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Are you an introvert? Here's why you should be speaking up in class

Updated: Sep 26, 2019

Introverts are typically viewed as shy people who usually keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves. This broad, general type of behavior is the polar opposite of how extroverts act, which is when a person is more social and outgoing than not. The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung first coined and defined the terms back in 1913 and in the years, since many misconceptions surrounding introverts have arisen. The most prevalent belief, that’s wrong, is the misunderstanding that introverts are sad loners who shun society and have no friends. While some people certainly do fit in line with that stereotype, the majority of others are not hermits and instead live highly complex, active, and social lives. As society has rapidly shifted and changed over the years, the concepts and beliefs surrounding the whole idea-system of introversion have evolved right along with it. No one person fits exactly into the mold or definition of what it means to be an introvert. There are many different nuances and people often change as they grow and gain new experiences and perspectives on things. TYPES OF INTROVERTS All of the different introvert types have been broken down and categorized generally into the following six types; which do you think best describes you? 1. The Champion- They are very smart, unique, and has a vast intellect that helps them to create and invent. 2. The Artist- non-conformist and multi-talented with an eye for change and natural expression 3. The Mastermind- determined, strong and inspiring, while also very guarded and private 4. The Protector- emotionally complex, social, outgoing, kind and yet paradoxical 5. The Healer- understanding, spiritual, altruistic, calm and relaxed 6. The Architect- knowledgeable, hands on, intuitive, and enjoys teaching others. What type of introvert are you? let us know in the comments below. Tips for Teachers of Introverts: While we must respect the student's identity, this doesn’t mean introverts should never be challenged because they are "too quiet". Just as we expect extroverted students to engage in a time of quiet self-reflection, we also require introverted students to speak up in front of the class. Public speaking is a valuable life skill, uncomfortable as it might make certain students feel. That said, tailor your class participation time so that introverts and extroverts alike can thrive. Here are a few strategies to use: Allow students time to prepare, and even rehearse, what they want to say. Sometimes, it is not simply a matter of a student being shy or outgoing. Introverted students often need the chance to process their ideas and thoughts before expressing them to a group. Understand that Equity and Equality aren’t the same in class discussions. While I require all students to participate at some point, I give students the permission to decide the frequency and timing of participation. Start with partner or small group discussions before moving into a whole class discussion. This allows introverts to think through the ideas in a safe place before moving toward the whole group. Recognize that active listening (the kind that quiet students often engage in) is also a vital part of participation. I let students ease into participation. Many introverts need time to see what the group dynamics are before transitioning into discussion mode. This is why I avoid “ice breakers” at the beginning of the year. Most extroverts have broken the ice the minute they walked through the door, and many of the introverts are perfectly comfortable letting the ice melt slowly. I don’t usually require introverted students to speak up in class until the third or fourth week. I conference ahead of time with students who are anxious. I affirm their courage in speaking up and allow them to share their frustrations with the situation. I allow students to be uncomfortable. Even after I help students adapt, I may have some who resent speaking up. Then again, I may have students who hate silence. Nobody said learning was supposed to be comfortable. I let students decide when they want to speak up. I tell students, “I want you to say something in our discussion.” I let them know what the topic will be ahead of time. When they’re ready, they raise their hands to speak up. I give them an out. While participation is expected in my class, I will ultimately have a few students who simply refuse to talk in front of a group. I realize, though, that this is not an act of defiance. It is fear. I do what I can to make it safe for students to speak up. However, in the long run, I know that a student can only find his or her voice when motivated by desire and not compulsion. Ultimately, schools should be adapting the system to student identity rather than requiring students to change who they are to fit the system. By being flexible and providing accommodations, I have attempted to create in my classroom a safe place for introverts to speak up. It doesn’t always work perfectly, and it isn’t always comfortable. I hope, though, that my students feel affirmed in who they are while being challenged to grow

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