It's tough to be an introvert in an extrovert world, especially in an extrovert's profession, like teaching. Through this blog, I'd like to share my own and others' reflections on being an introvert in the classroom. This isn't a place for misanthropes or grumps, though; I hope to thoughtfully discuss the challenges that introverts face in schools and celebrate the gifts that introverted teachers and students bring to the educational environment. If you can relate, please join me!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Finally, some recognition!

I'm happy to have a positive post, as I feel that lately I've spent a lot of time on here fending off attacks on things that introverts like.

I've now been to a professional development session in which introversion was mentioned as a valid learning style ("style" is the wrong word, probably, but I hope you get what I mean) that teachers should address. So, just as we should appeal to the traditional learning styles of auditory, visual, kinesthetic, we should consider introversion. It was an On Course workshop given at my college by their representative Elaine Zamora, who is also a community college teacher.

I think the only other time I've heard about introverts in a professional development setting was in a temperament exercise in the school of education when I got my teaching credential about 15 years ago. Often, if we hear about introverts in educational situations at all, we're glossed over--oh, those people know how to do stuff on their own so let's ignore them; or, oh, those are the readers who always do well in school anyway, so they don't need any attention; or, worse yet, those kids need to get with it and learn how to be more extroverted to succeed in our society.

To have my temperament validated in the same way that we try to validate other kinds of diversity--cultural, gender, religious--was a breath of fresh air!

The introvert-friendly activity we did at the workshop was simple, but had a big payoff. On Course calls it the "Silent Socratic Dialogue," which means that a student and partner each write on a prompt. Then, they exchange notebooks, read their partner's writing, write a question, exchange books again, answer the question, exchange books, read answer and write another question, etc. While we only took about five minutes each go-around to write our questions or answers, you could easily do this for longer. Even if you only did the five minutes, however, it's a lot more time than the introvert typically gets in an oral conversation where the rapid-fire back-and-forth takes seconds.

It was great to see that collaborative work need not be noisy and rushed.

And, as Elaine mentioned, sometimes in conversation we're so worried about coming up with a clever response that we don't really listen (this is an especially big problem for introverts, I think, and probably part of why they dread small talk). This silent dialoguing allowed us introverts to focus on our partner's words and take our time to reflect on our responses.