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  1. My first period 8th grade class is quiet as well, except for the usual 1 or 2 who contribute. There’s only ten in there, so yeah its frustrating. I’m used to having 20 to 30 students so I’m already flummoxed by so few kids. My solution is to do a lot of group improv with them where its teacher led exercises with everyone involved, (“What are you doing?” , “Yes, thats great,” etc…). This keeps them all involved and they eventually start to break out.
    My second period, on the other hand, is talkative, but they think they’re too cool to even read a script. I’m having more trouble out of them than any other class I’ve EVER taught. they just do not participate AT ALL or they make fun of others, despite my scolding and disciplinary measures.

  2. Hi Cashy,

    I’m familiar with this issue 🙂 I always find that I have to meet them where they are. It’s frustrating and in my opinion fruitless to try to ‘pump them up’ and be something that they are not – I’ve tried that and I end up the resident clown and they feel intimidated. Unfortunately you have such little time with them that you are limited in terms of what you can achieve. But I often try different things and see what works. Once I found it, just keep repeating it–I find that shy students love predictability, they take a long time to open up and that is one process you cannot force or they will clam up on you tighter than before. My approach is:

    1. I try to get to know each child a little
    2. Try to interact with them on their level of energy (to make them feel safe) and try to push them gently to up their energy bit by bit every lesson (make this aim explicit to them and set it as a challenge)
    3. allow them to choose their groups (I know some Drama teachers don’t like this, but I find that they feel more comfortable)
    3. Set them achievable goals – I often change the curriculum to suit my classes (I have that luxury, and a bit more time I guess)
    4. Experiment – try different things – props, costume, music, naturalistic scenes … see what they like
    5. Wait a LONG time to hear an answer from a specific student … it’s always so tempting to answer one’s own questions or to go to the next student, but I think shy students need more time … and tell them that it’s OK to take your time and think about it, they might be slow but deep processors

    I too struggle with these kinds of classes Cashy! My biggest advice is change the curriculum to give them an ‘in’ (I often run naturalistic acting workshops with classes like this, I have found that they respond well to ‘serious’ acting–it’s lower risk) but this may not always be desirable or possible.

    Hope all is wonderful and awesomeness!