When teaching, it can be difficult to engage your whole class all of the time, but you may have noticed that one or two students participate less than the rest. You may also have found that those students are often seated at the back of the classroom. This is not to say that students who sit in the back are bad students; there is any number of reasons why they’re not contributing as much as their peers.
Here are a few things to consider and ways to help these students get the most out of your teaching:
1. Low Confidence
Self-confidence is a big issue for some students, and it’s often a large part of their reasoning for sitting at the back of the class and out of the way. Whether they simply dislike speaking in front of the class or they have low confidence in their academic abilities, recognizing their worry can help. Once you know the source of their concern, you can begin to offer these students support and gradually build up their self-confidence.
2. Lack of Rapport
Students at the back of the class can find it far harder to build up a rapport with their teacher because there is less eye contact and less interaction between teacher and student, in general. This can cause students at the back of the class to feel distant and less involved in lessons.
Try to focus on different areas of the room as you talk, so each student knows they are included. You could even get your students to make placemats, which are shuffled before some lessons and dealt out to seats at random. This helps rearrange the class without singling anyone out.
3. Easily Overlooked
If the student in the back is quite shy, they may want to participate but struggle to indicate it. They may not raise their hand as high as others or speak as loudly. When these students are seated in the back, it can be difficult to pick up on their responses. However, if you pay careful attention to these students, you can learn to identify when they’re trying to get your attention. Planning lessons where you work your way around the room asking questions is a great way to get these students involved.
4. Difficulty Seeing and Hearing
One more problem for students at the back of the class is that they may struggle to keep up with what’s going on in lessons simply because they’re too far away from you and the board. Remember to verify whether everyone can see and hear, and encourage students to let you know either during or after the lesson if they have problems.
It can be frustrating when a student doesn’t participate; however, there may be a bigger issue at hand than just lack of interest. With a little understanding and support, you can get to the bottom of it and help these students make the most of their time in your class.
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