- High school English teacher Jori Krulder writes for Edutopia that making sure all students take part in classroom conversations in her AP Literature class during the school year, beginning with having students parse the difference between a debate and a discussion, is key to helping them develop their voice.
- While Krulder notes that not all students are natural speakers, she creates opportunities to help them feel more comfortable, from having them write down their thoughts before they talk to randomly selecting students to take part in discussions.
- Krulder, herself a shy student in high school, also shares her own experience with students, knowing that some may not be taking part as much as others but still have something worthwhile to share.
Educators are familiar with students who are reluctant to speak in class. Often seated toward the back, they’re the last to raise their hands and uncomfortable talking in front of a room. While that behavior does not necessarily correlate to poor performance, giving all students an opportunity to speak their minds and share their thoughts is still important as it folds into their social-emotional learning.
Knowing how to draw out students can be complicated for teachers — and an area where professional development can play a significant, impactful role. Just calling on a student may not result in their participation, while having students sit in a circle, for example, can help create a more empathetic and trusting space that can then help students use "their own voices to express themselves," according to the authors of a 2014 paper, "Circular seating arrangements."
The ability to speak effectively is considered a core competency, according to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning. Supporting educators to help them develop techniques and tools that create opportunities for all students to take part in discussions and share their own ideas is crucial to their educational experience and growth.