The Silent Learner


We all have them. We all know them. They are the students who sit in the back of the room, or in a small group and watch what’s going on. I call them the Silent Learner. They are like a sponge that soaks up all that is going on around them, but they don’t know how to share that information with others. So how do you get these students involved? I have been thinking about this since I have such learner in my classroom.

Who are they?

The Silent Learner is a special kind of student. In my case my student is a gifted learner. He likes to watch people learn. He spends class time doing the tasks that are needed, but doesn’t show a lot of emotion doing the tasks. He can work with a partner who understands that he doesn’t talk a lot or very loud. He can also work by himself, where he isn’t required to talk much. You may notice that your student has a wide range of hobbies and interests that come out in their personality as you get more familiar with your student.

You may have a similar student in your room. He may be a person who doesn’t fit the mold of the typical student. They may have intrapersonal and interpersonal difficulties in and out of the classroom. This isn’t to say there is anything wrong with that student. It may just be their personality.

How to bring them out of Silence ?

Develop a relationship with them. One thing that needs to happen, which I am trying to do is to build a working relationship with the student. I think that they need to feel comfortable with you before they can open up with you. Talk with you student. I know that part of the problem is they don’t talk, but try to find something you have in common with the student to break the ice. For me, I don’t see my students but only once a week. It takes a while longer for me than for a teacher that has the student everyday.

Pair your quiet student up with a student who is like them. Sometimes it is good to have a partner that isn’t too overwhelming. Sometimes students will open up when they have a partner  that will be safe. I have found that quiet students don’t like to be embarrassed or have attention drawn to them. So if they have a partner that isn’t as shy as them but doesn’t like attention then they will feel like they are part of the group and listened to.

Draw them out slowly. I like to allow students to choose different ways they like to present the information they have learned. By doing this you are giving the students choice, but you are also allowing them to feel comfortable in your classroom, and with the procedures for presentation. That way when they get in front of the class, they won’t see so quiet.

Enjoy the company.  One thing that I have found that works with students is to let them feel like you enjoy their company. If they feel comfortable talking to you and around you. With that, they begin to feel comfortable around you that they will come out of their silence.

These are just a few things that I am trying to implement in my classroom to help my student not be a Silent Learner. If you have any suggestions I would be appreciative.

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