An Approach for Helping Quiet Students Find Their Voices

“I’m afraid I’ll be the only one to think my thoughts, that no one else will see it the way I do. I don’t want to be wrong.” That was the response by a student to a comment I made asking him to consider participating more in class discussions. The conversation took place one day after class toward the end of the 2017 spring semester when he asked me to sign an academic progress report. He was a good student and submitted quality papers on a timely basis. Yet, while he paid attention to my lectures and everyone’s remarks in class, he rarely spoke.

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Three Ways to Engage Students In and Outside the Classroom

When students become directly engaged in the learning process, they take ownership of their education. The following learning activities have helped me to engage students in and outside the classroom. The strategies also help keep my teaching relevant, fresh, and creative. Get real Silence filled the classroom when the grimacing woman wearing layers of torn sweatshirts and mismatched work boots kicked an empty desk by the door. She fished out a wrinkled paper from her jean's front pocket and waved it high in the air. "The court sent me," she said, looking directly into the eyes of a startled young freshman. "And I want to know, who's gonna make me stay?" Rolling the document into a ball, she quickly darted to the back of the room and dropped it onto the desk of the biggest guy in the room. She asked him, "Is it you?"

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Plunging into Learning

I looked down into the menacing waters as a rogue wave jolted the raft. Trembling, I stepped back, my chattering teeth and throbbing heart in perfect sync. “Let’s go!” It was Miss T, her tone, fierce and impatient. Again, I crept forward, looking out toward the distant boat wondering how in the world I would ever make the 30-yard swim. Suddenly: hands on my shoulders—a push. I was airborne.

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