Teachers and tutors know that every student they come in contact with is different. Some are outspoken, some are troublemakers, some are dedicated, and others are lethargic and unmotivated. A good teacher or tutor will find a way to reach each and every student, and work tirelessly to help each student further their education. Sometimes, teachers can mistake a shy student for an incompetent student, but studies show that shyness is not related to intelligence. Being shy does impact how a student learns and how, and if, they ask or help when they need it. Shy students also suffer when teachers grade based on class participation. Here are some ways that teachers and tutors can make sure that even their most timid pupils get the help that they need:
Introductions: At the beginning of the year (or tutoring relationship) come up with one or two activities that allow students to introduce themselves and learn about others around them. For larger groups, create a simple Bingo card with descriptions in each of the boxes instead of numbers. Examples of descriptions could be “someone who has two sisters” or “someone whose name starts with the same letter as yours.” This encourages students to talk to others and find out interesting facts about their peers. Although public introductions make most people a little nervous, it gives the teacher or tutor a good idea of who are the shy students and also gives them an interesting fact about the student that they can use for future conversations.
Seating Arrangements: Many teachers like setting their students up in group, placing the students together in groups of 3 or 4 and encouraging them to work together. This fosters a safe environment for students to get to know a few other classmates, and many teachers put a shy student with an outgoing student in an attempt to pull them out of their shell. Throughout the year, teachers switch up the seating arrangements, giving all students the chance to interact with each other.
Give Everyone A Job: Giving students a responsibility gives them a feeling of importance and value in the classroom. Even tutors can give shy students a job such as “Locator,” giving the student the responsibility of finding the quietest place in the house/library to have their session. Giving students in the classroom a job allows them to connect to other students and allows them to feel like they’re contributing to classroom.
Give Recognition: When shy students make the effort to start conversations, contribute to class discussions or ask questions when they normally don’t, make sure you point it out, probably in private. Let the student know you recognize the effort they made and how proud you are of him/her. Even if it’s just adding one comment to a class discussion, celebrate the progress!
Don’t Push: Tutors, especially those who naturally are more outgoing, may have a difficult time relating to shy students. It is important that professionals let shy students come out of their shell in their own time, and pushing them to speak louder or more often before they are ready can actually make the relationship worse.
Many celebrities, professional athletes and famous scientists and mathematicians are rather shy when they are not in the spotlight. Their shyness is no indicator of how well they can preform their specific tasks, and teachers and tutors must remember the same goes for their students. A shy student needs to challenged, motivated and celebrated just as much as their outgoing classmates do.