March/April 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 6

How to Encourage and Engage Shy Students

Posted: Friday, March 1st, 2013

by Amanda L. Smith

Shyness has no single definition, but it’s generally described as a feeling of uncomfortableness in social situations in ways that interfere with our ability to enjoy ourselves, to perform at the level we’re capable of or, that cause us to avoid social situations altogether.  It can come from a variety of sources such as disappointment from earlier childhood experiences, having predisposition to anxiety, or due to learning disabilities that cause difficulties with reading social cues. Since learning is clearly a social activity, it’s important for us to help students overcome this potential obstacle. Getting students to realize that shyness is a feeling more than it is a personality trait will give them hope that they can master their feelings and learn to muster courage when desired. 

So what can a teacher due to help their students deal with their shyness?  First, normalizing shyness in the classroom and keeping it in a positive light can provide a safe environment for learning.  Second, making even little contacts with students everyday can make them feel more connected to their peers, teacher, and learning environment.  This can be as simple as a smile, a morning handshake or high-five, or a verbal acknowledgement.  Finally, give shy students a classroom job to do.  These can be a great way to help “break the ice” between shy students and their peers. Some job ideas are door monitor, paper monitor, line leader, or trash collector.  Of course, different levels of shyness within each child need to be considered, as to not push the child into a classroom job that is too interactive when they are not up to it.

Shy children crave attention just like all your other students, but may dread it at the same time.   A simple but effective way to boost the self-esteem of a shy child is to post their achievements on your classroom bulletin board. Even a short email to the parent of a shy child, (or directly to the child if they are in secondary school), with a simple, “Nice job today!” or, “Thanks for raising your hand and contributing to our discussion!” can give the shy child just enough confidence boosters over time to develop their classroom participation abilities and increase their engagement.

Science can be a particularly daunting subject, especially for your shy students.  From my own experience, I have noticed that students who are particularly shy in science tend to believe they have low aptitude and/or present low self-esteem when it comes to the ability to do well in science.  To reach these students, the science teacher may have to make more effort to get to know these students, and to encourage them to think about the relevancy and real-life connections of what science offers.  Also, with this increased bonding between teacher and student, the shy student will then be more motivated to study science and find small successes in day-to-day activities.  The goal is that over time, the student will be able to respond positively to this encouragement from the teacher and the shyness will slowly be replaced with confidence.

It’s also important to educate parents about shyness and skill development.  Parents can play games with their child at home to encourage and practice social skills, like raising hands to provide answers, reading stories aloud to the parent, (instead of the parent to the child), or putting on plays and skits.  The more the child can practice conquering the feeling of shyness, the more confidence the child will ultimately bring into the classroom setting.

Written by Amanda Smith

Amanda Smith is a science teacher at Wilder’s Preparatory Academy Charter School and a member of CSTA.

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California Science Curriculum Framework Now Available

Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.

For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.

The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Call for CSTA Awards Nominations

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Call for Volunteers – CSTA Committees

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

Volunteer

CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all-volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things: Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

A Friend in CA Science Education Now at CSTA Region 1 Science Center

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

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Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.

Learning to Teach in 3D

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Joseph Calmer

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I had an eye-opening experience that helped me with that question. It came out of a conversation that I had with a student teacher. It turns out that I’ve found the secret to learning how to teach with NGSS: I need to engage in dialogue about teaching with novice teachers. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching science in some capacity for 12 years. During that time pedagogy and student learning become sort of a “hidden curriculum.” It is difficult to plan a lesson for the hidden curriculum; the best way is to just have two or more professionals talk and see what emerges. I was surprised it took me so long to realize this epiphany. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.