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!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

When the content is hard...

...introverts might need to lecture it first.

It strikes me that when I'm teaching something new or a piece of literature that's complex or very in-depth, I feel like I need to lecture about it (or do a teacher-led whole-class discussion) a few times before I'm comfortable with group work. I learn best in a focused manner, and a focused way of teaching helps me master the material. As they say, you don't really learn something until you have to teach it to someone else. Once I'm comfortable that I won't forget my main points or get confused, I'm more comfortable opening things up to group work in which things happen more helter-skelter and out of order and during which time I can't be with everyone at once. Now, this probably wouldn't be a problem for an extrovert teacher who learns by interacting with others. It may help him/her master new material by diving at it from different angles, moving from group to group. So, an extrovert teacher might be able to start with group work right out of the gate. But an introvert may take awhile to work into a more student-centered style of teaching.

Teacher-centered is almost always presented as bad. I would ask that those who evaluate beginning teachers to consider whether or not those teachers are introverts and rather than label a new teacher who lectures as a bad teacher, help support them in the transition. Teaching is notorious for expecting new teachers to have the same load and the same expertise as older teachers. Let's modify our expectations.

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