How To Encourage Shy Students To Participate?



As a teacher, you play the delicate role of shaping the initial worldview of the young minds under your supervision. So naturally, it takes a lot of precaution and premeditation to set the tone of your classroom. Oftentimes, you do come across students who are incredibly shy and hesitate to be a part of this community learning procedure.


This, admittedly, can present its fair share of challenges to you as an educator. You obviously want to be their guide, but it can't be possible without them letting their guards down. So, you must know how to encourage shy students to participate in classroom activities.


A primary measure that you must take is establishing a bond of trust with your shy students. As they are uncomfortable with being vocal, they may feel alienated from their teachers and peers. So, start with non-verbal cues and communication methods to show them your support. Please make use of positive reinforcements when they get a task done right or show signs of coming out of their shells. Most importantly, ensure that your classroom is a safe space for these little ones and that they are not being labelled for being different.


Why Some Students Are Shy To Participate In Classroom Activities?

There are various reasons why some kids can shy away from a public setting. Being the centre of attention can be too much societal pressure for many. In simpler terms, they can feel like being put on a show. As a result, children can feel anxious regarding the task at hand. They can be afraid that failure will likely result in public humiliation.


As a teacher, you have the general idea that almost all kids have been susceptible to this kind of inhibition in a school setting. A large-scale change of atmosphere from their home spaces to an institution with strict rules and regulations impacts them significantly. Being in such unfamiliar situations can be daunting for young minds. So naturally, they withdraw themselves from others.


As most kids can soon adapt to uncharted territories, shyness can be present in others for a long time. When dealing with such students, remember that their disinterest in participating in a group activity is not a sign of disobedience. So be a friend in their moment of need, as harsh criticism will further make them turn away from opening up.


With the growing interest in mental health all over the globe, the psychosis of young children is getting much-needed attention. Remember that, unlike neurotypical students, a neurodivergent kid can have a separate set of obstacles in being social. Moreover, learning difficulties like dyslexia and dysgraphia can cause children to feel isolated, as they fear rejection caused by discrimination. As a teacher, your duty remains to make everybody in your class feel equally loved and cared for.


How To Encourage Shy Students To Participate By Creating A Safe Space?

In general terms, a safe space refers to an environment where an individual can be comfortable about not being subjected to any kind of harassment. To help students struggling with extreme self-consciousness, you need to make sure that your class is one such place for them.


The concept of constructive criticism has always been a slippery slope. On the one hand, it helps young minds learn from their mistakes and build on them. Alternatively, it can also cause long-time emotional scarring, causing further isolation from everyone else.


So, make sure when you are correcting young children, they can feel it is a measure taken for their overall growth. They should not be shamed for their drawbacks. Otherwise, they will always feel shy to be at the front and centre. As a safe space, a classroom allows your students to be themselves. They rest assured of not being bullied or harassed there. This, in turn, will allow them to share their feelings and opinions openly.


Shy kids also often get ragged on by their classmates. As a teacher, you must be vocal that the school strictly has a zero-tolerance policy toward such unwelcoming behaviour. Governing bodies of every educational institution should thoroughly implement anti-ragging rules and regulations to eradicate such malpractices. It would be best if you also taught young children about why adverse behaviour towards their peers is an improper thing to do.


What Role Can Positive Reinforcements Play To Encourage Shy Students?

The notion of positive reinforcement is a tried and tested method that works wonderfully to motivate young minds. Used correctly and with the necessary caution, this behaviour modification technique can be really helpful for your shy students.


You can start with small steps to ease the kids into more elaborative community activities slowly. Maybe pair up such a child with a voluble partner to discuss the topic they read in the class yesterday. When the child gets more comfortable eventually, you can integrate this student into a group of five to read aloud from a certain chapter.


While doing this, ensure you are vocally encouraging the kid's ability to complete the assigned task. This visible appreciation and integration into further activities, as a reward, directly reinforces the confidence in such students. An otherwise shy child will look forward to receiving more of such compliments. Working in a group allows children to be heard by their fellow students too, which further makes them feel validated and recognised.


As one of the crucial adult figures in their lives apart from their parents, you also need to mediate social reinforcements too. For example, when a student performs well in class work, you can write "good" or similar appreciative remarks on the copy. Smiling, clapping or patting on the back can also make shy students feel welcome. Through these small steps, they can start to feel like an equally important part of the group.


While trying out these approaches, remember to allow your shy students to move at their own pace. So, ask them beforehand if they mind sharing their work with the rest of the class. If there are class presentations, ensure that they have proper time to rehearse. Try to sit down one-on-one with such students to guide them.


What To Avoid When Dealing With Shy Students?

While you are in a classroom, remember that these educational dialectics should centre around the students themselves. As an individual, you are bound to have certain personal expectations from your class. But it is of utmost importance to not give into abrupt impulses if those are not met by your students, especially the shy ones.


So, try to take a cue from these young minds themselves. If they are unable to respond to your questions like their batchmates, harsher criticism can never be the way forward. Instead, try to see the blockages they are facing and how they adapt to such situations. Accordingly, you can provide them with a helping hand.


Note that when you are trying to socialise a shy kid, forcing it on the children will only have counterproductive outcomes. It would help if you tried putting yourself in your students' shoes to understand their point-of-views properly. This will enable you to align your teaching approach with their developing and evolving social skills.


Importantly, try to avoid triggering any kind of negative emotion in your students, which will make them withdraw further from the rest. Certain things or actions can cause a student to retreat back from a social group. So, try to know which buttons should not be pushed when supervising a classroom.


The best way to understand your students completely like this can be achieved through constant correspondence with their parents. So, ensure that your institution organises routine parent-teacher meetings where both parties can share their notes regarding the little ones.


Why Should You Encourage Shy Students To Participate?

Being shy might not affect a student's educational performance directly. But if students are spending their hours at the school preoccupied with anxiety, such feelings can adversely affect their learning. Moreover, such emotional baggage can be heavy for the little ones. As a teacher, you need to ensure their overall development is not being hindered anyhow.


Extreme shyness can lead to children feeling unimportant and reduce their self-esteem. As a result, they might not want to come to school every other day. Or, if they spend most of the time alone in the institution itself, they will have fewer friends. So, they do not get to acquire or practice proper social skills. Consequently, such a lack of interaction can prevent them from reaching their full potential in the educational sector.


So, encouraging them to be a part of classroom activities helps them get rid of their acute self-awareness. Contrary to what many believe, young children can form strong opinions about themselves and others. So, when they feel embarrassed by their bashful attitude in public, they can feel extremely judgemental about themselves. As a result, they continue to feel insecure in a group setting.


You being a source of support and empathy can make these children feel understood. So, when you try to help them out, they will be responsive to you. You can try to talk to your students about why they feel shy in front of others. This will help you discover where their problems stem from, and you can deliver adequate solutions.


What Other Measures Can You Take To Encourage Shy Students To Participate In A Class?

There are no hard-and-fast rules regarding how you should control your class. So, you have the opportunity to improvise and adapt according to the needs of your students. To make the shy little ones feel more at home, you can organise play-based learning. This method has proven to have emotional, social and cognitive benefits. Your students will also feel closer and more connected to you, helping them speak up more often.


Moreover, as children love storytelling sessions, you can organise such events too for a dynamic classroom experience. There, you can opt for sharing incidents where you have been shy in your life. You can utilise this moment to teach these kids that shyness is nothing to be embarrassed about and how you overcame it.


Psychologically, children look up to their parents as ideal figureheads representing perfection. So, you admitting your own shyness can show these young minds how even adults have their own set of idiosyncrasies. They further learn how to deal with these issues on their own.


You can also consider conversing with your school's student counsellors. Professionals in the field know how to encourage shy students to participate in class via proper means. So, such specialists can help the young ones with stress management, relaxation strategies or social skill training in their counselling sessions.


37 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All