Teaching Strategies for Dealing with Students who Dominate Class Discussions

Does anyone have any comments?

Most teachers are happy to have some interaction in the classroom. When students are involved in the discussion it usually means that they are generally interested in the material and want to interact. This is usually a better situation than a classroom setting where the teacher does all of the talking. However, there are times when classroom involvement is less than ideal. If too many people get involved it can turn into chaos, which can quickly dissolve into a number of side conversations that must be quelled. In addition, there are times that a single person will dominate the discussion by constantly raising their hand or interjecting their viewpoints. Here are a few thoughts on how to deal with such a student in a classroom setting.

Someone besides…

There are times where this can be dealt with by simply saying, “Someone besides…have anything to add?” This is not a full-proof method as there may be hesitancy from the rest of the class to share. In addition, this should be done with some sensitivity so that the student does not feel that sharing is a bad thing. The teacher can be affirming of enthusiasm but in a positive way convey that someone else should share their viewpoints.

Calling on people

Sometimes a teacher may be forced to call on particular people and have them share their thoughts with the rest of the class. Granted, this should be done with some care because there are certainly students who absolutely dread being called on, particularly if they have nothing that they want to add to the discussion. If they are called on and they aren’t prepared, they can feel an extreme amount of pressure, which makes them all the more hesitant to share in the future. The teacher that knows their class well will call on people who they know are more comfortable sharing. This may potentially start a more balanced discussion with a variety of students involved.

Substitute teacher

There may be times when it is appropriate to bring a particular student or two up in front of the class. The teacher might ask them to actually faciliate the discussion. This gives the student an idea of what it feels like to be up in front of the class. In addition, it may cause the student to talk a bit less since they are now the moderator and not just a participant. While this sort of activity has to be carefully monitored so that it doesn’t get out of hand, it can be an alternative way to get talkative students involved and develop their leadership skills.

Small group discussions

Discussions amongst the whole class are appropriate sometimes, but there are other occasions where it may be helpful to break the class into small groups and have them discuss a topic. They can also be directed to elect a spokesperson who will report on the group’s conclusions. This is another way to get more people involved so that one person is not dominating the conversation. It can also be good practice for people to speak in front of the group and it may make them more comfortable doing it in the future.

Taking aside

There are times when the teacher has to take the student aside and convey to them that they should not dominate the class discussions. Again, teachers do want to encourages their students to participate and they should make sure that they do not squelch the enthusiasm of the student who may be in the early stages of future leadership. Rather, the teacher should take it as an opportunity to teach the student that should not only participate, but be aware of their surroundings and know that life is often about getting other people involved.


If the student understands this concept, they may actually help the teacher by encouraging other students to share their viewpoints in the classroom, which can add depth and richness to the learning experience for a variety of students. The challenge of the teacher is to encourage their students and to recognize when each student has particular talents. An effective teacher is one who can channel that energy and help the student hone their skills as they interact in the classroom with the teacher and with their fellow students.