5 Ways to Encourage Shy Students to Participate in the Classroom

We all have had that quiet kid in the class who keeps silent during group discussions, the one who has done his homework but never gives answers out loud. Whether they are afraid of getting things wrong or speaking up before their peers, shy students withdraw into themselves and it seems impossible to get them involved no matter how hard you try.

While overactive students are considered the most challenging ones, quiet kids are often more difficult. They don’t mess around in class, but it is harder to encourage them to participate and express themselves.

Here are five tips for getting your quiet students to come out of their shells and share their voices with the class.

1. Create small discussion groups

Shy students may be more comfortable speaking up in smaller groups than before the whole classroom. Creating groups with less outgoing students and suggesting activities that require interaction will help quiet students get out of their comfort zone and communicate with one another.

There are different group activities you can suggest to help the students overcome their shyness. Run an “about myself” activity during which they speak about their likes and dislikes, or play a game of emotion charades where they have to act out various feelings.

2. Change the traditional way of asking questions

Asking questions is the most common method of assessing learning and encouraging student engagement, but it’s not always effective. Active students usually monopolize classroom discussions, while the more introverted ones feel uncomfortable raising their hands and answering questions.

A great way to get shy students involved in Q&As is to use real-time polling tools, such as Swift Polling, to challenge your students on what they’ve learned during the lesson. You can create questions with multiple answers and give students some time to text to vote for the right answer. The ability to submit answers anonymously will reduce the fear of making mistakes and students will likely be more active, while you’ll get the chance to gauge their understanding of the subject material.

You can also use real-time polling tools to receive anonymous feedback about the lesson and learn what activities your students like most.

3. Allow students to move around

Different students have different learning styles. Some are auditory or visual learners, while others perceive information better through a physical experience – touching, feeling or doing.

You may discover that students who are usually quiet during lectures or demonstrations are better engaged in physical activities. For example, you can organize gallery walks.

In this activity, students add to their knowledge through active discussions and cooperative learning. The class is divided into several groups. The teacher hangs or stages several open-ended questions around the classroom or outdoors, as in an art gallery, and each group is given time to discuss the questions and add their thoughts with markers or sticky notes. Having contributed to the solution of all questions, the groups return to the first question they faced and see comments left by other groups. Meanwhile, the teacher keeps interacting with students and observing the level of their activity.

For quiet students, the movement and less formal atmosphere can make expressing what’s on their mind easier.

4. Recognize and reward active contribution

Make sure to encourage shy students at every little step they take. Comment on their work and praise their attempts to interact in the classroom. Make sure to give them an important job in the classroom so that they feel they are contributing. When possible, display their work where other students can see it and make them feel proud of their accomplishments. These will help them develop confidence and make further steps toward overcoming their fears.

5. Build a trustful relationship with shy students

Introverted students tend to hide in the end rows to avoid being in the spotlight. Make sure to place them in the front of the classroom to be closer to them and interact with them more easily. Seat them next to the students who are most likely to befriend them and try to organize social interactions.

While you have to keep continuous contact with all the students, allocate some extra time to communicate with shy students one-on-one and build rapport with them. Even a few conversations with introverted students can help to create a stronger connection and give them that little nudge to reach out.


The above article was submitted by Swift Polling and contains affiliate links.

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