How Students Can Overcome the Awkwardness of Asking For Help

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At times I sit down to wonder, why do students refuse to ask for help even when they are clearly in need? I had this same issue when I was in school – rather than raise my hand to ask questions in the class, I would prefer to wait and see if someone else would ask and if not, I just let it go. This started affecting my learning. I started having problems, especially in math class. So as time went on, I concluded that if I am not comfortable asking questions in class, I’d rather go to the lecturers’ office to see him or her. And this helped a lot.

Many other students face this same problem as mine. They get uncomfortable when it comes to asking questions in the classroom. But as they grow older, they become more comfortable when asking for help.

Why are some students afraid to ask for assistance or help?

For various reasons, many students are reluctant to seek assistance. Students are always concerned about how they appear to their peers and do not want to appear “dumb.” Many students are embarrassed by their inability to understand a concept or believe that asking questions about a particular topic will irritate the teacher.

But how can we help students overcome these fears?

Encourage Students to Ask for Help Using These Techniques

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  • Make Your Students Involved in Learning

It is a known fact that students that find it difficult to ask for help are either shy or anxious of how their peers might see them. Do not assume that the quiet students are fine being by themselves, that this is their choice and they don’t want to problem solve or communicate with you. Make your classroom a secure environment! You can ensure every student is involved in the learning by making it interactive. This makes the students feel more at ease.

  • Seek out the Struggling Students

Seek out and approach the struggling student. Remember that he or she really does want to engage with you but is prevented by anxiety and/or doesn’t know how to initiate communication around asking for help. Even if the student appears unapproachable, approach anyway! These students and clients don’t choose for this to be so difficult for them and they don’t intend to send this negative message to others.

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  • Share Past Experiences

An experience they say is the best teacher. Sharing personal examples is an excellent way to help students become more comfortable with seeking assistance. It is reassuring for students to know that even teachers have sought assistance in the past. You can share examples from your childhood or even adult life.

  • Introduce Alternative Methods of Requesting Help

If some of your students are still not comfortable with asking their questions in the class, you can introduce other methods that can help. Examples of alternative methods like having them come to meet you in the staff room during their break time, and sending you an email after the class. If you have a student that is uncomfortable with raising his/her hand to ask for help in front of the class, you can introduce the use of notes – where questions are written on a paper and passed to you.

Image Credit: Psychology Today

Teachers can encourage a growth mindset in students by normalizing asking for help. No one is an island of knowledge hence why asking for help is no crime. Teachers can help in bringing an important change. They can create an environment where asking for help is similar to doing an easy task.

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