Need Help Eraser

  • Situation

    I have a student with behavioral challenges who refuses to ask for help when he gets stuck on a problem. I am his regular education teacher but there is an aide in the classroom to assist him. I don’t think he wants to stand out from his peers or “look stupid”. Eventually he gets frustrated, then we see behavior problems that disrupt the class. Any ideas?

  • Summary

    Asking for assistance seems like it should be such an easy thing to do however; for some kids it can be very difficult. They may not have the self-confidence or language skills to do so when needed. Some may feel that they would look stupid if they asked for help and would rather look like the “bad” kid versus the “stupid” kid. One easy way to increase the chances of your student asking for academic assistance is to give him a certain object, such as an eraser or pencil and teach him that when he gets stuck, all that he has to do is put the eraser in the corner of his desk. When you see it, you will come over to check how he is doing…it will look like you are just moving about the classroom checking on all of your students so he won’t feel “singled out”.

  • Definition

    Using a ‘need help eraser’ is a non-verbal strategy for students to use to ask for teacher assistance.

  • Quick Facts

    • Child's Age: 6-10, 11-13, 14-17
    • Planning Effort: Low
    • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Pre-requisites

    Recognize help is needed

  • Process

    1. Explain to your student that you understand that asking for help is difficult and that you want to help him. Reassure him that everyone needs help at some point, even you. (you can support with personal examples if you’d like)

    2. Tell him that you are giving him a specific eraser (or other item) to use when he gets stuck on something and needs help. He doesn’t have to raise his hand, just move the eraser to the corner of his desk. Explain that when you see it there, you will work your way over.

    3. Initially he may be resistant so you might have the classroom aide move the eraser when she sees him struggling, then you would follow by checking on him. It might make him less uncomfortable if the aide just walks by and moves the eraser, rather than her crouching down and asking him what is wrong. Getting help from the Regular Education teacher is more “cool” in some kids’ eyes.

    4. Positively reinforce him for using the strategy. (verbal praise or in some cases, tangibles reinforcers may be needed for students)

  • Documents and Related Resources


    This resource was authored by Watson Institute Special Education Consultant, Katie Bentz, M.Ed.

    If you have questions or concerns about the Watson Institute’s use of this information, please contact us.