Teachers have to deal with students with different personalities on a daily basis. And while it’s possible they might have favorites in these classes, you might be wondering whether they have a particular dislike for quiet students.
As a teacher, you’ll meet students with all sorts of personalities in your classrooms. From very loud and active students who want to make their opinions heard on every question to quiet students who refuse to communicate much during ongoing classes.
Classrooms are full of unique personalities which can be difficult to deal with sometimes. Unfortunately, some teachers sometimes have little knowledge of how to bring quiet students out of their shells.
I was personally a quiet student in school in my early years and nothing was scarier in school than a teacher pointing to me or even calling out my name to answer a question. Whenever a teacher asked a question and was waiting for an answer, the last thing I wanted to hear was “Yes, Chris”.
The only thing I could hear from that point was my increasing heartbeat. It felt like it was about to jump out of my chest at any moment. Not that I never knew the answers to the questions, I just didn’t seem to be comfortable when all eyes were on me.
And while it took some effort to eventually overcome this challenge, various other students have similar challenges. This article will look at this from the perspective of the teacher, their impression of shy students, and what can be done to bring them out of their shells.
What Do Teachers Think Of Shy Students
Most teachers see shyness in students as a negative characteristic and leverage various approaches in an attempt to eradicate any shyness while educating them. Most popular approaches include pairing shy students with louder students in hopes of the loud student rubbing off on the loud student.
While this may be effective to some level, it doesn’t come with its drawbacks as the shy student may end up intimidated by the louder student while the louder student may feel uncomfortable as they’re not getting enough interaction. Let’s look at the impression teachers have of these shy students.
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Teachers are sometimes of the impression that students who refuse to speak in class are academically behind while the good students are the most vocal. Louder students are able to easily ask and answer questions in class while shy students may refrain from any such actions.
Unfortunately, this leads to a negative perception of the shy student’s comprehension of the subject matter. Teachers in an attempt to ascertain student comprehension resort to pointing out students to answer questions.
While this may get the shy student to speak, it could also backfire as the nervousness could lead to the student forgetting an answer they might have known.
Lack Social Skills And Confidence
Teachers sometimes think shy students lack the skills and confidence to communicate with others. This also includes communicating their feelings on a subject matter. A student could simply be shy when they’re put on the spot in the midst of a group but may find it easy to communicate with others one-on-one.
This does not mean they lack social skills or confidence but a way to improve their current social skills becomes necessary to enable them better express themselves in groups.
Uninterested In Activities
Some teachers sometimes consider shy students to be uninterested in school and class activities. These students sometimes try not to stand out which looks like disinterest to some of these teachers.
Unlike louder students, they do not raise their hands to answer or ask questions, nor do they like to engage in group activities outside the classroom. Doing the bare minimum to avoid group interaction may seem enough to shy students.
Trouble Making Friends
Teachers see shy students as loners who have trouble making friends both inside and outside school. This is because these students may not be interested in social activities where they could interact with others in an effort to form any kind of bond.
Problems And Unhappy
While it may be easy for teachers to notice extroverted students when they’re going through problems or they’re happy, this isn’t the case for quiet students. A change in behavior of a loud student would be enough for a teacher to determine when they’re unhappy.
However, it can be challenging to determine when an introverted student has any problems as they’re always quiet. As a result, some teachers consider quiet students as unhappy or going through problems. These teachers sometimes resort to various approaches in an attempt to get the student to open up to them.
Lacking Ambition (Followers)
Unlike loud students who’re willing to put themselves on the spot even in group gatherings, quiet students refrain from these gatherings and drawing attention to themselves.
Teachers sometimes see this as a lack of ambition on the part of the student. Loud students easily run for leadership positions in school and in other groups, while quiet students would try to avoid that level of attention.
Unfortunately, this assumption could not be further from the truth as the leaders of our modern industries are well-documented as introverts. The list of introverted leaders in history is expansive.
Past leaders and achievers like Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, and Mahatma Gandhi were all introverts. Easily recognizable names in our modern world like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, Marissa Mayer, and Elon Musk are all introverts.
Introverts are great listeners and thinkers which makes them great leaders as they have a better understanding of the problems people face.
Teachers think shy students need fixing to help them better express themselves. This is especially true at the lower education level as teachers believe addressing shyness at a young age is key.
These teachers express concerns and take initiatives to address shyness in their students. This includes including this in report cards or talking to parents about this characteristic when they drop their kids in school or simply pick them up.
Uncomfortable With Environment
Another impression of teachers is that, shy students are uncomfortable with their environment in some form. Maybe they feel safer at home or with someone in particular. This can make it difficult for them to adjust to a school environment, especially at an early age.
Do Teachers Dislike Quiet Students
Now that we know what teachers think about shy students, let’s answer whether they dislike shy students.
No, teachers do not dislike quiet students. However, most teachers express concerns and take initiatives in an attempt to engage shy students in school and classroom activities.
Dealing With Shy Students
Dealing with quiet students can be quite tricky. This is especially true when the teacher has little knowledge of whether the student is naturally quiet or experiencing some challenges at school or home. That said, these recommendations and interventions could help teachers better deal with shy students.
Have Predictable And Consistent Routines
Ensuring that the student knows what to expect will eliminate any anxiety. Pointing out to students to answer questions without prior knowledge will make them feel less in control and more anxious.
Ensure that you respect students as any form of disrespect from the teacher serves as a green light for other students to also disrespect them.
Reinforce Social Interaction
Shy students might make a contribution to a lesson especially when they have an interest or experience with the topic. As a teacher, you should refrain from negative comments on the student’s attempt. Instead, compliment their contribution and add to it if necessary.
Consider the child’s own thoughts, feelings, and perceptions while assessing and treating shyness. Even though they may have difficulty verbalizing their sentiments, the student is the best authority on their own feelings.
In the event that your institution has a counselor, you can recommend breathing exercises for students with anxiety issues.
Social Skills Training
Sometimes students have no idea how to join in on a conversation or even start a conversation with another student. Providing social skills training will help improve conversational abilities
Help students set daily, or weekly goals and offer praise when students reach these goals. A typical example of such a goal is, that the student must raise their hands and contribute to a discussion at least once a day.
Provide Model Behavior
Using live demonstrations or recordings, provide examples of successful communication behavior. Indicate to pupils when they have engaged in appropriate communication habits and why they are beneficial. Without singling out a shy student, this can be done for all pupils.
Sense Of Humor
Encourage the students to have a sense of humor. As long as they are not making fun of others, jokes can be a pleasant method for them to interact and communicate.
Interact With Younger Students
Social skills are less developed in shy students than in their peers. Their self-esteem and confidence will be strengthened by giving them opportunities to connect with younger students. This is a non-threatening technique to help them enhance their social skills.
In group activities, it’s advisable that you partner students as opposed to letting them pick their own partners. This will ensure that shy students aren’t left out or picked last by their peers which can negatively impact their confidence.
Smaller Social Groups
Shy students may find it difficult to express themselves in larger groups during class activities. It’s advisable to use smaller social groups to facilitate interaction with their peers.
Notify students ahead of time of any activity that would require each student to speak up to enable them to privately rehearse for the class or activity. In the event you want to point out a shy student to answer a question, only do so when you’re confident that they have some level of understanding of the subject matter.
Encourage student participation in social clubs and other activities like sports, scouts, debate, and more.
Consult with parents about ways to promote social interaction with others at home (e.g., spending the night with a classmate, etc.). Consult parents about their child’s interests or extracurricular activities, as these may be great topics for conversation or drawing out in class.
Build a trusting relationship with the student by talking with them privately as often as you can. This will make them comfortable and more likely to participate in class activities. However, care should be taken when alone with a student.
Draw A Line
While teachers should be sympathetic to the needs of shy students, they should avoid reinforcing shy behavior with special attention or privileges.
Refrain From Using “Shy”
When addressing behaviors with parents or other professionals while the student is present, avoid using the term “shy.”