The Quiet Ones

We have all had our share of boisterous students and usually remember the most challenging students.

But, do we remember the quiet ones.

We often have to think hard to recall them.

It is very easy for them to get lost in the hubbub of the classroom and school environment.

There can be many reasons for their silence.

What we need to understand is that shyness is a combination of emotions.

It can stem from fear, tension, apprehension and embarrassment.

These students need a teacher’s help to find their voice in the classroom.

Talking quietly one on one with the student to get to know them better is a great place to start.

It can be amazing what you find out about these quiet ones.

These are some strategies you can use to help these students.

Group Area

These quiet ones tend to sit at the back of the group and usually don’t have a ‘go to’ person to sit beside.

Talk to them privately and ask them to sit closer to the front.

Seating Arrangement

Meet with this student and ask them to name 3 people they think they would like to get to know better and have their desk placed beside.

Discretely make some seating changes to enable this student to sit beside one of their choices.

Partner or Group Work

When you are pairing students up to work together, try to pair them up with someone they have indicated on their list.

When students are asked to select a partner, allow this student to have one of the first picks when selecting their partner.

Goal Setting

Meet with this student to discuss a starting goal for the number of times they raise their hand and speak up in front of the class.

Prepare a simple chart for each day.

They can keep this at their desk and have them check off daily how many times they raised their hand and participated orally in the class.

Ensure the student understands that these are only goals and they can be readjusted if necessary depending on the success of the goal setting.

Point out to the student that their progress may only be seen in very small steps but celebrate any progress which will help them take positive risks and overcome obstacles.

Recess/Break Time

Recess or break time can be a lonely time for these students.

There may also be another student you know who does not have a friend to play with, or socialize with and they could be paired up together.


Meet with the student briefly before a lesson or discussion and give them some time to prepare an answer, opinion or question to contribute during the lesson.

Practice/Role Play

If the student is willing, have the student rehearse with a peer what they would like to say to the class during a lesson.

You can also teach them socialization skills by conducting a lesson in the classroom on how to join a group and how to accept a new member in a group.

Class Climate

You will want to promote inclusion and the acceptance of others in your classroom to create a safe environment for all.

The differences we see in each other should be celebrated and valued.

Shy students will slowly begin to feel they can contribute in their own way without judgement or embarrassment.

Classroom Jobs

Give shy students a job to do in the classroom such as handing out supplies or collecting materials.

A job will help them further develop their social skills through the interaction with their peers and boost their confidence.

Wait Time

Shy students often need a longer wait time for a response when they are called upon to participate orally.

The waiting can seem like an eternity but they most often will respond if given the time to do so.

Final Thoughts

All of the strategies mentioned are ways to help shy students become more confident and social; however, it all depends on the dynamics of your classroom and most importantly, your students.

It also starts with you, the teacher, to help these quiet ones find their voices in the classroom.

If you have not done so, please feel free to sign up for email notifications or click the follow button for the weekly posts.  I’d also love to hear from you about the post or strategies you have tried in your classroom.


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