We see a new wave of technology entering our classrooms called educational technology. There’s e-learning, learning technology, multimedia learning, virtual learning environments, m-learning. The point of the matter is, “What does all this mean for the introvert in the classroom?”
Introversion and me. Let’s get one thing straight. Shyness and introversion are two different things. Shyness describes how someone would deal with new and unfamiliar situations. Having a difficult time interacting with new people and new environments. At the opposite spectrum of being shy is outgoing. Introverts prefer recharging in solitude and feel overwhelmed with overstimulated social settings. Introverts are people who are tired of being with people, all the time. Often we mistake shyness and introversion for the same thing. Although some characteristics may overlap, they are essentially two different things- these ideas are not absolute.
For as long as I can remember, my tendency to keep to myself was always received with an “Are you shy?” remark. During parent-teacher interviews, my 7th grade teacher explained to my mother that I was a “quiet socialiser”. I dragged behind the negative annotations of being labelled “shy” throughout my school years. “So what IS wrong with being shy?” Nothing. But don’t call an introvert shy unless you want to rub them the wrong way. Today, I find that some of my unresolvable conflicts are due to the plain differences of introverts and extraverts. I only define these differences with the intention of explaining why introverts may be at an advantage in today’s classroom.
Golden Age for Introverts. Today, the classroom is being remodelled with flipped classroom models and Edtech tools. It could be the introverts time to shine! These online mediums become a bridge for the quiet participant. The point is to engage students but often times we end up forcing them to participate in uncomfortable environments. Why not create a collaborative environment for students and teachers to work together on tasks or discuss ideas. Uploading homework or answers to questions via classroom apps-may just turn your introvert into an online extravert.
Mix it up and have synchronous and asynchronous activities in the classroom. No, you can’t change a curriculum or every classroom in America to suit introverts. But you can mix it up with different activities that encourage both styles. Classrooms demonstrate many student-led or teacher-led group participation. But how about assigning your next project using alternate forms of knowledge representation.
Social Standards. Society seems to award the bold and outspoken with praise. Let’s start by admitting that we’ve set a social standard that being extraverted means “normal”. We see it everywhere, they dominate public life and social life and in turn, set the expectations. Personality tests like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator showed a ratio of Introverts at 50.7% and Extroverts at 49.3% in the USA. Just in case you thought that you fall into either of the two types defines you, think again. Ambiverts, who carry traits of both types, do exist! Introverts are just as talkative extraverts if they’re passionate about a topic and comfortable with their surroundings.
Technology. Not all forms of educational technology are alike. The use of technology is not going to help every introvert flourish. But there’s a point to be said about acknowledging these different types in our classrooms. At the end of the day, we just want everyone to succeed and be happy. Being more aware of these differences can create opportunities to help one another, teachers and students!