Raising a hand in class can be a thoughtless reaction for some students, but a nerve-racking struggle for others. Everybody learns in varying ways, and sit at different levels on the introversion/extroversion scale, but in a modern classroom environment, speaking up is often essential. We already know that some students are quiet learners (which do not necessarily mean they are shy individuals) but the time will inevitably come to answer a question or do a presentation in front of the class. So how can we get kids to feel confident enough to speak up?
I remember when I was in primary school I had no fears in raising my hand to answer a question. Whether I was confident enough to talk in front of everyone, or I was just seeking validation from my teacher, I’m still not sure. However, by the time I got to high school, my eagerness to answer questions dwindled. It wasn’t so much a confidence thing or me trying to look ‘cool’, but more that I always doubted my answers and second-guessed myself. It was only when I had a pre-prepared script to read from for an oral presentation did I feel confident in my knowledge.
This might relate to your children in some way if they have any trouble speaking up. Ask them if it’s a confidence issue, or a concern about their ‘image’. There’s obviously nothing to be afraid of in the classroom and there’s nothing wrong with answering a question incorrectly, as long as they try. In fact, failing in front of your classmates can be a positive experience too – once they realise that nothing awful happens, it’ll drive them to answer more questions in the future!
Much like extroverted kids are forced to work quietly and independently, introverted types should be encouraged to step out of their comfort zones and speak up. Being able to talk openly in front of their class will enhance their public speaking, communication skills and confidence, and will help immensely when they move on to further education where oral presentations are a more frequent occurrence.
Lauren is a teacher and tutor who works with primary school aged children. Lauren has a Degree in Education from Deakin University, and is currently studying a Diploma in Counseling with AIPC.