10 Ways Teachers Can Help Learners from Disadvantaged Backgrounds in the Classroom

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Disadvantaged learners are students who face barriers to learning due to factors such as poverty, low-income families, cultural diversity, learning difficulties, or disabilities. Supporting these learners is crucial for ensuring equity and quality in education, as well as for improving their academic and life outcomes.

However, learners from disadvantaged backgrounds often face challenges such as low self-esteem, lack of motivation, limited access to resources, and low expectations. These challenges can affect their learning and achievement, as well as their social and emotional well-being.

As a teacher, you have the power and responsibility to support these learners and help them overcome their challenges. In this article, we will provide you with 10 actionable strategies that you can use in your classroom to support disadvantaged learners and create an inclusive and effective learning environment.

10 Actionable Strategies Teachers Can Use In Their Classroom To Support Disadvantaged Learners And Create An Inclusive And Effective Learning Environment.

1. Build Strong Relationships

One of the most important strategies for supporting disadvantaged learners is to build strong relationships with them. Relationships are the foundation of learning, and they can have a significant impact on students’ motivation, engagement, and achievement.

To build strong relationships, you need to create a safe and supportive classroom environment where students feel valued, respected, and cared for. You also need to offer personalized support and guidance to individual students, and show interest in their lives, interests, and goals.

Additionally, you need to partner with families and communities to understand students’ backgrounds, needs, and aspirations better. By involving parents and families in their child’s education, you can increase their involvement and support, as well as foster a sense of belonging and trust.

2. High Expectations and Scaffolding

Another key strategy for supporting disadvantaged learners is to set high expectations for them, and provide them with the necessary scaffolding to meet them. High expectations can boost students’ confidence, motivation, and achievement, as well as challenge them to reach their full potential.

However, high expectations alone are not enough. You also need to provide differentiated instruction and scaffolding to meet individual learning needs. Scaffolding is the process of providing temporary support and guidance to help students master a skill or concept. For example, you can use modeling, questioning, feedback, hints, or prompts to scaffold students’ learning.

Moreover, you need to use a variety of teaching methods and resources to cater to different learning styles and preferences. For example, you can use visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or multimodal approaches to present information and engage students. You can also use technology and online tools to enhance learning and accessibility.

3. Culturally Responsive Pedagogy

Culturally responsive pedagogy is a teaching approach that integrates students’ cultural backgrounds and experiences into the curriculum. It aims to make learning more relevant, meaningful, and respectful for students from diverse backgrounds.

To implement culturally responsive pedagogy, you need to:

  • Recognize and value the diversity and richness of your students’ cultures and identities.
  • Use culturally relevant examples and resources to connect learning to students’ lives and contexts.
  • Promote cultural understanding and respect within the classroom and beyond.
  • Encourage students to share their perspectives and experiences, and learn from each other.

By doing so, you can increase students’ engagement, participation, and achievement, as well as foster a sense of belonging and pride.

4. Explicit Instruction and Feedback

Explicit instruction and feedback are essential for supporting disadvantaged learners, especially those who may lack prior knowledge, vocabulary, or skills. Explicit instruction is the process of clearly and directly teaching key concepts and vocabulary, especially those that may not be familiar to students. Explicit instruction can help students acquire and retain new information, as well as develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Feedback is the process of providing regular and specific information to help students understand their progress and improve their learning. Feedback can help students identify their strengths and weaknesses, set goals, and monitor their own learning. Feedback can also motivate and encourage students to keep trying and learning.

To provide effective feedback, you need to:

  • Focus on the learning objectives and criteria, not the person or the product.
  • Provide positive and constructive feedback, highlighting what students did well and what they can improve.
  • Provide timely and frequent feedback, preferably during or soon after the learning activity.
  • Provide actionable and specific feedback, suggesting concrete steps or strategies that students can use to improve.
  • Utilize technology and online tools to provide feedback and track students’ progress.

5. Collaboration and Teamwork

Collaboration and teamwork are valuable skills for learning and life, and they can also benefit disadvantaged learners in many ways. Collaboration and teamwork can:

  • Enhance students’ social and communication skills, such as listening, speaking, negotiating, and resolving conflicts.
  • Promote peer-learning and support networks, where students can learn from and help each other.
  • Increase students’ engagement, motivation, and confidence, as they work towards a common goal and share their ideas and opinions.
  • Foster a sense of community and belonging, as students work with diverse and inclusive groups.

To foster collaboration and teamwork, you need to:

  • Design meaningful and authentic collaborative tasks that require students to work together and share their knowledge and skills.
  • Provide clear and shared expectations and roles for each group member, as well as guidelines and rubrics for assessing group work.
  • Monitor and facilitate group work, providing support and feedback as needed.
  • Encourage students to reflect on their group work, and celebrate their achievements and efforts.

Related Read: How to Boost Collaboration in the Classroom with Proximity and Non-Verbal Cues

6. Addressing Learning Barriers

Some disadvantaged learners may face additional learning barriers due to learning difficulties or disabilities. These barriers can affect their academic performance, as well as their social and emotional well-being. Therefore, it is important to address these barriers and provide appropriate support and accommodations to these learners.

To address learning barriers, you need to:

  • Early identify and intervene for students with learning difficulties or disabilities, using screening tools, assessments, and observations – 5 Easy Ways To Identify Slow Learner Students – Complete Guide
  • Provide differentiated instruction and support to meet specific needs, such as modifying the curriculum, instruction, assessment, or environment.
  • Collaborate with special education teachers and other professionals, such as psychologists, counselors, or therapists, to develop and implement individualized education plans (IEPs) or other interventions.
  • Involve students and their families in the decision-making and planning process, and respect their preferences and choices.

7. Social-Emotional Learning

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process of developing and applying the skills, attitudes, and values that enable individuals to understand and manage their emotions, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. SEL is crucial for all students, but especially for disadvantaged learners, who may experience stress, trauma, or adversity in their lives.

To integrate SEL into your classroom, you need to:

  • Teach and model the five core SEL competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
  • Incorporate SEL activities and strategies into the curriculum, such as journaling, mindfulness, role-playing, or games.
  • Support students’ mental health and well-being, and provide them with coping skills and resources.
  • Create a positive and caring classroom climate, where students feel safe, respected, and valued.

8. Community Partnerships

Community partnerships are collaborations between schools and community organizations, such as nonprofits, businesses, or government agencies, to provide additional resources and support to students. Community partnerships can benefit disadvantaged learners in many ways, such as:

  • Providing access to academic, social, or health services, such as tutoring, mentoring, counseling, or medical care.
  • Offering opportunities for students to participate in extracurricular activities, such as sports, arts, or clubs.
  • Enhancing students’ learning and career readiness, such as through internships, field trips, or guest speakers.
  • Connecting students with their local community, and fostering a sense of civic engagement and responsibility.

To establish and maintain community partnerships, you need to:

  • Identify the needs and interests of your students and your school, and seek out potential partners who can address them.
  • Communicate and coordinate with your partners, and establish clear goals, roles, and expectations for each party.
  • Evaluate and monitor the effectiveness and impact of the partnership, and seek feedback from students, families, and partners.
  • Appreciate and acknowledge your partners, and maintain a positive and respectful relationship.

9. Advocacy and Awareness

Advocacy and awareness are the actions of speaking up and raising awareness about issues that affect disadvantaged learners and the importance of equity in education. Advocacy and awareness can help to:

  • Influence policies and practices that support all students, regardless of background, and ensure fair and equal access to quality education.
  • Educate others about the challenges faced by disadvantaged learners and the strategies that can help them succeed.
  • Empower students to become advocates for themselves and their communities, and to voice their opinions and needs.

To advocate and raise awareness, you need to:

  • Stay informed and updated about the issues and trends that affect disadvantaged learners and education in general.
  • Share your knowledge and experiences with others, such as colleagues, administrators, policymakers, or the media.
  • Participate in or organize events or campaigns that promote equity and inclusion in education, such as workshops, webinars, or petitions.
  • Support and join organizations or networks that advocate for disadvantaged learners and education, such as professional associations, unions, or coalitions.

10. Continuous Reflection and Growth

The last but not least strategy for supporting disadvantaged learners is to continuously reflect and grow as a teacher. Reflection and growth are essential for improving your teaching practices and outcomes, as well as for enhancing your professional and personal development.

To reflect and grow, you need to:

  • Reflect on your teaching practices and identify your strengths and areas for improvement, using data, feedback, or self-assessment tools.
  • Seek professional development opportunities to learn more about supporting disadvantaged learners, such as courses, workshops, webinars, or books.
  • Collaborate with colleagues and share best practices and hallenges.


Supporting disadvantaged learners is a challenging but rewarding task for teachers. By using these 10 strategies, teachers can help these learners overcome their barriers and achieve their goals. Teachers can also create a more inclusive, engaging, and effective learning environment for all students. Teachers are also encouraged to seek additional resources and training on this topic to further develop their knowledge and skills. Supporting disadvantaged learners is not only a professional duty, but also a moral and social responsibility.


Content writer and SEO specialist for ICCOMIPE.org

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