Here’s what speakers from the Spanish Teacher Success Academy online conference do…
“The biggest thing is finding out what they are into. Greeting them at the door, talking to them about what they like.”
Allison always tries to make a connection with her students about a shared interest so that when the topic comes up in class, she can build on that connection and ask students to share their expertise. This way, her students feel more included and welcome to participate. Being sensitive to their preferences also helps Allison; not requiring everyone to participate or present in front of the class, for example, is helpful. She relies on volunteers for reading instead of the ‘popcorn’ style and she plays to everyone’s strengths to ensure all students feel comfortable in the classroom.
“I rework topics into what we are talking about that interest them and are so compelling to them that they forget that they are supposed to be introverted.”
When stating opinions and debating, for example, Bethanie chooses topics that inspire strong opinions to get her students involved.
Emilie del Risco
“You’ve got to build that comfort level…let them know it’s okay to make mistakes and to have rapport building be the focus for the first couple weeks of school.”
Emilie focuses on relationships first, and once her students feel seen and comfortable, she finds it easier to move on to more academic concerns.
“The bottom line is that language acquisition isn’t about production; it’s about reception. So, often, it’s the introverted kids who are doing the best. They just aren’t showing it off.”
Laurie looks carefully at why certain students are introverted. If it’s their personality, she knows there’s no point in trying to change them. Instead, she engages with them one on one or in smaller groups. If students are introverted due to a lack of confidence, Laurie finds that she has to give them opportunities to feel successful.
“Define ‘participate.’ Participation looks different for a lot of different kids.”
Meredith recommends discussing with students what participation looks like for all students. She asks them what it looks like when they are enjoying the class and learning as well as what makes her students look forward to coming to class. This approach works especially well for students whose introversion can be explained by different reasons. Meredith makes sure that she does not assign presentations at the novice level, which is reassuring to introverted beginners. As well, she feels that fair and unbiased definitions of participation are important to students as well as the availability of a lot of options. Meredith allows students to work independently instead of in a group for example, and she provides modifications for all exercises.
“All of it comes down to class culture.”
“Let them be themselves in the classroom.”
Jen can personally relate to this question having experienced what it’s like to be an introverted student herself, and she looks for ways to help introverted students get comfortable with their classmates. In her experience, small group conversations often go well. Jen has found that students who tend to be unwilling to volunteer in front of the entire class are usually willing to speak in the context of a small group.
Erin Gilreath Carlson
“I randomly assign [students] a partner every day… that way, they get to know each other on a one on one basis.”
Erin explains that this technique makes a large class feel friendlier and full of people students know rather than strangers. This interaction can chip away at the discomfort some students feel in a classroom environment.
“The storytelling helps to get all the kids engaged…everybody in the class has to add something to the story so it becomes a whole-class story.”
Albert likes to teach with activities that ask students to vote on suggestions for characters’ details. He enjoys a circle activity where each student offers a detail about the story for him to use.
“I do a lot of work in pairs.”
For Kristin, small groups and partner work works best. She avoids doing activities that involve full group presentation, and she doesn’t penalize students for not volunteering to participate.
“Some of those introverted kids have interests similar to mine…they see I make class feel welcoming.”
“I don’t push them farther than I have to.”
Jeremy uses different ways to make all of his students feel like they are a part of the class. He observes that a lot of his introverted kids are actually better at the language so they get the subtle jokes he includes; as well, he offers them opportunities to contribute to the class by giving them jobs to do. Jeremy explains that he finds that his efforts to engage quiet students in a sensitive and considerate way make these less outgoing students feel included and appreciated.
“It comes down to giving them a lot of different mediums, a lot of choices.”
Michaela has noticed that, in some situations, she finds out later that a quiet student is actually a language superstar; often, her highest-achieving students are the least likely ones to display their expertise. She works with students who are shy by allowing them to deliver presentations only to her instead of to the entire class, for example; these students must make an appointment with her and follow through in order to earn the grade.
“Not every kid engages in the same way.”
Jodi credits Bryce Hedstrom with an insight about students that makes a lot of sense to her: not all students demonstrate engagement in the same way. She tries to offer all of her students the chance to show they have acquired the language in different ways.
“Speaking a language doesn’t actually make you better at the language.”
Tina has noticed that her shy students still acquire language even though they don’t necessarily demonstrate their knowledge in class. She finds that just sitting and paying attention is sometimes enough for these students to learn, but passive learning isn’t always enough for her school administrators. A speaking rubric that asks students to speak to each other has proven to be a great solution for both her students and her leadership team.
Learn more about the Spanish Teacher Success Academy online professional development sessions that bring together 25 world-class experts who will share with you the best strategies for teaching Spanish.