Every semester, I fall for it. To make myself feel better about going back to work after a vacation, I think, "Oh, well, it's only the first week. I don't have to really study or prep. It's mostly going over the syllabus and the writing process and adding or dropping people."
When I think that, my brain selectively forgets that I'm an introvert. All my new students will be strangers. I will have to chit-chat with them during icebreakers.
Some of these total strangers will appear to be mad or sad when I tell them I cannot add them. I will not know if they are sincere in the urgency of their requests. As a highly sensitive person, I will be troubled by this.
I will be on the spot constantly at the beginning. I have to set the tone by going through the administrative procedures sternly on the first day. When things loosen up a little, I will still be on the spot because even if I'm not giving direct instruction, I'll have to speed around the room, making sure everyone is on task because behavioral standards are set during the first few weeks.
It may sound crazy, because as soon as writing starts coming in, the grading starts, but I actually look forward to curling up with a cup of coffee and reading their "Your Personal Literary History" essays and their "Introduce Yourself" poems. I guess we could call those activities the introvert's favorite icebreakers-- the ones you do alone! And while the get-to-know-you activities in class do help me some, I find that I don't really learn their names until I have read their stories.
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!