Hearing silent voices

Hearing silent voices

Something that has become very apparent to me in my first two school visits is that some voices just don’t get heard in the class. There are 25 kids in my class, and of them about 7 don’t speak up. A few of those 7 children can actually go an entire day saying almost nothing at all. The others might say a few words such as ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or the like.

Luckily there is small group work at least once a day, so those children often do get a chance to say something to a few of their peers. However, there are two students who don’t speak at all, even in group work.


  • There are some children who seem to speak for the entire class. Their voices and personality rise above all the rest. They take up the majority of the teacher’s time and they dominate almost all activities.
  • There is one EAL child in the class who does not seem to speak ever. He says only the word “nothing” in response to anything you ask.
  • Pat does not seem too concerned about the students who do not speak. She does not call on them to provide answers to her questions.


  • How can we leverage the talkative students’ personality and voice?
  • How can we engage students with quiet voices?
  • How can we get to know why the quiet students are not speaking up? Are they scared, are they bored? Are they suffering emotional issues? Is it a cultural barrier?
  • Is it normal that some students don’t speak?
  • Is it my job to encourage quiet students to speak, or should I just let them be?
  • Is there something going on here that I am not aware of?
  • How can I create a space where quiet students feel safe to speak up?
  • Is this a matter of Social Emotional Learning or Self-Regulated Learning? Both?

It seems to me that a classroom with a strong community culture would be able to make space for the quiet students. I want to find out more about this. It’s very important to me that my students feel safe in class. That they can speak their mind. On the other hand, I don’t want everyone to force themselves into a particular way of being.

This is potentially something I am interested in exploring further in my inquiry project.