We’re Quiet, Not Stupid! Helping Introverts Thrive At School
An introvert is someone who prefers calm, minimally stimulating environments. They are often misjudged by others as being shy, however, that isn’t always the case. Introverts are energized by quiet and solitude; stimuli comes from within, while Extroverts are energized by noise and company of people; stimuli comes from the environment. It’s important that we understand these differences in order to help all students achieve academic success, and that begins with communication. Parents, it’s important that you make the school aware of your child’s learning habits and individual needs. Educators, it’s your duty to recognize these distinctions and spend time getting to know your students on a deeper level, from the way they work to how they communicate. Creating a temperament-inclusive classroom that values deep listening, reflective pauses and different methods of engagement takes time. Here are several strategies to consider:
From Huffington Post:
- Create a quiet zone. Allow a place for students to sit alone, read, do a puzzle, etc. to re-energize.
- Encourage interests. Contrary to popular belief, introverts tend to really speak up when they have the opportunity to share their interests. Find what interests them and get them talking about it.
- Teach ALL kids to think first before answering. The kids who tend to answer a question immediately will easily overpower the introvert. If everyone were taught to wait and think, the introvert might be able to formulate her thoughts and have a chance.
- Use the buddy system. Pairing like-minded kids with similar interests and personalities helps introverted students find their voice.
- Standardize introversion. Introversion is not abnormal, or something to be “fixed.” It is simply a preference, and people can learn to work with them.
- Keep introverted students in your radar. While you don’t want to neglect the “gifted” kids, realize that introverts can be gifted in their own way. Don’t ignore the quiet ones.
- Hands-on tasks. Jobs can give introverts a sense of outward purpose outside of instructional time.
- Set ground rules for Collaborative Learning such as:
- Take turns to speak
- Listen sympathetically
- Accept comments as they are: no put-downs
- Prioritize success over individual friendships
- Focus on the driving questions
- Know your role and hold each other accountable
- Put introverts in small groups first, then work toward larger groups.
- Place emphasis on progression from good intrapersonal (self) skills to interpersonal (other) skills.
- Set clear learning objectives in advance of the lesson.
- Give people space and time to think before starting the task.
- Gradually increase intensity of discussion: from a non-threatening poll, to simple questioning, to an invitation to express views more deeply.
Never assume quiet is weak and loud is strong. Before commanding your students to speak up, or come out of their shell, keep in mind that silence isn’t empty. It can be full of so many answers.