By Teachers, For Teachers
What does it mean to be an introverted student? It’s not that much different from being an introverted adult. An introverted student is a person who feels most comfortable in a quiet place. An introverted student would rather play by themselves or with one or two peers, while an extroverted student would be happy playing in a loud place with a lot of friends. Many introverted students are shy, and that’s why it’s common for people to mistake an introverted student for being a shy student. When you’re shy, you’re in fear of being judged. However, many students who are introverted are not shy, they just prefer to be somewhere that’s not so loud and with fewer people. Then you have your extroverted students who are shy, and once they overcome their shyness, you’ll see them shine in a group setting. With so many different variables, it’s essential that you get to know your students and really understand what they are feeling and what’s going on inside of their minds. Once you figure that out, then you will know how to use teaching strategies to best support your introverted students. Here are a few teaching strategies to ensure that your introverted students are feeling valued and supported in the classroom.
One of the best teaching strategies that you can use to support your introverted students is to give them time to answer after you ask a question. When you give them a few minutes instead of expecting an answer right away, you’re giving them time to think and gather their thoughts. This works really well with introverted students, because they won’t feel the pressure to talk right away when they don’t feel prepared. It’s also helps you deal with the extroverted students who are always raising their hands and blurting out an answer. If all of your students know that every time you ask a question they have 2-3 minutes to think, then everybody wins.
Another wonderful teaching strategy that will support your introverted students is to use multiple ways to engage students in their learning. The great thing about teaching in today’s classrooms is the variety of options that you have to engage students. As you know, all students learn best through different modalities, so while one student may thrive in a classroom presentation, another may thrive by articulating their thoughts in writing or through an online video. Introverted students especially may relish in choosing a more quiet mode of learning, while extroverted students would choose a more unreserved way of learning.
As you know, many introverted students prefer to be alone. To support these students, you can incorporate some alone time into your day. Try and build in time for students to read by themselves or work on their homework alone. By making this a part of your daily routine, you’re supporting your introverted students and making them feel more comfortable in your classroom.
Oftentimes, introverted students go unnoticed because they tend to be more reserved and prefer to stay quiet and like to be left alone. These students get less attention, which in turn makes them feel underappreciated. What teachers can do is play on the students’ strengths. Something as simple as a tap on the shoulder, making eye contact, or a smile can all show your introverted students that you see them and appreciate them.
One of the best things that you can do to support an introverted child is to constantly change up the way that you teach. When you offer a variety of learning options throughout the school day, you’re helping these children feel more at home. For example, if students are working in groups for one subject, you can have them work in pairs for the next subject, then follow that by working alone. You can even offer students a choice menu, where they get to choose how they learn best. Then your introverted students can gravitate towards what mode of learning they feel most comfortable doing.
Many teachers create their classroom so that everything will flow. However, when you’re designing your classroom layout, it’s important to keep in mind how your introverted students will thrive. While it’s great to have a communal area for students, it’s also wise to create a low-key space where students can go to get away if they need to. Being in a classroom with 20 or so students all day long can feel overwhelming to an introverted student. By creating a small getaway, you’re supporting your students who need a quieter space to think and reflect at different times throughout the day.
In order to fully support your introverted students, you must pay attention to them and learn more about who they are, and how they learn best. Once you do this, you’ll be able to give them the tools they need to succeed in your classroom.
How do you support your introverted students? Please share your teaching strategies in the comment section below, we’d love to hear your thoughts.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.