Tag Archives: teachers

Teaching Introverts and Shy Students

When I was in school, I was not only an introvert, but also quite shy. I was the very quiet kid who didn’t like speaking in front of the class. Reading reports in front of my classmates was one of the worst things I could’ve been asked to do.

A lot of teachers say it’s a good thing to get kids to speak in front of class like that. Did it help me? Did it allow me to “come out of my shell” a bit? Not at all. Each time was terrifying and didn’t make things any better. That’s not to say it doesn’t help others, but in my case, I didn’t get over my shyness until I was in my 20s and had a job involving talking to strangers over the phone. My confidence developed because of that, and soon after, I was promoted to Team Leader, which is a supervisory role. I was then talking in front of groups of people doing project briefings. And now, I teach. I’m always in front of people talking to them. I don’t get nervous about it. I’m confident in my lessons. My shyness went away, but my introversion remains.

What’s the difference? Shyness is a personality trait that leads to social anxiety. There’s a fear of speaking to people, being the centre of attention, and a strong desire to just get away from everyone. Eye contact is difficult, using a louder voice is nearly impossible, and sweating is often profuse while having to speak to or meet new people. This is something that can be changed, but people shouldn’t be forced to change. That can cause an even stronger social anxiety.

Introverts have an actual physical difference in their brains than extroverts. The brains of many individuals have been examined, and it was determined that introverts have more than a personality difference, it’s physical. They’re likely born that way. Introverts gain energy by being alone. They spend energy while being in social situations. A party is tiring, but that doesn’t mean an introvert doesn’t enjoy parties. They may like them in moderation. I personally don’t like parties, unless it’s only good friends or people I like. I’d prefer not to be overstimulated by a lot of strangers coming to me for some small talk. Small talk is something introverts find tiring and pointless. We want to talk, but we want to talk about deep subjects, not shallow small talk. This reluctance to speak to strangers seems to appear like shyness, but it isn’t. And also, introverts tend to take their time to answer. That hesitation isn’t shyness, it’s just that the answers are being well thought out. Introverts like precise and effective communication. They want to get to the point, cut out the unnecessary details, but be very thorough about giving all of the important information. They are excellent communicators when they need to be, can be excellent leaders and decision-makers, and are great judges of character. One of my abilities is to adapt to different personality types. I find it remarkably easy to get along with just about everyone. Not everyone sees my true personality, but I learn about others’ personalities and adjust my outward “personality” accordingly. It’s like I’m a chameleon.

When teaching introverts and shy people, it can be a bit different. I understand both introverted and shy students. For adults, they tend to be more in control of their shyness and introverted tendencies.  Kids have a lot more trouble with it, though.

For shy kids, they don’t want to talk. They’re quiet, they notoriously difficult to get to say anything, and they rarely talk to their classmates. They often look down or look around at anything but other people. Patience is important for the teacher, but also finding a way to build the student’s confidence.  Confidence is the main issue with shy kids.

For introverted kids, they are not necessarily shy, but are also often quiet, especially in larger groups. Get an introvert in a small two or one student class, and they are more likely to talk rather than listen. There’s hesitation when they answer. This isn’t shyness. This isn’t nerves. This is just them formulating their answer in full before they answer. They’re perfectly capable of having fun with other kids, but they’re also likely to be more serious. Although, I have had introverted kids laughing a lot, while extroverted ones are incredibly serious, but very talkative.

I think in both cases, patience on the teacher’s part is important. For shy students, take time to get them to feel more confident. They’ll likely feel better as they get to know other students, but are likely to shy away from speaking in front of large groups. Introverts need time to answer, because they want to have a thoughtful and precise answer. Speaking in front of a large class may not be a problem in their case, but it is draining if they have to do very social activities.

In my case, being both an introvert and a shy student, I had the misfortune of being afraid to speak out in class. However, I felt more comfortable in small groups of about three or four people, and I would offer my thoughts, and often take a bit of a leadership role.

So, teachers, if you aren’t an introvert, and you don’t fully understand what it’s like to be an introvert, please try to understand that forcing them into an extrovert mould is likely to backfire. It’s not in their nature to behave like an extrovert. Speeches in front of class aren’t exactly helpful. Group work is better.

This post is in response to an article that appeared in the Huffington Post.

Teachers, introverts, and anyone else, what are your thoughts on this subject? Let me know in the comments below.

Dear Teacher

It’s that time of year. The kids go back to school. I thought I’d share a post made by Eric, aka stomperdad. He’s a parent who understands what teachers go through.

All In A Dad's Work

Dear Teacher,

Today is your first day of school, again. Though, I know today really isn’t your first day. You have been at inservices enhancing your teaching methods. Those inservices, which use up your precious classroom time. A time you use to get your classrooms in order. Figure out your desk arrangement and where to sit your new, eager learners even though you nothing about them. A time you use to decorate your walls, bulletin boards and chalk boards. This, I know, is no easy feat. But you’re creative, you’ll have no trouble. Your walls and boards will be adorned with bright colors and all things educational. Regardless of the all meetings and inservices, your classroom will be open, ready, and eager for new learners.

Those inservices that use up your precious planning time. You get very little of it in a normal day. So little, in fact, that you…

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But That’s Not My Name

My name is not very common. Jay Dee Archer.  Well, there is an American who’s been in trouble with the law, but I think his name is hyphenated.  But aside from him, I don’t think you’ll find anyone with the same name as me.

It seems everyone gets my name wrong when they first meet me.  In elementary school, I always had to correct the teacher. It’s not Jay, it’s Jay Dee. This continued all through junior high school and high school.

Then I come to Japan. I’ve been called Dee Jay, Joy, Jamie, Joy Dee, you name it.  Many thought Dee was my last name.  As a foreigner in Japan, it’s also not easy to convey the pronunciation of my name to others.  Typed out in Japanese, it’s アーチャー ジェイディー, or Archer Jay Dee.  But today, I went to get my annual health checkup done, and they had my name as アーチャー ジェイビー, or Archer Jay Bee. They kept calling me Jay Bee.

But I guess my name is unique enough to attract some attention. Think it’s good for an author’s name? Or do I need a pen name?

Does anyone get your name wrong?

The Value of a Teacher

In my opinion, teachers should be paid more. They work longer hours than most people. They’re responsible for the education of children who will grow up to contribute to society. They need to be prepared. Teachers aren’t appreciated enough. They used to be valued by everyone. Now, they’re underappreciated.

When my daughter goes to school, I will thank the teachers and give them respect. They deserve it.

All In A Dad's Work

Our school year has 10 extra day built into it to accommodate for snow days. Teachers are paid by salary so they make the same amount whether those snow days are used or not. As of this writing, we have used 8 of those 10 allotted days and school boards are scrambling trying to decide if those missed days need to be made up. If they decide yes, then they need to figure out how.

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