Do you Have a Shelly or Juan in Your Classroom?

Juan and Shelly are walking home from school, both looking down and kicking an empty, crushed soda can. Finally, Juan breaks the silence.

"Shelly, did you ask any questions in class today?"

"No," she says quietly. "The teachers hate me, and when they do call on me, the kids all laugh."

"You know that's not true," Juan says reassuringly. "Teachers like you, and I doubt the kids are laughing at you."

"But they're not like us!" Shelly whispers.

"What do you mean?" Juan asks.

"You and I are shy and quiet. We only know how to talk to each other. They don't understand."

"I know," he acknowledges. "I guess I don't talk in class much either. And, the more I think about it, I get laughed at a lot too."

Do you have a Juan or Shelly in your classroom?

Teachers and classmates don't always treat the quiet kids as intelligent, critical thinkers who have a lot to offer during class discussions.

Introverts may rarely participate in class, but that doesn't mean they don't have ideas and answers to share. They often spend hours at home studying for tests and quizzes by themselves. 

You may have numerous introverts in your class. They are quiet, rarely engage with teachers, and almost never cause problems. Helping introverted students participate in class and feel comfortable can be a challenge for educators. Here are a few ideas to help.

Tips for teachers to help the quiet kids in their space engage:

  • Give introverted students time to process information before asking them to contribute.
  • Let introverted students work on their own projects rather than requiring them to work in groups.
  • Give introverted students the opportunity to talk to you about their needs and how they can best contribute in class. Never invalidate introverted students for participating at a level that is comfortable for them.
  • Work with introverted kids one-on-one to come up with ways they can contribute more successfully in class while staying true to themselves.
  • Get introverted students involved in outside activities that give them the opportunity to be social and express themselves more publicly.
  • Give introverted students time alone so they can recharge their introverted batteries without feeling guilty for not participating in class.

Got some hacks of your own for this complex issue? Please share them in the comments or tweet them to us @10publications.

Post photo by Сергей Гладкий from Pexels

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