Teaching & Being an Introvert isn’t a Contradiction – A Comment

Pounding the Pavements of my hometown
Pounding the pavements of my hometown

Just read a great post by Paul Read “Quiet is the New Loud – Introvert Teachers”

I really identify with this post and the questions he poses. And not just because he also likes to spend “recharging time” by walking alone and taking pictures of his surroundings. A teacher after my own heart!

Read examines the following question:

“So, if I am such an introvert, why the hell am I a teacher?  Isn’t that like an extrovert choosing a job in a secluded lighthouse?  It seems like it must be some kind of hair-shirt or penance, rather than a thing one would voluntarily choose”.

It’s actually a very complex question. I personally find that teaching does not contradict being an introvert. The act of teaching itself is, as Read says, meaningful. Teaching is a fascinating interaction between the students, the material and  me, the teacher. There are many ways to foster this interaction and I don’t believe there is much of a connection between being an extrovert/introvert to the success of the interaction.

Taking a quiet moment in the school yard
Taking a quiet moment in the school yard

That being said, I must ask, do I feel that way because I have managed to be in a teaching situation that suits me?  Was my own decision to go into Special Education and to teach in the format of a learning center,  influenced by the fact that I’m more comfortable in a small group situation and in one-on-one interactions? Many of my colleagues teach in classes of almost 40 students. My only experience of this was teaching  three courses of adults in classes. I kept trying to individualize their learning and reach out to every single one. Unsurprisingly, I ended up exhausted.

In addition, Read talks about being in a situation of “Rolling Admission”. I teach the same students all year. In fact, I teach the students for three to four years! Again, something I believe suits my temperament.

Nonetheless, we’ve all had wonderful teachers who were introverts. In all kinds of teaching contexts. So perhaps it’s not just me that doesn’t find that the trait and the profession contradict each other.

Note: I have read Susan Cain’s book on introverts. There are some very valid points there which I agree with completely, but the book is far too long (and very focused on business). I find Read’s post far more thought-provoking.


One thought on “Teaching & Being an Introvert isn’t a Contradiction – A Comment”

  1. I am sure we gravitate to the place where we feel most comfortable and effective. I have never been able to teach large groups well, and certainly not young kids.Any jobs offered to me under middle school age I would be a complete failure.I have recently discovered that highly motivated adults in small groups is wonderful and I don’t mind if I have a large turnover.I have also discovered that I love teaching online and building a one on one rapport with people all over the world.It is fascinating to chat to someone in St Petersburg,and then someone in France and then someone in Italy.I find that very exciting.Good that you found your place and are comfortable there.

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