Are You Making Space For Your Introverted Students?
Susan Cain’s best selling non-fiction book ‘Quiet,’ took the world by storm when it was released back in 2012. For the first time, a seemingly successful business leader (at the time Cain was in corporate law) was speaking positively about introversion, and highlighting how society, and schooling, fail to accommodate introverted personality types.
This led teaching veteran and director of education, Heidi Kasevich, to develop the ‘Quiet Schools Network,’ to make space for introverted students in the classroom. Unfortunately, classrooms have long been tailored towards extroverted students alone, with teachers traditionally trained to encourage on-the-spot participation and cooperative working environments. And, it’s going to take a lot to change that.
The trouble is that, as Cain outlines, there’s clear evidence that these methods of learning not only fail to engage introverted minds but actually hinder their ability to engage due to overstimulation. Unfortunately, removing these classroom staples altogether will have the same detrimental impact on socially thriving extroverts.
All of this has left teachers wondering how exactly they can provide a positive classroom culture for all personality types, and many are finding some success using the following techniques.
Quiet Learning Spaces
Large group desks and cooperative working spaces have long been classroom staples. Unfortunately, just as we’re learning that open-plan office spaces significantly hinder introverted performance, so too do these open classroom setups. That’s because introverts are far more easily overstimulated in social settings, leading to overloads that can altogether stop learning in its tracks.
Teachers can, however, overcome this by dedicating quiet learning spaces. In some instances, setting aside a quiet reading corner or separate quiet room for students who feel they need it can work wonders. In extreme cases, teachers may even find that encouraging increased home learning using edtech products like those developed by Age of Learning can help even the quietest students to develop their lesson understanding in their own space.
Either way, ensuring that introverts can learn away from the rest of your students is the best way to help them thrive.
Tools To Encourage Balance
Teachers are also taking active steps to find a balance that enables introverted learning without hindering extroverts. Some fantastic techniques are coming to the fore, including two simple techniques, which are often underused are:
- Think-pair-share where teachers avoid on-the-spot participation and instead encourage children to take the time to think about a question before pairing with one other child to discuss their thoughts, and finally sharing those by-now well-formed thoughts with the class.
- Chip-led group work where children working in mixed groups are given chips to represent the ideas they wish to share. Once extroverted children have used their chips, introverts are given an uncontested space to share their ideas without having to shout to be heard.
There is, of course, still a long way to go, but the fact that teachers are thinking about such alternatives at all spells incredibly good news for a future where students of all personality types and capabilities are given the space, and voice, that they need to thrive.