I realized that I needed to come up with new techniques to encourage sharing in the classroom that stemmed from collaboration and joint efforts and offer ways for less verbal students to articulate their knowledge. Cain’s article offered one such technique, called “Think, Pair, Share.” This technique has become one of the most important tools in my teaching toolkit as it promotes collaboration and peer-to-peer learning among all students. Susan describes it beautifully, so here’s her explanation:
The teacher poses a question to the class and asks students to first reflect on or write down their answer, and then share it with a peer. Sometimes a shy student can find confidence through the encouragement of a single peer before sharing his idea with the larger classroom.
I personally like a lively, interactive classroom. But I also realize that trying to force everyone to participate on the same level and in the same way is not good. I’d rather have a well thought out point made by a shy student now and then than have to wade through lots of shallow ideas put out by those just needing to talk, for whatever reason (sometimes because they think that’s the way to get good grades and/or be noticed).
Finding other ways to encourage interaction by the shy is wise and certainly supportive of their learning needs.