By Lesley Vos
Introverts seem more vulnerable to burnout and collaborative overload, and some educators cite this peculiarity of their character as a reason to quit working in a learning environment.
Last year, The Atlantic told about teachers who left the profession because of their introversion. Some couldn’t handle social interaction, and others lost the battle with exhaustion.
Jessica Honard, ex-teacher and author of Introversion in the Classroom: How to Avoid Burnout and Encourage Success says that “it’s a constant bombardment of social stimulation, and most teachers simply are not taught how to cope with it.”
But, does that mean you can’t be a good teacher if you are an introvert?
That’s not so! As John Spencer said, “I’m a better teacher not in spite of being an introvert, but because of it.”
When used right, the character traits of introverts can help teachers rule the education world. And one can find at least ten reasons why introverted educators may even have an advantage over extroverted teachers.
The first six reasons come from Lauren Elrick of Ramussen College—her article Why Introverted Teachers Actually Have an Edge in Education dots the i’s once and for all.
Daily interaction with colleagues and students is draining for most introverted teachers, which makes them conscious about meeting new people and finding a work-life balance to empower their lives. Such cautiousness makes these introverted educators more sensible when working with shy or fearful kids and meeting parents.
2) Animus toward increased attention
Introverts don’t enjoy being the center of attention, so they never treat the classroom as a stage. Such teachers show consideration for colleagues and students, accomplishing their objectives by discretely influencing others.
In other words, introverted educators know how to work behind the scenes. They encourage students and involve them in learning. As Cathy Pickens, creativity consultant and former teacher, says, they allow students to “discover information rather than memorize it.”
Some criticize introverts for over-analyzing decisions, but this capacity can benefit the education process greater: it helps teachers avoid impulsive mistakes and behavior.
Introverted teachers would never let themselves walk into the classroom unprepared. They are considered, thoughtful, and calculated in everything they do. They think first, speak afterward.
Introverts are serious about taking their mistakes. Thanks to such self-reflective mindset, introverted teachers are open to considerable feedback, review their performance at work, and eliminate errors to grow and develop skills. Needless to say, such philosophy serves to benefit students.
5) Ability to listen
Introverted teachers are good listeners, which allows them to create an effective learning environment in the classroom. They listen to students, colleagues, and parents; and they have a higher level of student engagement by encouraging the atmosphere of understanding and communication.
Math tutor and author of MC2 blog, Hugh Beaulac explains that introverts “absorb knowledge” by listening to people, while extroverts use conversations as a “stage to promote themselves.” This trait allows introverted educators to respond more thoughtfully and influence critical thinking skills of their students.
Introverts are deeply involved with what they do, and that’s why the demands of the teaching job are never an issue. Because of the nature of their character, introverted teachers don’t have an active social life (as a rule), so they don’t consider it a problem to spend time on lessons plans, homework, research, etc.
Thanks to greater self-awareness, introverts can be more sensitive to their environments. Introverted teachers understand when students need help, and they’re ready to support and take care.
Introverted teachers are attentive to detail, which helps them make valuable observations and provide a unique perspective in the learning environment. They encourage students to accept challenges and solve creative tasks.
It sounds counterintuitive, but the research proves introverts are better leaders delivering better results at work. This is the case of introverted teachers, as well. Rather than promoting the loudest initiatives, they’re flexible and more likely to let talented students run with ideas.
Introverts may be more open to creative solutions because they’re not heavily influenced by what others do. They’re comfortable with spending time alone, which is a critical ingredient for creativity. A so-called solitude allows introverted teachers to brainstorm ideas for a better learning environment and plan interesting lessons for students.
Children of Gen Z demands a different approach, and they are hard to motivate and surprise. The creativity of introverted educators can help a lot here.
So it all adds up to this:
Jessica Honard is right in saying the education world needs introverted teachers. They can be a role model for students who face burnout in a culture of collaboration, and they can teach much more than hard skills on the subject.