4 Tips for Teachers with Shy Students

There’s a shy student in almost every classroom. Perhaps it’s a student who will only whisper, or maybe it’s the one sitting in the back who refuses to raise their hand in class to answer a question. Either way, having a shy student can be a big challenge for any teacher, especially with large class sizes and the diverse needs of all students.

Unfortunately, shy students sometimes don’t engage with their peers and teachers, and risk missing out on opportunities to learn.

Here are some tips on how to enable your shy students in the classroom: 

  1. Create a custom communication plan: Meet with the student and parents to create a communication plan that the child feels comfortable with. This may include typing, hand signals, or writing in a journal. This will allow the child to participate in class and learn without the anxiety of being put on the spot.
  2. Make use of classroom technology: Technology can play a role in enabling students who don’t always use their voice. The shy student could use a tablet or laptop to post ideas to a SMART Board without having to raise his or her hand, or speak out loud. They could add ideas and images to a collaborative SMART amp workspace instead of making a solo presentation in front of the class.
  3. Pair up the student with a friend: While a younger student may not be comfortable speaking aloud is class, they may be willing to whisper to a friend. Give your shy student the option of working alongside a trusted friend, to whom they can whisper answers and ideas. That friend can then share their ideas with the class.
  4. Help your shy student discover their passion: Teachers work hard to form a relationship with every student, and shy students can benefit a lot from your care and attention. Spend some time learning about what they love to do and what they’re good at. Students blossom when they find their passion. They will open up once you have earned their trust.

Consider taking some time over lunch or after school to bond with your shy student by playing a game or activity that relates to their interests. They’ll find their voice with you, and soon with the whole class.

Click here to read about Ja’Shyni, a student who overcame shyness to participate in class.

*Thank you to Lauren Aubry, Ja’Shyni’s teacher, who contributed her ideas to this post.  

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Sarah Richards
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About Sarah Richards

Sarah Richards is a Brand Strategist at SMART, on a mission to bring students together and empower educators through technology. Sarah works from Vancouver, Canada.

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