How to speak up in the classroom

shae asks: How can I be noticed in class, and how can I stop being quiet in class?

Hi shae –


This is really interesting.  See, grownups have been trying to get kids to SHUT UP in class for thousands of years!  I’ve never heard the other side of the issue before!


But I’m guessing that you’re not asking about how to talk with other kids, act silly, giggle, and make the teacher furious.  I’m thinking you want to be more a part of class, less shy, and more assertive.


The important question we need to look at, in order to help this along, is Why you’ve had trouble with this.  After all, I imagine every teacher you’ve ever had has encouraged their students to be involved in class.  So what’s gotten in your way before?  Have kids made fun of you for giving a wrong answer?  Have you had teachers who in some way embarrassed you or others for trying?  Or is this something that’s always been a problem for you, and you’re just fed up and insisting on changing it now?


Whatever the reason, the truth is that the best students, and the best learners, are people who get involved in class.  They have more fun, they stay more actively engaged, and (most important of all) they are the only students who are able to get help from the teacher when they don’t understand something!  This is true in elementary school, but it becomes drastically truer in high school and college.


So here are my suggestions to help you out:


1)    Talk to your teachers, one-on-one.  Tell them about your fears, your shyness, whatever your concerns are.  Get them to understand what you’re going through, so they can help and encourage your performance in class.


2)    At first at least, don’t offer answers in class that you’re not sure of.  Experience the great feeling of giving the right answer at least ten times, before you dare to try offering answers you only think you might have right.  Most likely, then, you’ll be okay when you get a wrong answer (most of the other kids probably didn’t know the right one either!), but even if you feel a little bad about it, you’ll have all those good experiences to beat that bad feeling down with.


3)    Feel free to say when you don’t know the right answer.  “I’m not sure, but I think it might be twenty-seven?”


4)    It’s an old cliché, but it’s absolutely true:  If you need to ask a question about something the teacher’s talking about, it’s guaranteed that there are other kids in the room who are wondering the same thing.  So there’s no reason to be embarrassed about it – you’re just helping them out!


5)    And last but not least, always remember that you’re just training yourself to be a vibrant, exciting student in the classes that will come later in your life, where class discussion is the most important part of the whole education.  And those other kids, who are too shy, or too cool, to speak up in class, will have a way way WAY tougher time than you will then!


Good Luck my friend!



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