I’ve insisted on having some quiet time built into my day for as long as I can remember. I’d drop the class off at P.E. and retreat to my classroom, breathing a deep sigh and reveling in the silence. I always built down-time into our daily schedule, following up an intense period of direct instruction with silent reading, independent work, or other student-directed activities, gratefully taking a few minutes to regroup.
It didn’t occur to me until recently that I wasn’t seeking quiet, but alone time to recharge. I am an introvert.
Viral articles like 23 Signs You’re Secretly an Introvert and 27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand (NSFW warning on that one) ring completely true for me. And looking back, this explains so much about aspects of teaching that I enjoy the most. Being introverted is the reason why I’d rather plan lessons than teach them, create materials than implement them, design the Open House presentation for parents than give it, talk one-on-one with my students than address the whole group. For me, being in the spotlight is draining. I can only enjoy it if I have an equal or greater amount of time to be off-stage and retreat a bit into my inner world.
The idea of a teacher introvert sounds really strange, perhaps even paradoxical. But being introverted does NOT mean you don’t like people or enjoy their company. Put simply, introverts need time alone so they can enjoy being around people. Extroverts need time with people so they can enjoy being alone.
I wish I’d understood more about introversion and extroversion when I was still in the classroom. Not only would I have been able to take care of my own needs better, I would have been much more thoughtful about the way I interacted with the “quiet kids.” How quick we are to label children as shy, when often they’re just introverts!
How do you meet the needs of introverted kids in your classroom? If you are an introverted teacher, would you share your experience (struggles or successes) with us? How do you balance your own need for solitude with the demands of running a classroom?