This article was co-authored by Ashley Pritchard, MA and by wikiHow staff writer, Sophia Latorre. Ashley Pritchard is an Academic and School Counselor at Delaware Valley Regional High School in Frenchtown, New Jersey. Ashley has over 3 years of high school, college, and career counseling experience. She has an MA in School Counseling with a specialization in Mental Health from Caldwell University and is certified as an Independent Education Consultant through the University of California, Irvine.
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Many teachers or courses now assign a participation grade to students. Participating in class can not only improve your grade but also show your teacher that you are a good student. Speaking up shows you care about the class and are interested in the material (even if you might not be). Introducing yourself before the course starts, staying on top of your homework, coming to class prepared with a few questions or comments, and being respectful of others’ opinions will make it easy for you to participate in class.
Part 1Part 1 of 3:Preparing for Class
- 1Develop a relationship with your teacher. Make a point to introduce yourself to your teacher before class starts. This is a great way to make a good impression. Introducing yourself is especially important if you are in a large class, such as a lecture with hundreds of other students, as your teacher may never even learn your name otherwise. It shows your teacher that you care about the class and are willing to put in the effort.
- If you are in a high school class, see your teacher outside of class hours. Meet to discuss any issues or challenges you are having, or simply to discuss something in particular that piqued your interest. If you are in a college course, visit your teacher during their office hours. Ask questions, raise concerns, or bring work that is in progress to get your teacher’s feedback.
- 2Do your homework. This is one of the most important steps. You will not be prepared to speak in class if you have not done the assignments beforehand. Many teachers will use the assigned reading as the basis for the next day’s discussion, so be sure to stay on top of all reading and assignments.XResearch sourceAdvertisement
- 3Prepare what you will say before the class starts. While doing your homework, make note of anything that confuses or intrigues you. Write down questions or comments in your notebook for the next class session. Consider what you are learning in the context of the entire unit and year.XResearch source
- If you are learning about military strategies in WWII, relate it to WWI strategies that you learned about earlier in the year. You could say "it’s interesting that the machine gun was developed during WWI but it really helped turn the tide during WWII."
- Relate what you have read to real-world issues or decisions. You could ask "did you know that after Melville’s White Jacket was published Congress banned flogging in the Navy?"
- 4Learn your teacher's "style." If you take the time to learn how your teacher manages the class, you will be more prepared to participate. Some teachers, especially in more objective subjects and classes, will simply ask for answers. Others will ask for opinions or interpretations, and some will do both.
- If you know that your teacher generally asks questions from the lecture notes from the day before, take good notes. If your teacher asks for opinions, think about where you stand in relation to the issues you have read or learned about. Do you agree or disagree, and why?
Part 2Part 2 of 3:Staying Engaged During Class
- 1Ensure you’re ready for class. Make sure your basic needs have been met before class starts. If you haven’t eaten anything in hours, your hunger will likely be a distraction. Make sure you are dressed appropriately and have eaten and used the restroom before class. Bring a water bottle or other beverage and wear layers in case you become uncomfortable.
- 2Pay attention. Try not to daydream or stare out the windows. Don’t let your neighbors be a distraction, either. Refrain from looking at your phone or texting while in class. If you use a computer, be sure to stay on task; don’t use the time to surf the web or check your social media. XResearch source
- 3Participate with your body language. Give the class and teacher your honest, undivided attention. Look at the teacher, or student, who is speaking. Make eye contact and nod when you agree or understand what is being said.
Part 3Part 3 of 3:Speaking Up During Class
- 1Relax. If you’re a bundle of nerves, you may find it hard to speak up. Take a few deep breaths before you raise your hand to speak. Remind yourself that you are prepared and that you have something important to say or ask. Sure, all eyes may be on you, but only for a minute or two. More likely than not, other students will think you are brave and smart for participating.
- 2Speak clearly. When you have something to say, speak as clearly and concisely as possible. Don’t mumble or look at the floor while you are talking. Address the teacher (or student) directly. Don’t be cocky or condescending, just be confident.
- 3Answer questions posed by your teacher. Don’t be afraid to give an incorrect answer or an unpopular opinion. Your teacher will likely approve of the effort you are putting in, even if what you say is not exactly what they were looking for.
- 4Answer questions posed by other students. You may be able to explain the concept differently than your teacher, which could be helpful to other students. This will also show the teacher that you're paying attention, which they will appreciate.XResearch source
- 5Ask questions. If something is confusing to you, ask about it. This pertains to questions you may have written down while doing your homework as well as to material that is new to that day’s class. Other students are likely wondering the same thing you are, and the teacher will be glad to take a few minutes to clarify an issue.XResearch source
- 6Give your opinion. Don’t be afraid to respectfully disagree with a student, the author of what you’ve read, or even your teacher. Don’t insult anyone, even in a debate, but don’t feel like to have to agree with everyone either.
- If you disagree, say something along the lines of "I can see why you feel that way, but in my opinion…" or "from my point of view…"
- 7Find a balance. Don’t try to answer every question or give an opinion on every topic. At the same time, don’t think that answering one question the entire semester or year is going to cut it. Aim to speak up once or twice per class session. However, don’t just speak to speak. Make sure you have something relevant to say.
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- QuestionHow can I speak more in class?Ashley Pritchard, MAAshley Pritchard is an Academic and School Counselor at Delaware Valley Regional High School in Frenchtown, New Jersey. Ashley has over 3 years of high school, college, and career counseling experience. She has an MA in School Counseling with a specialization in Mental Health from Caldwell University and is certified as an Independent Education Consultant through the University of California, Irvine.
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