by Marsha Pinto, The Huffington Post, 8/25/14
1. Being quiet doesn’t make us less smart.
Teachers don’t understand how frustrating it can get reading the comment, ” _____ is a great student but he/she doesn’t participate in class.”…
Still waters run deep. I know some teachers like to base grades on participation, but…it’s difficult for us to master the art of jumping in to a conversation or interrupting. We may not raise our hands as quickly as you want us to or say as much as you wanted us to, but honestly we just like to take our time to process our ideas. Does it even make a difference if we write more than we speak?
2. We’re not a problem that you need to solve.
Please don’t keep pestering us about when we’re going to talk. Sometimes there isn’t a reason why we are so quiet, it’s just part of who we are. Many people tend to assume that quiet people are stuck in this quiet prison and need to be rescued so that we can enjoy life…. This is not always the case. We quiet students are quite content with the way we are… until you start pointing out our faults. We often do not need the “help” you are suggesting, we just need your patience and understanding.
3. The phrase, “Speak up! I can’t hear you,” is embarrassing.
It was daunting enough when you caught us off-guard and put us on the spot to answer that question in front of the entire class, so please don’t embarrass us any further. We wish you only knew how much effort we put into taking the initiative to speak up.
If you can’t hear something we said please help us out, come closer and listen carefully to what we are trying to say. Please don’t belittle us in front of a crowd of people because that will do more harm than help.
4. Group projects can be stressful for us.
Sometimes we’re in a class where we don’t have any friends and other times you assign us to a group of people whom we don’t even know. There’s nothing wrong with group work and the benefits are no doubt important for our future, however quiet students are often taken advantage of in group projects…. Teachers need to assign each person in the group a role, rather than allowing students to [do it].
5. We’re not going to speak when we have nothing to say.
Teachers don’t understand that quiet students believe it’s not necessary to talk when you have nothing to say. No we are not being rude, it’s just that we believe that there’s no need to force out a couple of words just for the sake of doing so. You have no idea how much time we spend trying to formulate our speech before we actually say it out loud….
6. We have a personality.
Teachers, we know you don’t see us as the “ideal student,” but if you really came to look beyond our quiet ways you’d come to realize that there’s much more to us than meets the eye. We are writers, dreamers, creators, and a lot of other things you may think we never could be. We’d like to love ourselves for who we are…. Do not treat us any differently. We’re normal people who laugh, cry, have crazy obsessions, dislikes, and embarrassing moments. Who knows? Maybe we even have more in common with you than you think.
7. Don’t give up on us.
Teachers often assume that it’s not worth…getting to know the quiet students because they don’t have anything to say hence they don’t have potential. However, there are a few teachers who will take those extra steps to the back of the classroom to connect with the quiet student rather than judge them from a distance. We quiet students…appreciate you making the effort….
Quiet students hope that someday teachers everywhere will be able to appreciate the uniqueness we bring to the classroom and not make assumptions without really getting to know us….
Marsha Pinto, 19, is an activist for the “softest voices” and writes for the “Teen” section of The Huffington Post. Her website: softestvoices.com.
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