California Educator

November / December 2016

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Page 47 of 59

How to Teach Introverts Create school settings where quieter kids can succeed, too By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin Photo by Scott Buschman W I T H S O M U C H emphasi s on c ol l ab oration , f lipp ed instruction and project- based learning, there's one group of students who may be overlooked in today's classroom. at would be introverts. While interactive classrooms may be fun, engaging and stimulating for many students, introverts can feel overwhelmed and unable to concentrate. Introverts living in an extroverted world have chal- lenges, notes Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. They may become invisible to others (including teachers) since they are usually listening and observing rather than talking. And they might appear to be shy, depressed, antisocial or not grasping the material, when in reality they just func- tion better in a quieter, low-key environment where they can work independently. A 2011 study found K-12 teachers rated quiet children as having the lowest academic abilities and the least intelligence, compared with children who were talkative. However, other studies show introverts perform better on tests, because they enjoy working alone. According to the Florida-based Center for Applications of Psychological Type, half of all Americans are introverts. Michael Godsey, an English teacher at Morro Bay High School, became aware of the needs of introverted students after observing classes at a neighboring high school. He recalls that nearly all of the 26 teachers he observed had students arranged in groups or sitting with partners. Some students spoke to him later about their need for quiet learning environments. Some described their love for silent sustained reading time; others shared that they appreciated quiet study hall sessions. Intrigued by what he heard, Godsey reached out to students who sat quietly in his own classroom for their insights. He also visited a public school for at-risk teens where students sat in traditional rows of desks with direct instruction. Some confided that they were thriving in this quieter environment, and that they could not function in the interactive classrooms at their former schools. Godsey, a San Luis Coastal Teachers Association mem- ber who is not an introvert, has written extensively on this topic for e Atlantic. He believes there are degrees of introversion, and environment and life events may impact introversion at various times. 46 teaching & learning

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