Can introverts be teachers?
Teaching is rewarding, but it can also be exhausting! This is especially true if you are an introverted teacher.
Since teaching is an extremely social profession, one would think that all teachers are extroverts. Wrong!
Introverted teachers are represented and many of us are thriving. Believe it or not, you can too.
In fact, you can not only survive as an introverted teacher, but you can thrive.
For a very long time, I didn’t understand why I found the career I loved so much incredibly exhausting.
Then again, I really didn’t understand myself. It wasn’t until one day my husband described me as an introverted extrovert.
Is that even a thing?
I mean, I love people and I especially love my students. In fact, I can be loud and crazy. That is why so many of my students do love me.
However, I do love a peaceful low-stimulus environment. If I am honest, I quite enjoy my own company too.
There are days that I can just lock myself in a room and be content with just me, myself, and I.
And then there are those days when I have to mentally prepare myself to tackle my teaching day.
Yet, I’ve enjoyed a long career as a teacher despite the many days that I had to mentally prepare myself before my day and isolate myself after.
I really got to thinking one day about why my career looked a little different than a former coworker friend.
She quit teaching about 3 years in. She was for sure an introvert. Unlike me, she was a straight introvert.
Nevertheless, the field of education lost a wonderful teacher and an even better person.
Tips to Help Introverted Teachers to Thrive
Do introverted teachers have lasting careers?
I have often thought that if my friend had known what to expect or if she could have somehow prepared herself for a career that seemly didn’t lend itself to those who are introverted, maybe things would have been different.
She is my inspiration for this post and others like her. So, if you are an introvert or love one that is in the teaching profession, maybe this can help.
After reflecting on my career and how I managed to survive, I’ve come up with ten things for those in the teaching profession, who are often drained by it.
In order to thrive, introverted teachers should:
- Think of teaching as a performance.
- Create a claiming environment.
- Lunch alone.
- Shut the door while doing your prep.
- Find your one.
- Engage in an activity that reenergizes you after work.
- Get on social media.
- Volunteer for solo projects.
- Conduct student conferences often.
- Don’t call your parents if you can help it.
Think of teaching as a performance.
I have often thought of myself as a performer, putting on my extrovert teacher face every day.
Better yet, you can think of it as your alter ego. At home you are Zero, but at work, in front of your students, you are Mrs./Mr. Zero, the Hero.
When I think back on some of my better teachers they were for sure theatrical.
I don’t know if they intentionally put on a “show,” but they for sure capture my attention. Sometimes they were a bit annoying, but I remember them and I learned.
So, I become an extrovert just in my classroom.
“Hello and welcome to the Art Show! Starring Mrs. Zero, the Hero. We have showing at 8:45 a.m.; 9:45 a.m. and 10:45 a.m…(every hour until lunch at 1 p.m.) The Art of Learning.
Today’s episode, First-Grade Glue Sticks- How to Open, Twist, Use Gently, and Not Lose the Cap!
Let’s get started!”
You might say that that sounds exhausting. Exactly! It does, but I prepare myself for it. I practice performing and I know what the end will bring.
It’s better than walking into it not knowing or acting as if it’s not going to be exhausting anyway. Performance or not, most days I am exhausted.
For me, changing my perspective on a role I view as “outgoing” helped me to plan for the exhaustion that often came anyway.
However, no worries, a little further down this post I have a few solutions to recharge before the 2nd half of the day.
Create a claiming environment.
You have so much control here. I wish I understood this earlier in my career.
Teachers work hard at making their room visually stimulating why not add the goal of making it calming too?
I am not just talking about easy listening to music here but creating a whole vibe.
I wish I could take credit for this example, but I can’t. However, I certainly learned from it.
One year, a new young teacher turned her room into a coffee shop.
She strung lights across the ceiling had a hot chocolate station, and encourage students to bring their mugs and donate packs of hot chocolate.
Once a week or so and dependent on her students’ behavior, they got to sip on hot chocolate as they worked.
I hardly ever heard any craziness from her students.
Flex sitting changed the game too. She had different types of sitting arrangements for the students and for herself.
She had a zero-gravity chair. It was nothing to walk down the hall and find her students working quietly in a dimly lit room drinking or not drinking hot chocolate.
Sometimes she would quietly work with students in small groups or one-on-one. Other times she would be in her zero-gravity chair modeling silent reading.
What I’ve come to realize is that not only do I need this type of quiet, calm environment as an introverted teacher, but my students needed it too.
If you are fortunate enough to have a duty-free lunch, take advantage of it.
Eat lunch by yourself. That’s right! Eat lunch in your room with the lights off and the door locked or in your car if you have to.
You don’t have to feel obligated to eat in the teacher’s lounge. However, introverted teacher or not, my recommendation is for every teacher to avoid the teacher’s lounge.
It can sometimes be unproductive. LOL!
If you can manage to eat and take a 15-minute nap or meditate that is even better.
This time will give you an opportunity to rest and recharge from your morning “performance” and rebuild your social battery to tackle the last part of your school day.
Shut the door during teacher planning.
If your lunch isn’t enough time to recharge, try your planning.
Sure, this may mean more work at home, but I’ll take it if I really need to decompress.
But be careful here, especially if you nap. Luckily for me, my admin never really bothered us on our planning unless we had some meetings.
Find your one non-introverted teacher.
Who is your one? For every introverted teacher, there is an extrovert just waiting to be their friend.
Are there any extroverted teachers you can forge a relationship with who are always in the know? But, you got to be able to tolerate them.
If you are successful in finding an extroverted teacher friend who can fill you in on all the information and some of the drama (LOL) you will always be in the know.
Then you can more easily pull away from doing your lunch and prep and still feel confident that you are aware of what’s going on around school.
Engage in an activity that reenergizes you after work.
One of the best ways to ensure you have a thriving teaching career is to be intentional about engaging in some type of activity that reenergizes once your workday is done.
This is essential for those of you who have families waiting on you at home.
One of the biggest complaints I hear from teachers in general, much less introverted teachers, make is that they are so exhausted by the end of the day that they don’t have enough energy to engage their own child or significant other.
I recommend going for a run and listening to your favorite music or podcast as you do.
This can be done at your school as part of your regular routine.
We said this before, but I am here for the naps. You can take an end-of-day nap before going home. Again, this can be done at school and as part of your daily routine.
If you have a long commute this could be the perfect time to decompress by blasting your music in the car to clear your head.
If loud music isn’t your thing then maybe some easy-listening music or meditation.
What you do isn’t as important as actually being intentional about doing something before engaging with your family.
Remember, they should get the best of you. And the only way you can give your best is to be at your best. So recharge that introverted teacher’s brain before being in their presence after a long day of work.
Get on social media, you introverted teacher!
Community is important! Although you like being alone and I get it. You need to be in relation with other teachers.
You still need to be challenged on your thoughts and pushed to refine your craft of teaching.
Social media gives me the best of both worlds. I have teacher friends all over.
I’ve met them on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram. The Facebook groups are awesome.
That is how I get some of my ideas to write about. Other times, I am sharing best practices or someone is sharing them with me. It’s a win/win!
Volunteer for solo projects.
Working in a school you are bound to get asked to do something or be on some committee, by your principal too.
You don’t want to look like you are not a team player. So, be the first to volunteer for things you don’t have to work with others or a lot of others on.
Be the one that works on the website and does graphic work. Working in Canva will have you looking like a pro even when you are not.
In this way, you are doing your part and you get to be indispensable to the school while working independently.
Conduct student conferences often.
Meeting with students individually benefits my students as much as it benefits me.
I try to meet one-on-one with my students as often as I can. Being a special education teacher makes it a little easier. But you can too for at least once a week.
I keep direct instruction short and do a lot of one-on-one student meetings.
My students feel seen and this helps with relationship building.
I also get to see where they are struggling or where they are getting it.
Doing this, it helps to cut down on behavior issues which means less stress for me.
Don’t call parents if you can help it.
Apparently, introverted teachers are “terrified by the idea of having to make a phone call to parents according to Board Teachers.
I read an article over there that cracked me up about introverted teachers. They nailed it with the comedy, stating…
Introverted teachers hate when parents write notes saying to give them a call. We turn on “Eye of the Tiger” to work up enough nerve to dial the phone, and then pray the parent doesn’t pick it up.
Should I be a teacher if I’m an introvert?
Introverted teachers usually need more alone time and get exhausted from a lot of socialization, but we still can make amazing teachers.
In fact, I believe there are many benefits to being an introverted teacher and so many ways we make a positive impact on the field of education.
Being an introverted teacher gives you advantages in connecting with introverted students, a group that is often overlooked.
I can empathize. Because I understand when they may need their space, when it’s ok to call on them in class and when they are feeling uncomfortable when working in groups.
I feel introverted teachers have the ability to build stronger relationships with students because we do better with one on one socializing and tend to skip the small talk for deeper discussions.
Moreover, sometimes students appreciate the fact that some teachers are not loud.
No matter what, know that you have what it takes to thrive in your education career.
Being a teacher can help bring out some extroverted characteristics in you and your social stamina will increase a little over time.
Can A Introverted Teacher Make Good Leaders
I may be a little bias, but I totally believe that introverted teachers can make great leaders.
I prove that while working in public school for almost 10 years and further proved it by starting my own school and teaching other teachers how they can do the same.
I thrived in both environments. However, more so in my school, Triumph Academy. I had more control here and it made all the world of difference.
Final Word For The Thriving Introverted Teacher
If you are thinking about being a teacher, join the club. If you are already an introverted teacher, I hope you have a wonderful career.
With the way teacher shortages are impacting schools all over the US, we can’t afford to lose great teachers.
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