Flyby Tries: Raising Hand in Lecture Every Day

By Sidni M. Frederick

With a looming and quietly intimidating professor at the front of the room, and what seems like every single student at Harvard crammed into a lecture hall behind you, talking in class can be daunting. This week for Flyby Tries, we decided to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone by raising our hand in lecture every single day.

Day 1: President’s Day - No class!

Day 2:

Janani: I didn’t have any lecture today, so I just made sure to raise my hand a few times in section. I normally have questions during section anyway, so nothing too out of the ordinary. The week wasn’t looking too bad.

Ellen: In a class that I wasn’t particularly interested in, it was tough to come up with questions, let alone raise my hand. I ended up just asking the professor to clarify a concept, and even though I thought I would come across as stupid, the professor was excited to go more in-depth and my friends were grateful for the clarification.

Day 3:

Janani: Okay, raising my hand in lecture was stressful. I had no idea what to say, but it turns out even if you raise your hand, you might not get called on because there’s just so many people in the room. But then I got called on in my afternoon Gen Ed lecture. I ended up asking what I thought were dumb questions — but hey, the professor spent a few minutes answering them, so they couldn’t have been that terrible.

Ellen: As a STEM concentrator, History classes are the place where I feel least confident, but because I seem to be a masochist, naturally I decided to raise my hand in my History lecture. I was less terrified than yesterday, but only marginally. I realized that because I was coming up with questions, I was thinking more critically about the lecture because I had to find things to challenge instead of going on Instagram during class.

Day 4:

Janani: HAHA, I have no Thursday class. Good luck Ellen.

Ellen: I’m jealous of Janani, but raising my hand felt more and more liberating the more often I did it. I mustered up the courage to raise my hand in LS1b, and it felt so freeing. Even in a big lecture class, I felt I had more confidence, no matter whether I thought my question was stupid or interesting.

Day 5:

Janani: My only classes on this day were sections, and I wanted to strike a balance between being vocal in class and avoiding being section kid. I made sure I was only raising my hand when I had a real question or answer. In my math section, I didn’t feel self-conscious and it was actually kind of fun to participate. I just answered a couple of my TF’s questions and got them right too. #flex.

Ellen: By the end of the week, I was comfortable with raising my hand in lecture, and unabashedly raised my hand in my organic chemistry class. I think the confidence from raising my hand has also made me feel more comfortable talking with my professors directly, and I’m starting to learn more as a result. A concept!

Final Thoughts:

Janani: Talking in lecture was definitely weird but actually kind of cool. It was nice to be able to steer the conversation in a room with hundreds of people. I think I walked out of this week more confident and less concerned with what my classmates thought. This was a great way to gently push myself out of my comfort zone — I’ll definitely speak up in lecture again. I realized that the worst case scenario was that I would say something and be wrong. But that isn’t so bad after all!

Ellen: While scary at first, I highly recommend everyone try this. It boosted my confidence so much and kept me engaged during class. I had to really think about the material and frame it as an argument in order to ask questions, and I stopped taking lecture as the complete truth verbatim. Because I stopped caring what others thought, I learned so much more and will definitely be less afraid to ask questions in the future!

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