I use the word “involved” rather than “engaged” because, many times, introverts are engaged, but not necessarily involved in the exact learning process that was intended by the teacher or required by evaluators. Sure, they are involved in their own learning, but the collaborative process may be lacking. Here are some things that I do or will do to promote everyone getting involved in the class learning especially introverts.

Sometimes, I find myself trying to lead my students into brainstorming ideas about a new math/science concept, then I come upon several students who contributed a single word in their group. The group seems to have no synergy (even when students are picking their own groups).

Regardless of my best attempts to create this synergistic atmosphere within the group, nothing seems to work. During my last evaluation, my evaluator noticed one group that were displaying these characteristics. This has led me to brainstorm ideas for how to promote a more collaborative experience for each group.

Knowing that the group has good ideas is a great place to start. This involves working in a small group with the students to gauge everyone’s abilities and then building some confidence about sharing those ideas out loud. Many times, the introverted students are the deep-thinking and creative students. Getting this to show in class is the challenge.

Here are some ideas that I have learned along the way of promoting these ideals.

Understanding Students
According to Susan Cain’s ideas on introverts, students not speaking up is tied to the energy level of the student. Some student feed off the energy of other students. They like the attention from others and it motivates them to speak up and share ideas. On the other hand, introverts do not feed off the energy of others. Motivating them does not come from interacting with others. Introverts are not necessarily shy; they just have a different motivation to speak up. Cain stresses that introverts can be social but only if they are getting enough self-thinking time. Furthermore, Cain states that loud and overly social experience can overwhelm introverts who prefer quieter settings for deep-thinking as well as closer friends compared to strangers.

To promote a positive environment for all, it is helpful to identify students that fit this mold and act accordingly. Also, given that we live in a world that is becoming more and more connected and synergistic, having conversations with introverts about this is a great teachable moment and differentiates accordingly.

Although, Cain does not state this, I believe that some students may become introverts with subjects they are not comfortable with. Understanding this about certain students can be used to better help them reach their optimized potential.

Be Careful About Groupings
I didn’t do this first semester (but will be doing this second semester), but asking students in a first day survey about whether or not they identify as an extrovert or an introvert can be important information. Possibly using a Likert to ask students where they feel they fit on the spectrum of introvert or extrovert. Once you have this information, you can create groups that can really maximize output.

Extroverts are necessary in any discussion. Their energy is infectious and can really get things going. However, dominating a conversation has the opposite effect on introverts. This can cause them to shut down and work less.

To be continued... when I have more time...
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