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How to Help Shy Students Make their Voices Heard

February 14, 2017

/ by

Jeff Hersh


We all know that student, the one who sits in the back and never raises his/her hand and mumbles quietly when called upon by the teacher. Sometimes being shy can inhibit a student from really engaging in classroom activities. Here are a few tips to help shy students out.


Partner/Small Group Reading


Often it’s the amount of students around that can intimidate a shy student. One way to change things up and help get every student  join in is to have students pair off with partners or small groups and take turns reading aloud together. The teacher can monitor the groups and make sure each student is participating and encourage those shyer students. The smaller audience and the divided focus across the classroom will make for a more inclusive participation environment.   


Pass Along the Readings


Another way to have all students engage in oral readingis to have each student read one sentence at a time. This gives every student a chance to participate without the pressure of reading a long passage..


Sum it Up at the End


Keep a box or hat with each student’s name in it. At the close of the lesson, pick random names to share a fact or piece of information that was learned in the lesson. It serves as a cumulative review for the entire class and encourages students to be ready to share.


Choose How to Answer


Some students speak quietly because they’re shy. When going over questions or reviewing, give students the option to write their answers on the board. They’re still sharing and involved, no matter which method they choose.


The Beachball Discussion


A small inflatable beach ball can serve as a talking totem. Give the ball to students to speak during discussions and question/answer sessions. Let the class know that every student will have an opportunity to share thoughts or answers and it won’t end until everyone has at least one turn.


Students will be shy at times. Using different methods of participation can ease some of the anxiety they might feel while still encouraging them to be active learners. Give shy students plenty of praise and encouragement when they do participate, and keep your classroom atmosphere positive and accepting.


Spanish language practice assignment


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