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Every class has a few quiet students, the ones who are a little shy or perhaps feel as though they cannot be heard over the more vocal students.

There is often frustration among teachers who cannot get the quiet students to participate in class, and as a result it is not uncommon for their names to be called out randomly in class – which can be very damaging to their confidence, especially if they do not know the answer.

So when it comes to teaching a class that has a couple of quiet students, here are a few tips for getting them to participate in class.

Discussion Groups

When you make groups in your class for discussion and debate, put the quiet students together so that they are not drowned out by the more vocal students. If you put reluctant conversationalists together with a topic to discuss for the class, they are more likely to step out of their comfort zones and chat with each other.

At the end, one member of the group shares what they discussed, and this person is picked by the other members. This way, no one feels forced or pressured by the teacher.

Get Them Moving

Some physical activities in the class can really help the quieter students to open up. You could create a gallery walk, where you have several pieces of the class assignment scattered in different locations in the classroom.

In groups, they must move from each one and put it together – solving the problem. It encourages them to work together, and can be used with pretty much every subject. Either that, or they can move around individually, sparking conversation at natural points. This can be easier for students who have more difficulty with conversations and are exceptionally shy.

Round Robins

After watching a video, the more vocal students are often keen to share their opinions on it. However, this can leave the quieter ones out and unwilling to participate.

Let the students know that there will be a round robin after the video, where each student will have the chance to say what they liked about the video as well as having the opportunity to ask questions and talk about sections they may have found difficult.

One on One

Take some time after class to talk to the quiet students and discuss why they find it difficult to voice opinions in front of their peers. You will often find that they are much more open when it is just them and you, but make sure you don’t pressure them into talking.

Many quiet students don’t want to discuss things or are too shy to do so. However, you can take the time to see if there is anything you can change about the class to make things easier for them and allow them to express themselves in a manner that does not leave them feeling shy or self conscious. Communication is the key to participation.