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Classroom Participation- still can't do it!


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I finally got in a Master's program (after applying for 3 years) and started a few months ago. After working for the past 9 years, with a few different opportunities in this field, past educational awards, and good knowledge as well, I'm still finding it hard to:


1. speak up during class discussions.

2. make friends in my classes (was very much looking fwd. to this, since we are all there with common interests). Somehow I'm not approached by people during our breaks and/or have had only very short conversations.


Somehow my confidence level and social skills wavers while in a group environment. I can talk easily with friends, particularly one-on-one, and with knowledge, confidence, and an opinion. But while in class, I just can't seem to vocalize what I know, and I Hate interrupting people (I feel like others are so well spoken and dominant). I've always been the shy girl sitting at the back of the classroom and thought that I would change this time around. But I'm digressing (kinda sad because I've also taught a little in the past and can project to a classroom of children but not when I'm not the teacher).


I also have a tiny, tiny voice (when I'm not joking around with friends, or yelling at family, LOL), and half the time, I have to try a few times to get others attention and/or classmates keep asking "What?" when I DO make the effort to talk to them.


I also feel it's some kind of social anxiety and my voice just gets tinier and tinier. When I first started the classes, I was pretty cherry and made sure to come off as open and friendly (I still felt like some of the Master's students talked down to me when I initiated conversation, b/c I look really young and they thought I was an Undergrad- I'm 30 btw). But I guess my normal demeanor is pretty chill, which comes off as cold. It's frustrating!

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I also have weird anxiety-heart starts racing, face gets flushed...you know the deal...when I do have something to say in class, but I'm waiting for the right time to interrupt, and half the time I give up, or the conversation has moved along by then.


There's that rule, you should always be the first one to say something in class- the teacher will think you're eager and good at participating. But also, you won't have to worry about someone else saying the same thing you wanted to, and it's also up to the next person to agree or disagree with you.


A classmate recently asked me, "why don't I say much in class? I look like I may not be paying attention or understand what's going on, but then when the teacher asks me a question, I answer it pretty intelligently". He kind of pissed me off. But I said that I HATE public speaking. He asked me, then how do you defend yourself? I said, when do I need to defend myself? He said, when you go to court.


I just can't seem to kick this inconfidence-so I can be myself and be expressive and get my point accross, like I am with friends and family.

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Have you considered going on a public speaking course that does voice and presentation training? Sometimes Universities run them for grad students, or perhaps you can request one.


Or trying out Toastmasters, or similar.


You don't say where you are.

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I think when you really need to speak, you will. The purpose for which you speak out for doesn't seem necessary.


For me, I had a "I don't care" thing haunting me since I was in my teenage year. But one thing I love to do is assessing others. So that motivates me to ask them questions because I want to hang around with ones that hold highest ethical standards by nature. They're the ones I look forward to giving assistance to.


So I'd say if you were to speak, don't just blab out anything for the sake of wanting to "speak out in class", but find something meaningful to you.


I'm not sure about other students, but I can always tell whether the questions asked in class is to 'show off', 'speak out to practice', 'genuinely curious', 'correcting', 'condemning' so on and so forth. Hence, going the genuinely curious way is an intelligent way to go about because there are people like me around sensing the questions.


As for normally, as long as you're aware, you will open more portals to talk about what others are aware of.

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