Do you sit in class and worry about whether you should or shouldn’t speak up? Do you try to get your words just right in your mind before you’ll raise your hand? Then, by the time you’re ready to speak, the class has moved on to something else and you’ve lost your confidence?
It’s not a surprise that as a student, you are expected to add to classroom discussions, to assert your ideas/opinions/thoughts in a respectful way… to contribute to a shared, rich learning community. You are expected to talk in class! (Just to clarify: You are supposed to contribute to class discussion, not talk to those around you).
My opinion? — It is not possible to find your voice without speaking up in class–even if what you say isn’t perfect! And finding your voice in class takes practice and time. Some people need to “talk out” their ideas to process them. Some people need to fumble before their message is clear. Some people need to test the waters to gauge reaction before continuing. This is all part of learning about ourselves as communicators.
So what’s the communication lesson here? Remember that college is the place to craft and hone your communication skills. When you are in class and your prof calls for open discussion, join in. If your prof doesn’t include open discussion, feel free to raise your hand and ask a question anyway. You will likely give other students the courage to raise their hands, too. Then, check you out as the discussion starter!
Your professor will greatly appreciate you keeping the conversation going, too. (We love, love, love when students do that… silences are terribly uncomfortable. Any prof will tell you!).