March 30, 2014

Teach like an INTROVERT

A talking stick. . . the perfect solution
for the introvert and extrovert in your classroom.
Everyone learns the value of speaking AND listening.
This is one that I made with some very special girlfriends,
we each added something meaningful the stick.
Some of us use them in our classrooms.  

This weekend was my birthday and I asked myself one question. . . what do I never get to do that would really make me happy. The answer was SIMPLE. It involved a list of activities only involved my closest family and a longer list of activities that involved spending time alone. Now this might weird to about 70% of you because that's about the percentage of extroverts in the world.  But to me time with family and time to reflect alone is absolute bliss that I don't experience that often being surrounded by 600 kids a week, being a full-time mom, and wanna-be full time photographer!!!! So my little moments be with just my own thoughts are cherished and few.

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?


Paintedpaper said...

Love this! Gotta say I can be an extrovert when needed but in reality I am a introvert. I really have notice I do not like noise. I like the art room to be a quiet place that helps others create. This is a great topic! :)

Unknown said...

Yes I feel like we all have both sides too! I definitely can be very extrovert at moments (especially when I'm performing, which is what part of teaching is. . .) but it's definitely a stretch most days! It's good to acknowledge both:) I agree.

Unknown said...

LoL I just reread this post and I read Buffet. . . and immediately thought Jimmy Buffet (that works too) but I meant Warren Buffet lol

Vicky Siegel said...

Great post!! There are others like me! I can be perfectly content at a work party talking to one person all night!

Hope Hunter Knight said...

I read somewhere that the big difference is how you build your energy - extroverts build their energy from being with others, while introverts need alone time to charge up. Makes perfect sense to me. As long as I have had the amount of alone time I need for reflecting, planning, reading, etc I am good to go and socialize or do group work. The end of a teaching day leaves me so drained! I also relate to the other introverts in my classes, and I give shout-outs to those who are always quietly on task and productive, because so often they get overlooked.
I recently posted about how I've been using Instagram a lot lately during my reflective time of day. It helps me focus on the accomplishments of the day when I may not have had time to enjoy them when they happened.

Unknown said...

great idea with instagram…
my problem is I have 0 time alone during the days I have to build quiet time/reflective time into some of my classes or I will be completely drained!

Mary said...

Love this post Erica! Being an introvert has helped me as a teacher. I find that I am very in tuned with the children by being a keen listener and observer. And as for the black clothes? Well, you got me there! My one new year's resolution was to wear more color.I'm happy to say, I'm making it happen. :)

Mrs. C said...

I really enjoyed reading this post! I am totally an introvert! I am every example you gave! I could totally hide away all day by myself creating or reading a book.

dmasse said...

great post. I'm alright in the classroom, but get me in a group of peers and I totally go quiet. NAEA was tough for me in that way this year, way out of my comfort zone. I can interact with all sorts of people online thru by blog, but when I meet them face to face, I'm sure I come off as awkward. I need time to process and digest. After an initial interaction it gets better for me and I'm much more relaxed.

Unknown said...

You are adorable. I am also an introvert and teaching art to children...which I was scared to death of doing (for obvious reasons). Like you said, there is something special introverts bring to teaching...I am happy to finally embrace it! Great post.

cassie stephens said...

This is awesome, I love this post so much. I really REALLY think that this would be a great NAEA presentation. You nailed it! I would spend most of my days alone if I could, I just love my "me" time. I kinda have to force myself to be social. But when I am...I'm REALLY social. However, if I didn't get my introvert time, I'd never talk to anyone. Seriously this was so good, going back to read again, thanks, Erica!!