Thursday, May 12, 2016

Teachers: We can be Introverts as Well!

Most people who have known me for a while will probably think that I'm an extrovert. But that's not the truth. I'm definitely an introvert and exhibit all the signs that one would expect: shy in new situations, I don't like crowds (or small talk) and I enjoy (and need to) spend time by myself to recharge and decompress.

Every now and then, I see another article about introverted people and how others can understand us more. The one thing that has always stuck in my mind was that while extroverts get their energy from interactions with others, introverts spend a lot of energy when interacting with others. This is definitely something that happens with me. As a teacher, this can present a lot of challenges (I have 26 students who take LOADS of energy out of me on a daily basis).

I recently found this article, by John Spencer, Re-imagining School for Introverted Teachers. The articles shares several ways in which schools can support those of us who are introverts. I do find it hard when school leaders or managers ask me to go to the staff room. Often, my dislike for that trip is misunderstood. I need lots of time to recharge and spending time with adults in my 10 or 20 minutes of break. That recharge time makes me a better teacher.

My introvertedness also affects how I can best deal with students. There is tons of talk about finding the best way that students learn, but rarely do people talk about the best way for teachers to teach. We are all different and should be allowed to show our strengths in the classroom. I'm personally trying to find that balance between what's best for everyone (a lot of MLE/ILE spaces can help with this, though unfortunately, we are in a limited space for a few more weeks).

There are also a lot of issues around nervousness (I've been called a worry wart several times, but different principals) and a lot of times my motives are questioned. I often feel that I'm put on the spot and not allowed to explore things. This creates a lot of stress and makes it harder for me to be effective.

So what do I do with all this knowledge (that I'm not alone). Well, it gives me a way to start discussing the issues with leadership and to explain what works best for me. I'm hopeful that given this perspective, it might help others support me in a way that allows me to grow.

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