The Shyness Project

Archive for the category “Month 3 Class Participation”

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Guess What?

I finally asked a question in my psychology class!!!  😀

The title of Vee’s post “You got a question?  I got the answer” ( are the words that came to mind afterward when I felt a feeling of pride and confidence .

I had my questions for this chapter planned in advance ready to ask two weeks before this, but it turned out that we weren’t going through the chapters in order so my notes I had prepared weren’t going to be discussed until later.  So I didn’t end up asking a question 2 weeks ago, and the week before that, which were the other two times I really tried to participate in.  We went over that chapter this night, and I was finally able to ask a question.  Slow and steady wins the race they say, and even though it took a while to build up the courage to ask a question in this class, it was definitely worth the time.  It was my major goal for this part of the project, and through fulfilling my mini goals in my smaller classes, I gradually achieved it.

So, let me tell you how it happened.

Before going to class, I picked out 3 possible questions that I thought would be good to ask.  I had the question written out clearly so I knew what I was going to say and how I was going to say it ahead of time.

Fast forward to the class, 6pm on a Wednesday night.  In the beginning she went through a couple of slides and there were no questions.  As her lecture got closer to the part where I knew I had a question written, my heart started beating really fast.  I focused on it and told myself calmly to slow it down and eventually it slowed down to a nearly normal rate.  The slide came up that included the part that I was planning to ask a question about, and I listened anxiously as she talked about the other things for a while until eventually she brought up “insight”.  After she talked about it a little bit and gave the definition, she paused for a brief moment.  I raised my hand quickly at that moment, but then she continued and I put my hand back down.  When she was done, she extended her arm out to me, signally me to ask my question.

I asked, “What’s going on in the brain during insight?” and to my delight, she said that was a very good question and talked about it for a while.  Someone else asked a question and then she continued even more.  I didn’t feel immediate euphoria afterward, just relaxed and content, like I didn’t realize what I had just done.  I then thought about it and I smiled and I said “way to go Brittany” in my mind and then got more excited about it when I got home.  It wasn’t so bad after all.

During another question the teacher asked us to raise our hand if we thought choice A was right or choice B was right.  It was a question on representative heuristics (judging the likelihood of things in terms of how they seem to represent or match particular prototypes) and she gave us a scenario in which we were supposed to say whether it was more likely that this person (who had all these altruistic interests) were more likely to (A) be a bank teller or (B) a bank teller who volunteers with Green Peace.  From reading my book I knew where she was going with this.  I raised my hand for A, with only a few others, and most raised their hand for B, and quite a few didn’t raise their hands at all. She reached her arm out in my direction and asked me to explain why I picked A.  At first I didn’t realize she was pointing to me so I paused for a second, and then figured she must mean me and then answered.  I kind of rambled because I didn’t know how to word my explanation exactly, but tried to get across that there are more chances of her being a bank teller than specifically a bank teller who volunteers with Green Peace because being a volunteer with Green Peace is too specific and reduces the odds.  Then she pointed to a person who picked B and had them explain why they picked B, and they said they did because she was very active in community service and volunteer work.  She then said A was correct and many people were surprised.

At the end of class for the first time, I got to sign the participation sheet.  Each week the teacher has a sign in sheet for you to sign if you participate in class by asking a question, answering question, or making a comment.  If you participate 80% of the time and have good attendance, she will round up borderline grades.  There was a bit of a line this time of people waiting to sign.  When it was finally my turn to sign, I picked up the pen and let the moment sink in.  I signed slowly and set the pen back down, gazing back down at my name included with the list of others.  It felt good to see my name there.  Patricia signed her name after me, and we walked out together and then parted ways.

This night was a huge success for me.  I was very proud and happy afterward and made sure to congratulate myself in my own dorky way.  (hugging myself like a freak and smiling the hugest smile I can while shutting my eyes)   🙂

How Can a Teacher Get More Students to Participate?

On Monday in 6th period my teacher had us start off class by randomly playing a socializing game.  He had us write a funny question based on a word he said and then had us go to someone else and ask questions and swap cards.

I went and talked to some people I usually talk to (about 3 people) who sit around me, and then talked to about 6 others who I don’t talk to much and who sit further away.  Most people just kind of stayed in their group and asked their friends though, which made it harder to talk to some people who only seemed to socialize with their group.  He encouraged us to go outside our comfort zone though.

Afterward, he got serious and asked us how he could get more people to participate in class.  One guy said aloud that he felt that only the same 3 people answered on a regular basis.  He included himself in that as well as two others, which he pointed out.  The teacher said he didn’t expect him to take it there, but that was interesting.  He asked why that was.

One of the people pointed out said aloud that they’re either too shy or didn’t read. They also don’t want to embarrass themselves if they ask something stupid.  The teacher asked the other person who was pointed out why he answers so much and he said it was because he had nothing to lose, and doesn’t think he has much of a reputation.

I didn’t say anything aloud, but I thought that if maybe he had us raise our hand instead of allowing people to just talk out all the time it would be easier for the hesitant people in my class (myself included) to answer before one of those 3 just speak aloud their answer right away.  I noticed the day after that the person who said they’re either too shy or don’t want to embarrass themselves answered nearly every question he said right away by just speaking aloud, so I don’t see how there’s even a chance sometimes.  Other ideas could be giving us time to write out our answers and have more time to think about it.  He could also have us get with partners and discuss our answers in case people are afraid they have a stupid answer.  Or there could be nonverbal ways of participating, like writing out answers on white boards or something.

I felt kind of flushed like maybe his comment was directed at shy people like me, even though I have been participating much more than I ever have lately.  Then I woke up to reality and realized that if only 3 out of a class of 30 regularly participates, I must not be the only one shy and nervous about answering.  I think other people care about participating, even if they pretend like they don’t.

Another One of those Updates

There haven’t been too many classroom raising-hand opportunities lately as we’ve had some school events and assemblies going on, as well as a lot of computer work.  There have been a few opportunities though, particularly in 1st and 6th period again, and I raised my hand quickly to ask my question and got my answer.  At least now when I have a question I usually ask it, whereas before I used to just try to figure it out on my own or ask around me.

Tomorrow is the last day of school for a while because Spring Break is next week.  I’ll have a week off from all my classes, which will be nice even though unfortunately it might be raining all week.

Lately I’ve been more outgoing though, and have given out compliments to friends as well as people I don’t know well when I thought they did a good job at something or were wearing something I liked, etc.  I’ve also received a lot of compliments, and I’m glad that I say “thank you” now opposed to several years ago when I wouldn’t believe it as much.  I’ve also talked to some of my teachers more and have been going up to them more one-on-one and asking questions.  I’ve spent more time with friends too, reconnecting with a friend I haven’t hung out with in a while, and hanging out with someone I’ve never hung out with outside of school before.  So things have been good, and I’m doing well.


Ugh, I was trying really hard to raise my hand in psych class tonight, but still I couldn’t do it!!  I had read the chapter in advance, written out all the notes in advance off of her powerpoint notes that she’d be showing tonight, made flash cards, knew the material really well, and even had about 7 possible questions I could ask on the side of my notes, and STILL I didn’t raise my hand!

Why is this class so hard for me to participate in?  Is it because there are more people and a majority of them are older than me?  I guess I do feel a little intimated, I think I’m one of very few high schoolers in the class.  But I got an A on the last test and she said there were only 5 A’s total in the class, so it’s not like I’m not doing well in her class or what I say isn’t going to be intelligent enough.

It’s just when that class gets going, I get in this comfort zone that’s hard to break out of.  It’s easy to hesitate and not act when she pauses.  I’m very envious of the people who can just speak aloud what they want to say or ask questions on a regular basis.  It seems like my questions aren’t really that necessary for me to ask, because I already know the material so well and don’t really need my questions answered since they’ve just been thought up for the sake of asking a question.  And the questions I thought of she often went over so there wasn’t really anything I could say after that.

So maybe I should try not doing my notes, reading, or making the flash cards and see if I can think of more questions when I don’t know the material as well?  I don’t know, this is tricky…I was in the right mind set tonight too, feeling confident and like I could do this.  But I just couldn’t move my arm and ask what I had prepared.  I’m definitely going to keep trying though.

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School Update

Here’s an update on how my week at school has been:

On Monday I didn’t raise my hand for anything despite a few opportunities that I feel like I should have taken. There are some times when I have a harder time getting out of my comfort zone and raising my hand, and this was one of those days.  I did have some other accomplishments though.

I talked to my 4th period teacher about community college when he came by, and I usually don’t say much to him so he thinks I’m especially quiet.  He was passing back my report card and asked if I was going to UC Berkeley or something, and I told him how I was thinking I’d probably go to community college.  We discussed this for a while and I told him how I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do yet career-wise and it seemed like a smarter choice for me.  He went to community college too and thinks it’s a really good way to go.  He told me about some of his past students who went to community college and what not, and we talked for a good while.

In 6th period my teacher was talking to the guy next to me about college sports and he mentioned intramurals.  After listening for a while and having nothing else to do really because I was already done with the assignment, I turned to face them both and asked about intramurals.  From there on I was in on the conversations, though I only added something every once in a while and mostly listened. I didn’t want to invade their conversation which was why it took me a while to finally chime in, but of course it was fine and I was welcomed to add to the conversation.

On Tuesday I raised my hand first period by asking a question about a project.  I was nervous and my heart was beating fast again, but I just told myself that this was just life flowing through me.  I tried to take a deep breath, and then raised my hand.  It cleared up my question, and I felt good that I asked and it was in front of the class.

On Wednesday(today) I raised my hand second period when my teacher asked for improvements to make on a website selling cars.  I said the site needed to have a phone number on the contact page, and needed some sort of color scheme.  There were a lot of opportunities to raise my hand 6th period today, but for some reason I was back in one of those moods again where I just felt like sticking to myself.

So at least I now know that it is possible for me to raise my hand if I put my mind to it, even if I can’t always do it every time I feel like I should.  I still get the racing heart and nervous feeling, but it seems like it’s gotten better.  At least I haven’t started shaking since the very first time!  🙂

Chatting with One of My Teachers

Yesterday I raised my hand in second period and asked a question. It was just one-on-one with the teacher though because it’s a computer class with mostly independent work, but still, I don’t raise my hand much.

In 5th period I talked to my teacher for the first time.  I’m really silent around him even though I sit right up in the front.  I asked him a question since I missed his class yesterday(I had to do my internship 5th and 6th period).  It was one-on-one once again.  My first question was related to things I needed to do the lab I had to make-up, and after that, I asked him how his presentation went last Friday.  (He mentioned last week that he was going to do a presentation and I had intended to ask him on Monday but didn’t.)  It seemed like something good to talk about, and I wanted to know how it went.  He laughed and told me how only a few people showed up in the audience.  But he sent out an email to a bunch of people saying how it was first time presenting his subject like that and was really happy with how it turned out and was a great success.  He sent it as a joke and was just playing around, but apparently someone took it seriously and sent it to someone high up and important, and now everyone thinks he had some wonderful presentation.  He thought it was funny though, and I made a few comments and smiled along with him.  🙂

At night, I had my psychology class.  I didn’t raise my hand, but I did make a valuable observation that should help me in the future.  When she asks questions, she asks them in a sort of conversational manner, so often someone will just chime in without having to raise their hand.

I had studied up on the material really well so I could answer her questions, but I wasn’t prepared to ask questions.  I couldn’t think of any that night, I just felt too tired and was simply taking info in.

I’m not upset with myself though, which is nice.  I’m ok with taking it slow for this class.  I know it will be the hardest, so I will just keep taking smaller steps by participating in my smaller high school classes.  This should help and better prepare me.

Two in a Row

In first period today I raised my hand to answer a simple math question! 🙂  I did feel a little nervous beforehand and hesitated once the room got silent.  But I did it quick enough where I didn’t have too much time to think about it. She didn’t see my hand though, so I just said it aloud surprisingly enough.  I said how to solve the problem and the answer that you would get.

It was a good thing I answered because she was starting to think we couldn’t do simple math.  She then asked if anyone had a calculator, and she looked at me and saw I had one.  So I offered to do the calculations that she asked me to put in and I read them aloud.

I spoke more all period than anyone else did in the class, though after a while I thought some of the others were probably getting annoyed with me.  But if they thought that oh well, that’s the second time I’ve ever raised my hand in her class so it’s not like I say much often.

It felt good, and the more I spoke aloud the more confident I became and could keep speaking.  I even spoke without raising my hand since most of my teacher’s attention was on me and she sort of expected me to keep answering I think.  Usually I always feel the need to raise my hand to answer questions because I’ve gotten so used to it over the years, but now in my senior year classes and college class it seems like it’s not really expected anymore.  That’s probably because by now the teachers figure we know when to talk so we’re not interrupting.  I still prefer raising my hand though.

Does anyone else feel like they still want to raise their hand even when they don’t really have to?

First Participation!

This morning I went to school with the mindset that I would start working on my newest goal: participating in class.  I didn’t necessarily expect myself to go into raising my hand right away though.  I figured I would just try and observe my reactions to see if I could somewhat control them.

I did more than I planned on though.  😉

In first period I decided to say something to the guy next to me, who is also very quiet.  I asked him a question about one of the assignments for the sake of starting some sort of conversation even though I didn’t really need to know the answer.  He wasn’t sure about the answer, but he smiled and spoke softly. I’m glad I asked him because he seemed friendly and sweet.

Then our teacher talked for a while about when the upcoming assignments were due (answering the question I didn’t really need to know anyway since I was already done).  After she finished talking, she passed back papers.  I raised my hand quick before I could put too much thought into it and asked her a question from one of the assignments.  The whole class was talking then and no one was paying attention, so it was much easier to raise my hand and just talk one-on-one with the teacher.  I later asked her another question without raising my hand when she walked past my desk.  She was able to help me, and I got all my questions sorted out.

At lunch I sat with a group of 7 friends that I don’t know too well, except one of them I am close to.  I felt more aware of my shyness in the larger group and noticed that lunch is a lot more fun when I’m just spending it with a couple of close friends in a small group or one-on-one with someone.  We all sat on the ground in a spread out oval-like shape, and I contributed every once in a while to the conversations, but not as much as I normally would in a smaller group.  I felt like I couldn’t talk loud enough to be heard by all the people in the group and a lot of them were able to talk pretty loudly, so I didn’t say too much.

In 6th period, I started thinking more about raising my hand in class.  In this class the teacher always asks a lot of questions and asks for people to volunteer, so I knew this would be a good class to start participating in.  I’ve raised my hand a few times in his class, but most of the time I think about answering and then can’t bring myself to do it and feel incredibly awkward.  A couple questions were asked that I could have possibly answered, but my heart started beating really fast at the thought.  So I paid attention to it and tried to slow it down a little and remind myself of past successes I’ve had when I’ve contributed in his class, and it helped a little.

Then he asked a question about a topic from the book that I had written my journal entry on, and I knew if I was going to answer any question it’d be that one, since I had already written out my answer for the journal prompt.  I felt ridiculously nervous though, more than I have felt in a long time. I was actually shaking a little, and was wondering why I had set this goal for myself and how easy it would be to just not do it.

But I raised my hand as soon as the question was asked.  I was called on, and as I answered my voice was a little shaky embarrassingly enough. It also sounded a little raspy and not like it normally does.  I found that I couldn’t talk as loud as I would have liked to have, and felt like I could have projected more.  But I did it, and he liked my response, and called on another guy who had a different response, but he said they both are two valid ways of seeing things.  He then asked if I could think of an example of what I said from the book and right away I thought of one on the spot and brought up another good point, which he was glad I brought up.

Afterward I was so relieved to have done my participating for the day, it felt pretty good.  I thought now all I had left in my day was going home, eating some cake my mom made since she hadn’t been able to make me a cake last week, and walking the dogs.  I was happy with myself, and I’m so relieved to have the first one out of the way.  I guess I can do this after all!  Next time hopefully I won’t start shaking though, because that was a little overwhelming and I didn’t expect that.

Raising Hand in Class Fear and Shyness

I’ve never been one to actively participate in class.  I’ve always done all my work, but I’ve done it quietly and mostly keep to myself.  When the teacher asks a question, I hesitate to respond and feel uncomfortable even thinking about the possibility of being picked to answer or to raise my hand.

I knew it was bad, but these past few days when I’ve been attempting to raise my hand surprised me with how difficult it was for me to do it.  It was so hard that I couldn’t even bring myself to do it when I planned on doing it.

When the question was asked or there was time for comments, I thought carefully about what I could say in my head. But just the mere thought of answering the question and raising my hand made my sympathetic nervous system go out of control.  My heart started pounding, my arm went limp, and my hands felt a little sweaty.  I also had a lot of negative thoughts in my head that were urging me to keep my hand down, so I felt like I was frozen.

In my psych class last week I thought of questions I could ask in advance since I had already read the week’s reading.  But when the time came when I could ask questions, I found that I couldn’t bring myself to ask them before someone else said something that changed the topic or she moved on to the next subject.  I was actually going to answer the very first question she asked, but I only got to awkwardly raising my hand half way before someone else just yelled out the answer and she moved on.

And in Lit class, there was a question I could have easily answered but when he asked the question and the room got silent, I couldn’t raise my hand and break the silence.  But I guess maybe my teacher could tell that I was trying to answer because I kept eye contact with him, and he said my name.  I answered with ease then just fine when I had been called on, but for some reason answering without being specifically called on is a lot harder for me.

So March will be about participating in class.  I’m not sure how I’m going to do it or what my specific goal will be yet, but I’m going to do it.  Maybe if I just don’t think about what I’m doing like I did when I made phone calls to reconnect with friends it’ll be easier?  I’ll find out I guess.  If anyone has ever had a similar fear to mine or has any tips on how you overcame your fear, I’d love to hear from you.  And if you just want to make comments in general, I’d be happy to hear them.

Asking Questions and Handing Out Cookies

Today in first period we had a discussion on exchange rates of currency in other countries.   Our teacher talked about it for a while and showed us a website where we could calculate different exchange rates.  She showed us various graphs of the changes in time of the value of a certain currency, and it was interesting to me.  I had some questions in my head, but I wasn’t sure if they were dumb or good questions.

Near the end of her discussion, I thought about my questions.  When I started to seriously consider asking them, my heart pounded like crazy!

And I decided to ask anyways.  🙂

Apparently they were good questions because she thought about them for a while and then talked about them for a long time.  I think she was glad that I was really paying attention and thinking about what she was saying, since a majority of our class didn’t seem to be listening.

In second period, I took a Photoshop certification test and was the second in all my teacher’s classes to pass it!  I talked to my teacher quite a bit, and she said she was proud of me.  The test had a lot of problems and had ridiculously slow loading time, so much so that errors often popped up and it skipped questions.  I was surprised that I still was able to pass even with all those difficulties with the test.

I have third period with the same teacher, so I ended up staying in my same seat as I have second period as I was finishing up that test (even though I normally sit in a different seat third period).  It took over an hour to get through because of how slow it was.  Since I was in a different seat, someone different sat next to me.  I don’t know her well but I know that she’s very nice.  I talked to her a little about the dance tonight and she showed me a picture of her dress on her phone.  After I finished taking the test, we helped each other out with a Photoshop project we were all working on together as a class.  One of my friends, Sue, had brought me cookies and a really nice card that morning for my birthday (since it’s on Sunday).  I offered the girl I was sitting next to one of the cookies, and she smiled and said thank you.  She then told me happy birthday and we talked about turning 18.

When I saw Sue later I offered her one of her own cookies, and she was eager to have one too.  Later in 5th period I gave another cookie to my lab partner Ben and he apparently liked it a lot because he was acting silly and dancing after I gave it to him.

Several people wished me happy birthday throughout the day, and it was nice.  I had a pretty good day, and I’m looking forward to the weekend!

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