How to Support the Shy Students in Your Classroom 

There is an ongoing, ageless debate surrounding the differences between extroverts and introverts. You’ve probably read endless articles discussing these key differences and offering insight into how an introvert thinks and acts, versus how an extrovert does. 

While it’s true that introverts and extroverts have different learning styles, it’s essential to know whether a student in your classroom is introverted or simply too shy to express themselves. In any case, it’s important to try to figure out how you can support them and ensure that they feel safe and comfortable and able to express their full potential. Here’s where to start. 

Create a safe environment 

The first step in helping the students in your classroom dealing with shyness or introversion is to create an environment where they can feel safe. There’s nothing like a hostile environment to make a shy child feel overwhelmed and triggered, so it’s crucial that you do your best to make the classroom a safe space. Let your shy or introverted students pick where they want to sit in the classroom, and don’t force or push them to speak in front of the classroom or interact with other students. Allow them to do things at their own pace, as this will make them feel like they’re in control of the situation and more likely to come out of their shell. But don’t try to rush things, let them unfold naturally. It might take some time for a shy student to start relaxing and emerging from their shell, so make sure you give them as much time as they need. 

Build trust 

Another important step in this process is to build a trusting relationship with the shy students in your classroom. They might not feel confident to speak freely or tell you the things that they’re thinking right away. Instead, give them time and space and let them feel like they can trust you, and that you won’t force anything on them. Let them know you understand and accept them the way they are, and in time, they will start to lower their defenses and start sharing their feelings with you. 

Take things slow 

Like we’ve said before, time is of the essence when trying to help a shy student come out of their shell. Force them to expose themselves too soon, and you might overwhelm them and lose their trust. Instead, work slowly, don’t lose patience if it takes longer than you thought, and stick with it. Start slowly, by asking them a question every now and then during a lesson, but don’t force them to answer, leave it open. Say something like ‘Would you like to answer or add anything to this?’ If they don’t, move on without any judgment or persistence, and try again some other time. Try to initiate conversation about their hobbies or yours, and try to spark their curiosity. Slowly, but surely, you’ll gain their trust. 

Use positive reinforcement 

A shy, introverted, or insecure student will benefit greatly from getting positive feedback and reinforcement. It’s one of your best tools to help them express themselves and motivate them to do their best, so use it to your advantage. Whenever they make progress in some way or another, like they answer something or raise their hand during a lesson, or they do well on a project, offer encouragement and let them know they did a good job and that you’re proud of them. Do this as often as you can. Even if they don’t do as good as they can on a project or task, don’t give them negative feedback, as this might discourage them from trying again. Instead, encourage them to do even better next time! 

Celebrate small wins

This one is related to what we just discussed regarding positive feedback and reinforcement. Whenever one of your shy students makes a step forward, take the time to celebrate this milestone and recognize their efforts. Allow them to enjoy this moment and don’t rush them into the next step. If they do something bold like present something in front of the class, or work on a group project, or anything else like that, celebrate it. Offer praise, both in private and in front of their peers, and give them the opportunity to feel good about themselves. 

If you’re dealing with very shy or introverted students in your classroom and you’d like to try some strategies to help them thrive in school, be sure to reach out to us to learn more tips and techniques. The Da Vinci team is at your service!

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