California Educator

November / December 2016

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Page 48 of 59

Have technology and the new California standards changed schools to favor extroverted students? There's clearly been a transition from a teacher- centered pedagogy that often focuses on a specific subject or text, to student- centered engagement that pri- oritizes collaboration, social networking, speaking and listening skills, and so on. Just as lectures, tests and silent reading probably favored introverted students, these latest trends — if applied thought- lessly — surely favor the extroverts. What are misconceptions teachers may have about introverted students? People in general often describe introverts with words like antisocial, guarded, loner, aloof or unfriendly, when introverts are simply energized by quiet space, introspection and deep relation- ships. And while it's convenient and efficient to refer to people as introverts and extroverts, the two personality types are extreme poles on a contin- uum. We all move around that spectrum to some degree. Are introversion and shyness the same? Not at all. I agree with Susan Cain that shyness is about a fear of social judgment, while introversion is about a response to stimulation, particularly social stimulation. It's a little frustrat- ing to see the two conflated so often, because we should be nurturing a confident growth mindset in each child (thus decreasing their shyness), while remaining attentive to the dangers of social burnout. Do schools look at introversion in stu- dents as something that needs to be overcome? If so, is that a mistake? There's an undeniable trend toward teamwork, group seating, networking, collaboration, and so on. These are all good things, but I wonder how often the child who gets tired and wants to quietly read appears antisocial. And I think that a class that's reading or listening quietly is now often described as "unengaged." For introverts, that's often exactly when they are most profoundly engaged. One college dean proudly announced that his school's "active learning" classrooms break students out of their comfort zones. What is that called — a pedagogy of discomfort? What a strange philoso- phy to proclaim. Can teachers teach to both introverts and extroverts? Absolutely. We have to. We're all more introverted or extroverted on different days or in different situations. To some degree, we can all use some quiet time to recharge. And at the same time, 90 consecutive minutes of reading (or test-taking) is going to deeply aggravate the extroverted part of every student. Do teachers sometimes unwittingly pressure quiet students into partici- pation that can be traumatizing? I've unwittingly pressured students. How one encourages students to come out of their shell goes back to the difference between shyness and introversion: Rather than abruptly bringing them into the conversation, a teacher can focus on giving introverted students a chance to quietly prepare their responses, which will help with both their confidence and the quality of their answers. Does helping introverted students thrive sometimes mean reining in extroverted students? I can't tell you how many blogs and articles I've read from introverts going crazy because a teacher continually favors quick answers and immediate and enthusiastic participation. Many are simply asking for a little time to think or write down their answers rather than just shouting them out. But again, we all have varying needs for both stimulation and reflection, so the idea is to allow for both without consistently reining anybody in. What can educators do to help introverted students? We asked educator and introvert expert Michael Godsey for his thoughts. Five Tips How to help introverted students succeed in class: 1 Allow them a chance to thoughtfully prepare their responses. 2 Allow them a chance to reflect on their learning before immediately applying it. 3 Recognize that some appreciate direct instruction occasionally. 4 Structure group dynamics so that extroverted students don't dominate (everyone gets 30 seconds to speak, for example). 5 Create opportunities for participation beyond discussions or games. For example, collaboration on a shared document, or a more thoughtful role in a group. 47 November / December 2016 "PEOPLE OFTEN DESCRIBE INTROVERTS WITH WORDS LIKE ANTISOCIAL, LONER, ALOOF OR UNFRIENDLY, WHEN INTROVERTS ARE SIMPLY ENERGIZED BY QUIET SPACE, INTROSPECTION AND DEEP RELATIONSHIPS."

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