On Being an Introvert in Education

The Misunderstood Introvert

An introvert in educationFor the longest time, I considered myself an extrovert. It wasn’t really that I loved being around people all the time, although I certainly don’t mind a group of people. I just didn’t think I was an introvert. Introverts were people who didn’t like being around other people. They were shy and quiet. I am none of those things.

Years later, I came to understand that it was more about where the energy came from. Extroverts get their energy from being around others while introverts get their energy from being alone. I definitely get my energy from being alone, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy being around other people.

The Realization

Several years ago, my husband and son were going to an out-of-town baseball tournament while I stayed behind to take care of the dogs. He surprised me when he made the comment, “We’ll get out of your hair shortly. I know how much you love being by yourself.” He wasn’t wrong, and I was a little embarrassed that I was doing such a poor job of hiding my excitement to have the house to myself for several days. Several days alone meant a lot silence while I read my books. It was pure Heaven. Obviously, I love my husband and son, but the thought of spending some days in silence had me very excited.

Being an Introvert In Education

It probably comes as no surprise that being an introvert in the classroom is very draining. It is a job that I absolutely love, but I am so tired at the end of the day that I have very little energy to cook, clean, grade, or just about anything that deals with thinking and moving. What makes teaching different from other jobs? Very few jobs have you “on” one hundred percent of the time.

Busy classroomTeachers are pulled in different directions every class period. If you have children, think about your children when they were little. I think about my sister who currently has an almost three-year-old and a one-year old. She is pulled in many different directions between the two of them. She sometimes has to ask my mother to watch the kids so she can take a nap.

Now put that into a classroom setting where the kids are older, but there are twenty-five to thirty of them all needing your undivided attention. Several of them have ADD or ADHD and struggle to stay quiet during instruction. Some of them have IEPs so you have to make sure there are multiple modes of delivery for your instruction. Some of them are super quiet so you want to make sure you make sure they are okay. Because of the stats on mental health and teens, you know that one in every five of your students could suffer from a mental illness. You know that there are several students who have home lives that are not great and school is the last thing on their minds. Other students are doing their typical teenage chatter and talking with their friends in the classroom.

And this is what we deal with every day. After all of this, there is still the teaching portion of the job to deal with such as creating excitement in class while reading a book that the kids have no wish to read. (I might add that these are the same books were taught when my mom was in school.) The job requires an actor, and many teachers are great actors. We are excited about everything, including the fourth in-class essay or the 700-page book that we’re going to spend an entire quarter reading.

Tired teacherAt the end of the day, an introvert like me has no energy. With a planning period loaded with planning, grading, meeting with students, sending emails, and making copies along with a thirty-minute lunch before racing to the next class, the day is a whirlwind from beginning to end. There is no time to recharge.

Do I love what I do? Of course! It’s amazing. Just don’t ask me to do something in a large group after school! 😉



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