I Need a Minute: Teaching and Learning as Introverts in an Extroverted Culture

Small shifts can improve the social experiences of teaching and learning for all.

We are teachers, and teaching is a social profession; we spend all day interacting with students and adults alike. As teachers, we are expected to write lessons that provide opportunities for students to engage in group work and to frequently collaborate with other teachers. These expectations unintentionally value the perspectives and skills of extroverts, and they create unique challenges for introverts.

  • Am I allowing introverts enough time to independently think through their ideas throughout my session?
  • How am I fostering small (2–3 people) group interactions, rather than larger group interactions, so that the voices of the quieter participants are not drowned out?
  • Am I providing spaces for people to be alone and recharge if needed?
  • How can I reduce the cognitive load caused by my tendency to mentally multitask?
  • How can I advocate for individual time to think and reflect in this particular context?
  • What is my personal time limit for remaining fully engaged in group work?
  • To what extent does my classroom culture equate talking with learning and understanding?
  • How reactive is my classroom environment? Do introverted students have the personal space, personal time, and freedom from peer pressure to be creative in their thoughts?
  • How are roles in my classroom distributed between extroverted doers and introverted listeners? Does every student feel comfortable in or appropriately challenged by their role?
  • Do my instructional strategies give introverted students enough time to recharge their batteries and think independently between social interactions?
  • How can I prevent my introverted students’ good ideas from being drowned out during necessary group work or whole-class discussions?

Reference and Citation

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Knowles Teacher Initiative

Knowles Teacher Initiative

The Knowles Teacher Initiative supports the efforts of high school mathematics and science teachers to improve education in their classrooms and beyond​.