I'm not quiet. There, I said it. I talk too loud, I've been kicked out of libraries, and sometimes I realize a few seconds too late that I shouldn't have said what I did (as loudly as I said it). This quality makes me a big participant and an incessant questioner when I am a student in a classroom. As a result, I find kids like this easy to teach. I understand what makes them tick. The ones that have me stymied are the quiet ones.
This isn't a new phenomenon. For as long as I have been teaching, I always react with surprise when the quiet students thank me for a good year or ask me to write their letters of recommendations. My fallback position is that if students are quiet, they hate the class. Or, at the very least, are counting the minutes until it's over. I know this isn't 100% rational, especially this many years into my career where many quiet students have expressed satisfaction or gratitude. Still, this many years into my career, I still don't think I am serving this population very well.
What has me thinking about this is a collision of two factors. First, it's a new year and people tend to reflect and resolve. There is a resolution in this somewhere for me. Second, my school made a change to make year-long classes into two semesters so students receive final grades twice a year instead of once. The result was that some students who might have raised their Cs to Bs by May finished in December with Cs. I have a group of quiet girls who have done their homework and tried hard and probably studied, at least a little bit, and are stuck at Cs. I'd like to find a way to help them improve.
I've added Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking to my reading list. I've considered offering a before school help session that is a small group of quiet students to see if in a small setting I can offer better assistance. I already use small group settings in class, but I could probably do a better job with letting students process thoughts for more time before reporting ideas to the whole class. None of this feels, though, like it will revolutionize my practice. Well, maybe I don't need a revolution, but I do need something bigger than a tweak.
What would you suggest? I'd love to hear your ideas.