Tell Us About Yourself: Sending an Introvert Into a Tailspin

Freaked out at the thought of having to introduce yourself to strangers?

 

Quiet Book Cover
Source: http://bit.ly/1wZT1oc

Several months ago I blogged about my BIG discovery {here}, after reading Susan Cain’s, Quiet: The Power of Introverts, last December.  What a great read!  In it, she discusses introverts in our society and society’s response to them.  She writes, “The bias against introversion leads to a colossal waste of talent, energy, and happiness.”

 

 

 

You can see her TED Talk here:

If you’re an introvert, you know she’s singing the gospel… Now, if everyone would just get quiet and listen….!! Right?

What was particularly enlightening to me ~ other than discovering I’m really an introvert camouflaged in an extrovert’s body ~ (light bulb moment!) was to learn why my instructional style is so challenging for some of my students…. You know, the ones who are also introverts, but not masquerading as an extrovert.

These guys and gals take quiet and attentive (qualities a teacher appreciates) to a much higher level, often edging closer to a referral for what appears to be open defiance because they will refuse to participate than have to talk with peers (and/or me).  Yes, it happens!  Maybe you were one of those kids? Maybe you’re raising one?  If so, might be helpful to give your kiddos’ teachers a little insight.  *Not taught in teacher-school.

Turns out, my collaborative classroom approach overwhelms introverted kiddos ~ as probably happens in many classrooms (fellow teacher-types, take note from this slow learner!).  This was a HUGE a-ha! moment for me… during my 20th year in the classroom.  As I read her book, I found myself saying, “That explains a LOT!”

When I reflected on how some of my classes are markedly different from others, it occurred to me:

Those classes that require me to cajole students to talk to one another and/or me {and they still refuse} are the classes in which introverts rule.  They are silently in control! 

When classes resumed after winter vacation last January, I was ready! Armed with this epiphany, I greeted my 2nd period class and told them what I finally understood. Poor kids.  They were visibly relieved. It was as if you could hear them whispering, “Finally, she gets us! Took her long enough!”  😉

HUGE difference between first and second semesters, as I gave my students latitude in how they would interact with their peers (and me), balancing the need to teach effective collaboration skills with giving students a ‘comfortable, safe’ learning environment that worked for everyone.

Electronic communication turned out to be a helpful way to get introverted students to interact.  Much has been written about the interface, including this article for Time by Cain. I have seen it first-hand, having students who didn’t utter a word for an entire semester, become involved in peer and student/teacher discussions when they could interact behind the safety of a keyboard.  Win-win!

Things were much calmer for me, too.  It was nice to have one class a day in which the kids weren’t swinging from the rafters a quiet disposition was expected and appreciated by my students. I didn’t have to be ‘on stage’ to get my point across.  Now if I could just get my other classes to try out this calmer, more focused presence….  Bliss, it would be pure bliss.

I’m kidding. It would be boring as all get-out!

*Interesting side note:  My ‘introverted’ class has been period 2 for three years running. Entirely different groups of kids from year to year, yet it’s consistently 2nd period.  Wonder why?   I smell an action research project lurking in the shadows…. 

Fast-forward eleven months.

Last week, I read a blog post from doc-turned-author Carrie Rubin {here} about her own embarrassing moment with introversion, and her advice for those of us who develop trainings or meetings for others.  As a presenter/PD facilitator/instructional literacy coach, I hadn’t ever considered how introverts might feel in my sessions. But once again, it sure explained a LOT about some participants’ sudden trips to the restroom or to ‘take a call’ when introductions begin.

According to Carrie, introverts are terrified to hear “Tell us about yourself…”  Wow!  This was an eye-opener for me… but makes perfect sense.  Now, when I’m plan sessions, I’ll remember to give participants a heads-up with plenty of ‘think time’ ~ to collect their thoughts and plan their words. Thanks, Carrie!

How about you?

Introvert? Extrovert?

Incognito??

Raising one (or two, or three ….)???

Innie or Outie? Quiet: The Power of Introverts {Great Reads}

Are you in introvert or an extrovert? Or are you both?

I’ve always considered myself an extrovert. Those who know me would agree.

I strike up conversations in public. I strike up conversations with teenagers I’ve never met, on my campus, nearly every day.  They sometimes (okay, often!) look at me like I’m crazy, but usually chat back and end up with a big smile.  In my family, we call it the “Mary Lee Legacy,” after my dear grandmother who’s never met a stranger in her life. She taught me well.  🙂

Loud.
Outgoing.
Convivial.
Socialable.
Gregarious.
Unrestrained.

All fit.

Other days, I don’t want to be bothered.

Quiet.
Aloof.
Serene.
Solitary.
Peaceful.
Reclusive.

These fit, too.

So how does one align these two apparently opposite ends of the spectrum?  Camouflage.  Masquerade.  Dance of the Peacock.  Call it what you will.

Quiet Book CoverAccording to Sara Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, many introverts often mask themselves (to some degree) as extroverts, in order to “fit” in a world that values extroverts’ contributions. Could this explain my over-the-top teaching, action-packed presenting, and talk-in-the-produce-section shopping?? Only if you combine those qualities with my deep wish to be ‘left the hell alone,’ thank-you-very-much.

Or maybe I really am more extroverted, but have discovered my introverted side as I’ve aged. Mellowed, maybe? I don’t know about the ‘mellow’ part. I’m pretty passionate about a lot of things… and not afraid to show it.  So what gives?

I’m not entirely sure, but what I do know is this: To be alone is to engage with my own thoughts. I like quiet time.  Lots of it!  My brain seems to go 24/7 and I need an outlet.

Writing provides the outlet. Reading, the catalyst.

How about you: Innie? Outie? Masquerading?  Or, are you sure about who you are??  ….   How do you know?