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Classroom Management: Help Your Quiet Students Thrive

Janelle Cox

Teachers spend a great deal of time searching for new classroom management ways on how to deal with classroom disruptions. In today’s society, extroverts have pretty much taken over the classroom. So what happens to the children who are introverted? They tend to become invisible, so much so that the teachers sometimes forget that they are even there. Teachers spend so much of their day dealing with the students who are participating, or managing the students who are disruptive, that the “shy” and “introverted” students simply get ignored. Introverts have a lot to offer, and should be given every opportunity they can in the classroom. Here are a few classroom management ideas to help your introverted students thrive.

Setting the Stage for Change

So, how can you help? For starters you need to understand introverts. These students like to be alone. She may not always be shy, but the introverted student needs to be alone in order to refocus her energy. Once you have identified a student who you think is an introvert, then you figure out how to modify your classroom management and environment. The simple act of understanding their feelings and creating a classroom environment where these students feel safe can make a huge difference in their world.

How to Help Students Thrive

Here are some ideas and tips on how to help shy and introverted children thrive in the classroom.

Make them Feel Normal

Being shy is a very normal thing. In fact, up to 50 percent of Americans are said to be considered “shy.” When you normalize shyness in the classroom and not let it stand out, children will less likely feel like outcasts. You can help your students see how normal being shy is by having them research famous leaders and celebrities that are shy.

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Give them a Job to Do

Assign shy students a classroom job that allows them to interact with their classmates. Something as little as passing out papers can really help a shy child. This brief interaction can help open them up and give them the confidence needed for even more interaction with their peers.

Give Students Some Space

Introverted students need some time alone. If you are looking to help them thrive in an extroverted classroom, then they will need a few moments alone to recharge. To do this, give them a space in the classroom to go to if they need a minute, no questions asked.

Compliment their Accomplishments

Every student wants to feel special, regardless if he is shy or not. To help boost self-esteem, compliment him in front of the class. Something as small as saying, “I really like the way you printed on your essay” can make a big difference. Do not make it a spectacle, just say a nice quick compliment and move on.

Classroom Activities to Help Shy Children

The key to getting these students to open up and feel safe in your classroom is to develop activities that make them interact with their classmates. Make sure that these activities include small groups, require that everyone plays a role (Jigsaw cooperative learning is a good one) and works at a rapid pace. Shy students tend to feel reluctant to take their turn and get anxiety if they are waiting a long time. Here are a few activities that tend to get shy students to come out of their shell.

Getting-to-Know You Activities

Sometimes shy children just need the opportunity to realize that they are not that much different than their peers. When this happens, it allows them to feel more comfortable talking in class. Have students play a few getting-to-know you games, such as “What Do We Have in Common?” and “Two Truths and a Lie.” Pair students together and have them explore five things that they have in common. Then, every three minutes have students switch partners. For the next activity, have students take turns telling the class two truth statements and one lie. The classmate’s job is to figure out which statement is a lie. These games will help introverted students to recognize that they have things in common with their classmates.

Learning Social Skills

Students that are shy or introverted may lack social skills. Given the opportunity, they may thrive. Try breaking students into small groups of five and have them practice introducing themselves to one another and then introducing the students they just met to each other. Then, rotate groups so they can meet and greet each person in the class. For example, have students say “Hello, my name is … ” followed by a handshake. Next, have them say “Hi, John I would like you to meet … ” and so on.

Pay close attention to the “invisible” students in your classroom. Not every student wants to be center of attention. Take the time to work with these students and you will see that they too can thrive in your classroom.

How do you help your quiet student thrive? Please share your ideas in the comment section below. We would love to hear your thoughts.

 Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators