As a teacher, being an introvert can be tough in this profession that is geared to extroverts.
But first, what is an introvert and extrovert?
Let's play TRUE OR FALSE
An introvert doesn't leave their house, ever.
FALSE: That is a hermit.
An introvert feels most comfortable in black.
FALSE: That is Georgia O'Keeffe and that guy from SNL's Sprockets skit
An introvert feels drained with large amount of surface conversation.
TRUE: Mingling? What is that?
Noise with no sign of an end is the introverts nightmare.
TRUE: A new ring of hell that's all I'll say.
Extroverts feel "stuck" when they are talking to one person at a gathering.
TRUE: Can I get you a drink? A friend?
Extroverts feel energized by lots of noise.
TRUE: "The more the merrier."
Introverts would rather go out with one friend then ten.
TRUE: An introvert never said "the more the merrier."
Extroverts see the ONE person in the room enjoying their presentation.
TRUE: "I am totally rocking this, that one guy in the back thinks I'm great!"
Introverts see the ONE person in the room who rolls his eyes during their presentation.
TRUE: "I need to change course quick!"
Extroverts need time to reflect on their day.
FALSE: lol come on! That sounds like sticking toothpicks in my eyeballs. Isn't it Happy Hour?
So before you hang your head in shame INTROVERTS and watch a DARIA rerun . . . let me give you some hope! We are in good company! Some of the BEST teachers in my life have been introverts. Abe Lincoln, Einstein, Buffet, Ghandi, don't tell me that you have to be an extrovert to be an effective leader. When I realized finally that NOT BEING AN EXTROVERT is not a curse but a gift I immediately saw a change in my teaching.
How can an introvert be a good teacher???????? I always wondered the same thing.
1. We have an uncanny way to sense everyone's energy in the room, really quickly.
This is awesome when you learn not to take it on and just notice it. In the beginning this was the worst part about teaching. Everyone's energy was totally draining mine! I am not kidding when I tell you I would go home sit on my couch and feel like I was hit by a truck. Literally. Every day. Until I learned to block some of it.
2. An introvert doesn't always need to talk to get the students attention.
When I realized that talking didn't work for me, so many doors opened! Students will listen when I am still and counteract their chaos with calm? What an epiphany. Students engage when they see me interact slowly and deliberately with other students? Yes and they speak slower too!
3. We can totally understand the approximately 30% of kids who aren't being heard because they are introverts. Yes! Many of our students are not being heard, not because they are shy, but because they are listening, thinking and not willing to be the "loudest."
4. In a loud western world we can model an alternative pace. Sometimes the only thing our students know (both introvert and extrovert) is "go go go." School seems to be another place to go. We can teach our students to slow down and be more reflective. Whenever we have a conversation about our art, I can always pick out the extroverts and the introverts. The extroverts are raising their hands saying "when are we going to start art" and the introverts are participating in the conversation reflecting on the art. It is good to stretch the extrovert to listen and challenge the introvert to speak up.
5. Which brings me to 5! Listening is our NUMBER ONE advantage. While other's are talking, talking, talking, we are listening to what they are really saying. (Most of the time they are just saying I NEED ATTENTION;) This comes in handy when meeting with parents and students. Most of the time when I meet with parents and/or students about an issue I try to talk very little. This is easy for me as I hate to talk. This is great for them because they often feel heard and sometimes even come up with their own solutions to the given problem.
So now that I've totally given props to introverts, I need to say that EXTROVERTS are awesome. It's when we own our style and stretch when necessary to the other side that we become better people. I'm still working on it.
And here's my favorite part of the post . . .
How about you?
Are you a yoga loving, book reading, coffee house chilling introvert or are you a happy hour, karaoke queen extrovert (sorry for the generalizations:)? What is your teaching style?