Keep your voice calm
  • Listen to the person
  • Avoid continuous eye contact
  • Ask how you can help
  • Offer options instead of trying to take control
  • Give them space
  • Don’t make judgmental comments
  • Don’t argue or try to reason with the person

Distressed students need to be heard and helped.

After providing support to the student yourself, help them connect with the resources they need. Trust your instincts and report concerns to ensure the student gets help.  Don’t forget to take care of yourself too. Having a troubled student can take a toll on your personal well-being as well.

Check out our website to find guidance on specific situations, resources to refer students to, and the Cyclones CARE Form link to report a student’s concerning behavior: https://www.sctcc.edu/cyclones-care

Kate Wallace
Posted in News, ctl