Can an Introvert Enjoy Teaching?

Discussion in 'General Education Archives' started by TeachwLove, Sep 3, 2006.

  1. TeachwLove

    TeachwLove Rookie

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    I am about to embark on a Masters in Teaching K-8, but I sometimes have doubts about how I'll handle being with my students for 30+ hours per day. In the past, I've taught College English (for 10 years) so I know I can teach, but the contact hours were fewer there. I've always loved school and teaching and dreamed for years of teaching K-8. I've saved my money and am now in a place to get my certification.

    My concern is that I am an introvert which means I like a slower pace than some people, don't speak well off the cuff, and feel more comfortable one-on-one rather than in groups. And yet I've heard some people say that "most teachers are introverts." I know this is part of my strength--that I naturally reflect on my lessons and make improvements to them. I also know that I can connect one-on-one with students which helps my group dynamic.

    On the downside, I don't like off-the-cuff public speaking or talking in front of groups, but for me, teaching my own class is different than that. I'm not lecturing, but rather involving and supporting the students. It's not exactly my comfort zone, but it is certainly do-able and is often fun.

    So...any introverted teachers out there? Do you like teaching? What are your challenges? Is it possible for an innie to be happy as a K-8 teacher?
     
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  3. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    "I like a slower pace than some people, don't speak well off the cuff, and feel more comfortable one-on-one rather than in groups."

    You just described me! :)

    I feel that I am doing a good job for my first year and have all the confidence in the world that in time I will be an excellent teacher. Again, the description of yourself could have easily been about me and I feel very comfortable in the classroom with my students and enjoy my time with them. Heck, most of the time I would rather be around children than adults.

    I think the only area that being an introvert is really noticable is with the other teachers. I am very much a private person and I think it sets me apart from the other teachers - but I don't worry about this because I am happy being the way I am. Now, if I was just dying to hang out with them and just didn't have the nerve, that would be problem. But again, I enjoy my alone time to plan, reflect, and just "be". :)
     
  4. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    I have always been very introverted. I LOVE teaching. The thing that is interesting is that I have become a bit more extroverted since becoming a teacher. Mostly I just talk to my class, which is fine, but there are times when you have to talk to groups of parents. I am comfortable doing that now, mostly because I feel confident of my knowledge and abilities as a teacher. The thing that was HARDEST for me was making parent phone calls. I used to avoid it if at all possible. It has gotten easier over the years.

    It sounds like you truly have a passion for teaching. Any job will have some things that push you out of your comfort zone. You might as well stretch yourself a bit doing something that you love.
     
  5. grade1teacher

    grade1teacher Companion

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    I always said that I loved kids but couldn't see myself getting up in front of a class to teach. Way too intimidating! So I went through a couple of stages, and started with a one - on - one situation - resource room. Very quickly I found myself moving out of my comfort zone, and absolutely loved taking over for teachers in primary grades in an emergency or as a sub when necessary - doesnt get more "off the cuff" than that! In short, I just got my Masters. I'm starting my first year in my own classroom as a first grade teacher on Tuesday, and I'm very excited! (and plenty nervous!). Basically, what I'm trying to say is that like the other posters mentioned, you'll find that your strengths will come in handy. You'll also find other parts challenging. But I can't think of anyone who doesn't need a little challenge in your job.
    Good Luck!! :)
     
  6. Terrence

    Terrence Comrade

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    I too am extremely introverted. I am a very shy and quiet person when it comes to adults. For some reason I act completely different when I am teaching. I think you will fit in just fine as a teacher. Good luck!
     
  7. NYSTeacher

    NYSTeacher Companion

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    Yes, I think an introvert can till teach. I am an introvert. I do better speaking in front of kids but give me a group of parents or peers and I can't do it. I'm more of a quiet person who just listens & takes it all in and speaks when I need to.
     
  8. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    I'm also an introvert. I tend to keep to myself in all areas of my life, and I've always been like that. I speak when I have to, and leave it at that.

    I'm so much of an introvert that people are very surprised when they hear that I'm a teacher. I've done fine, although I was a bit uncomfortable when I first started . . . just because they were all staring at me.
     
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Introverts- this term is often misunderstood- here's a description I found:
    Enjoy time alone
    Consider only deep relationships as friends
    Feel drained after outside activities, even if they were fun
    *Good listener
    *Appear calm and self-contained
    *Think then speak or act

    The above starred aspects are great characteristics for teachers to have.


    At Work

    Since you may not speak in meetings, write a memo to co-workers/boss afterward with your comments and suggestions
    Tell your boss you need to think before you can discuss your thoughts
    Say thank you if someone gives you a compliment
    Include yourself by coming early to meetings to help set up or clean up afterwards
    Say hello to people, smile and say thank you to presenters at the end of meetings
    Just remember lots of school climates call for collegiality, team teaching, cooperative planning- think of ways you can fit in climates such as these. I'm sure you have a lot to offer and your efforts could greatly benefit a school community


    Dealing with Introverted Children

    Explain introverted qualities to your child
    Never correct your child in front of others
    Let them watch before entering an activity
    Encourage breaks to recharge
    Realize they need time to think before responding to questions
     
  10. amyt682

    amyt682 Comrade

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    groups of kids and groups of adults are completly different things...i am not comfortable yet in our staff meetings, but i am totally comfortable in my class with my second graders...my aunt passed away on Monday and i told my kids on Tuesday...I havent even told the office yet that I will need a sub when her funeral happens because i'm just not comfortable with personal situations and other people...so i think you'll be okay teaching kids...it's completely different than adults...
     
  11. hojalata

    hojalata Comrade

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    This is such a great topic. I definitely consider myself introverted. Being "on" all day in my 2nd grade classroom completely drains me. It's like I'm going going going and then when it's done, I just crash. At the end of the day, I really feel like I just need time to myself. For this reason, I choose to take a lot of my work home with me to do there by myself. The other teachers stay and chat with eachother, somtimes until 8 or 9 at night! I'm try to be honest with them and just tell them I need some time off before I start thinking about school again, but I always hope they don't think I don't like them or that I'm just trying to skip out on work.

    It's also funny.... all the 2nd grade teachers each lunch together, and they all fight to talk over each other.... I rarely say anything unless they acutally ask me a question. It makes me incredibly uncomfortable talking over someone else. I can't ever recall saying something to a group at a meeting. Sometimes people can take this as me being apathetic or snotty, but I am always thinking. If someone asked me what I thought, I could tell them. Sometimes I'll try to shoot an e-mail to the principal or whoever afterwards with a quick comment just to show him I WAS thinking about the topic, even if I didn't say anything publically.

    Anyway, I think this is a great topic, and one that doesn't get much attention!
     
  12. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    It most certainly is possible to be a great introverted teacher. I think being introverted makes us more aware of the kids in our classes who may struggle with being shy,etc. I know that I have been complemented many times on my ability to reach and teach these kids.
     
  13. wunderwhy

    wunderwhy Comrade

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    I am an introvert as well. I confess that sometimes my stage-fright kicks in and a little voice in my head says, "OMG! What are you doing up there in the front of the room? This is crazy!" But most of the time I just get in teacher mode. I can even have extroverted moments where I get a high off of the interactions and exertions.

    I don't like back to school night or calling parents either, but I do the best I can. I always tell the kids not to announce that they are unprepared or don't give presentations very well (hey, we might never have noticed!), so I follow that advice as well. I just muddle through as best I can.
     
  14. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    I like this topic. I am very introverted. I am amazed and amused at the groups of teachers who have so much to say to one another. I am not overly interested in the personal lives of people and I don't care to share mine. I love teaching ... but I do not like to talk with the parents. That is something I have to force myself to do.
     
  15. adria

    adria Comrade

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    This topic is interesting and I must say a coincidence. I also consider myself to be shy, if I never read this post I would not believe that many teachers are shy. I think of teachers as being performers....lol

    I love my job...a shy person such as myself can do an excellent job of being a teacher. I must admit my first year of teaching was a challenge, I was shy and I wasn't as verbal with the parents. I must admit, I am better now....

    take care
     
  16. TexasAggie2323

    TexasAggie2323 Comrade

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    My wife says that teaching has helped me become less shy and more involved. I hate most people but love children and teaching. It is amazing, how my life has changed since teaching...you can hardly get me to shut up now.
     
  17. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    I find it so funny that so many teachers I know don't like being in front of groups of adults! I don't like it either. I consider myself more introverted than extroverted - mainly I am energized by alone time and drained by being around groups of people. I need some alone time at the end of the day!

    You can be a great teacher if you are an introvert! I too am amazed at the amount that extroverted teachers have to say! What I have found is that a listening and thinking person is so rare to find, and so refreshing. Sometimes the quantity of speech that flies around me makes me feel like I am going to run screaming from the building! haha! Seriously, we need more listeners and people who think before speaking. You will be a great teacher if you love kids, find them fascinating rather than a bother, have respect for them as small people, and get a thrill from seeing kids learn things.

    I really appreciate czacza's explanation of an introvert. As far as the speaking to parents and groups, prepare something ahead of time and it helps. Also, I decided my first year that I would not be giving a speech at open house, no matter what administration said. (We meet in our classrooms with parents.) I ask everyone to put on a name tag, they look at samples of our writing, science, and art that is on the children's desks, and I talk to parents one-on-one. I try to meet everyone that night and send a thank you note as follow up. I also sometimes have a handout describing what we will be doing in class, in lieu of a speech. After 10 years of teaching, I think I could do a speech, even off the cuff, but I still like meeting the parents one-on-one, and that is how I handle open house.
     
  18. Music Doc

    Music Doc Habitué

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    I think a lot of introverts (including me) create a "teacher personna" when we're in class and "on stage"........I had a friend who took the Meyers-Briggs Personality Indicator with me and was amazed when my descriptor came back as HIGHLY introverted, because in the classroom I'm exactly the opposite.
     
  19. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    Doc, I think I would come out also highly introverted as well. The thing is, I love acting, and was a performer in junior high and high school, yet, I found it very difficult when I was young to make friends because I was so shy. As a teacher, I think those acting skills come into play. Also, kids can be a lot less judgemental than our peers
     
  20. Music Doc

    Music Doc Habitué

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    I believe you is quite correct, Frizz!! ;)

    The grammar misuse was intentional, folks......
     
  21. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Introverted is different than shy. Introverts like to be alone but don't necessarily withdraw in social situations, which could be totally different from a shy person, who does not necessarily like to be alone but is very withdrawn around others.
     
  22. TeachwLove

    TeachwLove Rookie

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    Fear of Not Knowing the Subjects Well Enough?

    You guys are awesome and I love hearing from so many introverts! I feel affirmed in my own way of being in the world--and I feel more confident about my decision to teach K-8. Actually confidence is part of my issue. When I am talking, if I'm not sure of a fact, I tend to hesitate and qualify what I'm saying, thus losing the audience and making things more complicated than they are. Most often, I realize later that have I did have the fact straight, but if I'm not sure, I vocalize it in the moment. I've noticed that (some) extroverts just brazen their way through even if their facts aren't straight--and people believe them!

    It seems like you have to know a lot of facts to teach 5 subjects in elementary school. Of course the higher the grade, the more this is an issue. My certification program is K-8, and I want to teach 4th or below, but I've heard the districts can move you even after the school year has begun. Learning new subject matter seems like a lot on top of everything else you have to worry about when teaching. This has me wondering.

    Does anyone struggle with confidence in knowing the subject matter well enough? I mostly read people's thoughts about student behavior, and I wonder if knowing the subject matter well enough is an issue for anyone??
     
  23. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I love teaching, am very comfortable in front of a class, and am becoming more comfortable talking in front of groups of adults. That said, I am very introverted. I am happiest when I am alone (even though I love my children with all my heart) and able to "do my own thing". The "real me" is very different from the "teacher/public" me.
     
  24. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    I got over my fear of public speaking and of being around so many others, being judged, etc, by forcing myself to start presenting at a local science teachers' workshop that I went to and enjoyed. The first couple were really rough, but now, I do them all the time and teach teachers as well as students. That doesn't mean I can walk up to a group and start talking, I don't, but I feel more confident and able to speak up when spoken to. Give yourself the time and you will be fine!
     
  25. CanadianTeacher

    CanadianTeacher Groupie

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    I just found this topic. I am an introvert and I am shy. I had those same doubts about teaching before I started, but it hasn't seemed to interfere with my teaching. About fear of not knowing the subject....when I have to teach something I don't know, I always do my research and make sure I know it inside out before I teach it. You won't know everything and that's okay, no one does.
     
  26. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Here's something to try: Focus on learning the basic principles in the areas you're teaching - the fundamental driving principles on which everything else depends. These are, if you will, the tools of thought in that area. Then, when you're working on mastering new material in a particular subarea, try stopping and predicting what the next step is going to be, reasoning from the principles and from what you already know. Chances are pretty good, if you've learned the principles, you'll be able to come up with a prediction that may not be complete but will come acceptably close. When that happens, make note of it somehow - a tally mark somewhere, a marble in a jar, whatever - and reward yourself for making a good connection.
     
  27. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Also, none of us can know everything about a topic, even our subject area. I teach first, so I feel pretty confident I know at least what they know!! Sometimes a child will ask a question, or I will even bring up a question myself, and I am never afraid to say "I don't know the answer to that. Let's find out." or "I will study on that and try to find the answer tonight." or even, "Let's all go home and try to find out the answer tonight. Ask mom and dad for help. Let's see what we can all come up with." I have been known to drop the planned lesson to follow up on a question or thought I hadn't anticipated. I think that is good because my primary goal as a teacher is to get kids to question and seek answers. Of course I don't do this all the time! I discipline myself to stay with my plan as much as possible, or we would just be running all over the school painting murals and measuring teachers! (I'm very spontaneous!) :)
     
  28. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I don't have any pressing issues with behavior managment, parents, etc. Instead, my number one concern is the subject matter. I feel as though I have no business teaching language arts...but I do. My degree is in middle grades education (5-9) with my emphasis being english/communications and social studies. I student taught in social studies and enjoy history much more than I do language arts.

    Even so, I am doing the best I can. I read up on things before lessons and admit to not knowing something - and then we work together to discover the answer. This time next year I should be much more confident in teaching language arts. We'll see. :)
     
  29. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Language is complicated stuff. It's fairly possible to externalize history - to pick up a historical event by the scruff of its scrawny neck, so to speak, and look it over and catalogue the parts and work out how they function together. But when it comes to language, we're in the middle of it: "Whoever discovered water, it wasn't a fish." This might be why most of us learn more grammar in a foreign language class than we do in English.

    Let me recommend, JustMe, a couple of books by Karen Elizabeth Gordon: The Deluxe Transitive Vampire (an update of The Transitive Vampire), on parts of speech as you've never encountered them before, and The Well-Tempered Sentence.
     

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