Life as an Introverted Teacher

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Crono91, Aug 11, 2014.

  1. Crono91

    Crono91 Rookie

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    Aug 11, 2014

    Question for all of you introverted teachers out there.

    How. Do. You. Do. It?

    I was researching it, and I found some book called Quiet, about introverted teachers, so I might check that out.

    I'm one of those people who is gravely introverted (not shy), but also with a deep passion to teach. I've routinely questioned if this is going to kill me in the in, and if I should switch majors, but every time I think about it, there's just nothing else I'd want to do, so yeah...

    I do want to differentiate introverted and shy. In high school, I worked as a grocery store cashier, and I was called out as one of their best employees, because I hustle, and I engage all of my customers--I tend to throw on an energetic and social persona at work.

    So I know I can do it as a teacher, too, but that doesn't mean it won't drains me.

    ---

    So, question to you introverted teachers: what do you do to keep yourself from burning out? Do you teach the class a little differently (I read about one teacher who meets one-on-one with each student once a week, which sounds amazing if it's possible).

    Do you plan specific alone time? Avoid staff lunches?

    Dish out your secrets, please! I know I'll need them in the future. :dizzy:
     
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  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Aug 11, 2014

    Hugs, Crono91. This is a question that's come up on A to Z at in various threads, among them http://forums.atozteacherstuff.com/showthread.php?t=180400, http://forums.atozteacherstuff.com/showthread.php?t=176298, and http://forums.atozteacherstuff.com/showthread.php?t=161897.

    Remarkably many very good teachers on this forum have noted that they are introverts. Some are more introverted around adults than around children; some, like you as a cashier, develop a persona to use when they're "on"; others run classrooms that are simply quieter, less high energy places (and many students thrive without incessant stimulation).

    What did you do to recharge when you were cashiering? That would be a good place to start looking for strategies that will work for you.
     
  4. Crono91

    Crono91 Rookie

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    Thank you so much for taking the time find those threads; I should have searched before hand.

    Well, as a cashier, when it got closer to the later hours, and it was slower, my manager would ask for volunteers to do "housekeeping." (Clean bathrooms, facing, sweeping, so on). Alone time right there... ironically, me being introverted and willing to do that is one of the reasons they thought highly of me. xD

    Don't think that can work as a teacher.
     
  5. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Aug 11, 2014

    I'm "on" all day at school, and then I come home and my house it completely quiet. Some days I don't even turn on the television or music. I just enjoy the quiet.

    I have to have my "recharge" time. This is my 22nd year. Must be working for me.
     
  6. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    This describes me perfectly! :blush:
     
  7. jteachette

    jteachette Comrade

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    I look at as if I were an actor.
    When I am at work, whether with the children, or in a meeting, I'm on stage. I act as if I'm not introverted. I talk to parents and the other staff as well as the children.
    When I'm not at work, I enjoy some time alone. That helps me to recharge.
    I also get to work earlier than most people so I can prepare for the day in relative quiet.

    After 30 years though, I don't need as much down time as I used to!:)
     
  8. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Wait, wait: I meant to be helpful, not to make you feel that you hadn't done your homework!

    (For the record, I searched with the term "introvert". Using "introversion" might produce even more results.)

    I think you probably CAN build some quiet times into your teaching day: let's see if we can get the community brainstorming about how.
     
  9. kaeco510

    kaeco510 Companion

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    I like to get to work 20-30 minutes before the majority of the staff gets there. It gives me time to have my morning tea, check my email, etc. in the peace and quiet.

    One way I have found to build quiet into the day is sometimes having the kids do a free-write warm up for the first 10-15 minutes of class. They either have a choice of prompts, or I let them have free choice.

    Also, sometimes when I am feeling overwhelmed or just talked out, I have lunch in my room by myself. The other teachers don't question it - I always just say I have a bunch of grading to do and they get it. I try not to make this a habit though!

    As others have said, I definitely have a persona for when I am teaching. When I get home in the afternoons, I am EXHAUSTED from being "on" all day. I usually have an hour or so of chill out/quiet time in the afternoons.

    I have found that the place I struggle with being an introvert the most is in meetings. I am an introverted processor, so basically I need to think things through in my mind in order to process things instead of talking them out like some people. So a lot of the time it takes me longer to come up with ideas / responses / etc. and it may seem like I am not actively participating in the meeting. This is something I am going to work on this upcoming school year.
     
  10. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Aug 12, 2014

    I turn on my teacher persona when I hit the doors of the school. It is on full force until lunch. At lunch, I unplug. I still eat with teachers, but they know I am likely going to be zoned out. (My first 2 years I ate with a group of teachers who would comment on my zoning out; they didn't understand ... the group I've eaten with for the last 8 years just accept I am likely not going to engage much over lunch, no big deal).

    After lunch, I ramp up again into teacher mode through the end of the day.

    When the day ends, I am drained. My drive home gives me some recharge time (about 15 minutes) and then I usually have an hour before my husband gets home. During this hour, I basically veg.

    I have had to tell my family to NOT call me until about 8pm. They know "I'm done" with people until then. (My husband is an introvert, too, so we have quiet evenings together).

    All of this being said, I LOVE teaching. And, people who ONLY know me as a teacher don't believe I'm an introvert. People who have never seen me teach have asked how it works with my personality.
     
  11. Froreal3

    Froreal3 Companion

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    I fully engage during my time at work. When I get home, I am pretty much in my room on the computer, relaxing. I also used to take naps and relax in my car at work during my lunch break. Coworkers always knew where I was. They thought it was funny. I felt really good and recharged after my "car breaks." I also used to get to work about 15 minutes early to relax before the kids and parents would start coming. Try getting to work slightly earlier. A 20 minute nap will do wonders!
     
  12. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Most of the people at school who be surprised by how different the "school me" and the "home me" are. At school, I am talkative, bubbly, and laugh (loudly) a lot. At home, I am quite quiet and would, if I could, go hours and hours without talking to anyone.

    I find times during the school day to be on my own to recharge--at recesses I tend to be in my classroom either on my own or with one or two close friends.

    I'm about halfway through Quiet; it's helping me to see my students through a different lens. My expectations of their oral participation have changed.
     
  13. WindyCityGal606

    WindyCityGal606 Enthusiast

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    This is such a great topic! I also turn it all on for school, afterall, students want an engaged teacher just like we want engaged students but when that dismissal bell rings, I'm back to being me. My family also knows that when I get home, I need to veg out which means, please no loud sounds, no emergencies that only I can solve, and no other demands. Also, do not speak my last name!!! ARgh!! Ms........ all day can get taxing! I love teaching. It's where I can be a totally different person. I push myself to go out of my comfort zone and I enjoy it. I guess it's my adrenaline!
     
  14. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    I could have written this post word for word, except this starts year 23 for me!

    My step daughter just started working part time at the drivers ed school where I teach the classroom component. She said I'm an entirely different person when I step in front of the class! She was shocked!
     
  15. LiterallyLisa

    LiterallyLisa Companion

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    I get up in front of my class and I am a different person. My coworkers and college friends have all said they were surprised when they seen me in action :p

    In order to "survive" I:
    -get to school early so I can do all of my erranding, copying, etc in peace and quiet.
    -close my door when I need to! I am one of the only teachers on my hall that does this--but I have to if I want to get things done and have my sanity
    -enjoy my lunch, even though I have to sit in a noisy middle school cafeteria and watch my students. The first couple weeks the teachers I sat with asked if I was okay. (this happens a lot to me as a quiet person) I just told them I was recharging. Eventually they understood. If I could sit by myself without people bothering me, I would. :p
    -assign silent reading time/writing time. This gives my voice a break and I might even sit in a chair for a second! It might only be 15 minutes, but it can get you through the rest of the day!

    I love teaching, and there is no other place I would rather be. I have to agree with Kaeco though I struggle in meetings.


     
  16. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I hate being around large groups of people. I do much better in smaller groups. Teaching is different to me though. They are kids and I know they are there for English class. I have no problems being outgoing in my teaching job. You may find you're the same way :)
     
  17. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    So much of what others have written is true for me. I get to school [excessively] early to work out and then prep alone in my classroom, occasionally eat lunch alone, and sometimes hit the bathroom just to have a few moments to myself (especially when I'm feeling "off"). Teaching is acting for me. I play a role that I don't exhibit anywhere else in my life. And that's ok because it helps me BE a teacher.

    One area of my school and personal life that has suffered due to my introversion is my [lack of a] social life. I have no energy to do anything other than sit at my computer after school. I don't go to extracurricular events (which I know is helpful for building relationships) and I don't have any friends. It's something to work on. But first things first: get through the school day! I hope you find some strategies that work for you. :)
     
  18. Crono91

    Crono91 Rookie

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    It's interesting how most of you have co-workers that don't entirely understand what being an introvert is like. I know it's hard for extroverts to understand, but I find my friends understand a little...

    It's also funny how good introverts are at "acting." That seems to be what all of you have posted. I remember in my public speaking course, my friends were shocked when I'd do my speech, because one moment I'm quiet and just listening, and the next I'm telling a store, having inflection and mannerisms, and using props as I act wholeheartedly interested in the topics I'm presenting.

    ---

    I like the idea of eating lunch alone. I don't know school politics, so I'm not sure why other teachers would look down on that; since I'm friendly with everyone, I'd hope they wouldn't think I was just avoiding all life (... well, I guess that IS what I'll be doing. Haha.)

    Also, getting there early sounds like great advice on many levels.

    ---

    Have any of you had trouble "acting" when you notice a kid or two that are disengaged or having a sour face? I notice emotions like they're bright colors, and sometimes they could throw my game off a little!
     
  19. Youngteacher226

    Youngteacher226 Enthusiast

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    I agree with most of what all the previous posters have mentioned. I have found ways over the years to get through the day and be "on" when I need to and "recharge" when I need to. I am one of those teachers who eat lunch by myself (((often))). I don't see anything wrong with that actually. There is no where in the "Rule Book of Teachers" that says you must eat lunch with your colleagues. It is your time and you should use it as you wish. I close my door on my lunch and on my prep most days and eat in quiet. My coworkers understood it was my personality and had nothing to do with them. Now when it is common planning time or time to work in groups etc. I am all in! I also gave my students Lunch With The Teacher days on Fridays which allowed them to come up and eat lunch in the room with me. I knew when Friday came, I would have to just tough it out, but I did it because I loved my students and I enjoyed being with them. Besides, they earned it! :) You just learn how to recharge during other times and in other ways. It's funny that sometimes, as I'm walking through the hallways, I'm finding a couple minutes to recharge then. Colleagues used to ask, "Hey, are you ok?" It used to drive me nuts because I was perfectly fine. But I must look as though I was in deep thought as I'm picking up my class etc. After explaining to them that I'm usually just in deep thought, they stopped asking. lol. In the classroom, while I'm interacting with my students, I am absolutely on! My class is known for being highly engaging. But when I get home, I take a quick nap every single day. Seriously. I take a daily nap after work but I need it in order to be "on" for my kids when they get home. That's my down time then I'm up cooking dinner, and it works! Don't worry, you will be fine. You will find ways to be the best you, you can be. All teacher do! Good luck.
     
  20. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I would play computer games at lunchtime. It helped me kind of zone out and provided great relaxation.
     
  21. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I also try to get out for a quick walk at lunch a few times a week.
     
  22. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    I also have a long commute - the hour each way is a great way for me to recharge. I've turned down requests to carpool because I NEED that time alone!
     
  23. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    I taught next door to an introvert-and my daughter has her this year-her classroom is a completely different world than others. I have never-NEVER-heard her students be loud, no matter their behavior outside her room. She just has this effect on kids, that makes them quiet. Her room is very peaceful and kind of...floaty...I don't know how to describe it. Just something comes over you when you walk in. She had it painted soft yellow and green tones, and it fits.

    I didn't realize I had introversion tendencies until I started teaching. I was really good at being "on" all day, but when I got home, I NEEDED quiet. No talking to others. Just time. With my own children being young, I had to wait until bedtime to get that, but I would always stay up later than everyone else just so I could have MY time.

    So I think you can train yourself to look forward to the time you'll get to yourself, eventually. If you need that to be lunch, then do it-don't worry about what others think. You can offer an explanation if you feel that is necessary, but you don't have to. It is what it is!
     
  24. missrebecca

    missrebecca Comrade

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    This is such a great thread!

    I'm introverted, and I knew it long before teaching, but this job has really helped me to be "on" for longer periods of time. :) It's not being in front of the classroom that's tiring, but the conversations that happen constantly all day long. I NEED that prep time and lunch to be alone and recharge.

    Last year was a huge struggle because I only had a prep maaaybe twice a week, and every other part of the day was with people. I sat with the other teachers at lunch because I wanted to build relationships, but found myself zoning out. Then I would feel tired while teaching the rest of the day. This year... no apologies for taking some much-needed ME time! :)
     
  25. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    I'm an introvert. First year teaching. I remember being exhausted as a student teacher. I would come home and take a nap before dinner, drag myself to the dinner table, and then go to bed. I didn't get to enjoy any of my diorite television shows or spend quality time with my family. Hopefully I'll learn a trick or two this year.
     
  26. brigidy

    brigidy Comrade

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    I am very introverted and it is difficult sometimes as a teacher. I agree with the others about teaching in front of the children. I will sometimes think "Showtime!" as they walk through the door. I am talkative, funny, always thinking of activities for them. However, I do eat lunch alone in my room, plus I almost have panic attacks before Open House, parent conferences, and staff meetings.
     
  27. Youngteacher226

    Youngteacher226 Enthusiast

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    Yes, I agree brigidy. I used to find myself very, very uncomfortable contemplating parent conference night, award assemblies (talking on stage), participating in group activities during PD sessions etc. I just learned things to do like putting a time limit on the amount of time I would meet with each parent. Some parents want to talk to you for 30 minutes! Then you have a line of parents outside of your door waiting and that just made me have even more anxiety. So I set a time limit of 7-10 minutes per parent and if we needed to have an additional conversation, then I was willing to meet with them before or after school the next day. That way I got parents in and out quickly and the conversations seemed more effective. I agree that, for me, carpooling is not an option. If I'm traveling with people somewhere, I would much rather drive my car alone and meet them there or follow behind. I find myself "recharging" quite often in my vehicle just listening to music and cruising along. My bedroom and my car are my two favorite places to be alone and gather my thoughts. I usually look forward to the moment after school when I unlock my car door and just get in!
     
  28. MzMooreTeaches

    MzMooreTeaches Cohort

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    Hi there! Kudos to you for posting this. Perhaps my case is different or similar to yours. I find that at work I tend to be more social, bubbly, excited, outgoing etc. But once I'm home I enjoy the quiet a lot more, alone time and only interact with friends on a small scale. When I initially started teaching 5 years ago I was a lot more shut off than I am now. While I'm shy with public speaking, this school year I spoke to 80 parents about kindergarten during screening. It's weird, I think of myself as an actress during these moments and I rise to the occasion.

    I tend to find moments to recharge throughout the school day. During lunch at least 3 days a week I go back to the room and eat. I also try to take a least one or two 5min bathroom breaks.

    In the kindergarten world I am very alive with my students. I have observed a teacher whose possibly an introvert an he reads a lot during breaks, works on his ipad, take notes etc. It hasn't been a problem for him or myself thus far. I guess as the saying goes get in where you fit in. If you feel comfortable go, if you feel uncomfortable don't go. Engage in interact with your peers where you see fit. Just try not to avoid to much!
     
  29. ktdclark

    ktdclark Comrade

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    I am also a closet introvert and CRAVE alone time...except I am extremely outgoing in the classroom.

    I work out HARD most days after school--this helps me quiet my mind except the music at my Crossfit place is super loud. But somehow it doesn't bother me when I am in the "zone" working my body.

    I also do not play any music or listen to music in my 20 minute car ride home. My 12 year old usually is doing homework as we drive so it is very silent.

    Also, walking my dogs nightly seems to appease my introversion.

    So that said, it is possible to be an introvert as a teacher--just got to figure out the moments that you need to recharge yourself:)
     
  30. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Teaching can/does burn me out- but at the same time, I can't imagine myself doing something different with my life.

    For my older students (5th and 6th graders), my lessons will include more independent work time where I don't necessarily have to be roaming around/working one-on-one with them. That helps me a lot to have just a minute or two to sit and not have to make any decisions/interact (give my brain a break).

    For my younger students (3rd and 4th graders), I'm constantly working with them, talking to them, interacting, questioning, guiding, and it is so very draining for me- but they are young and sweet and so that helps.

    Most of my free periods I stay in my classroom and on "bad" days I will turn off the lights and put my head down on my desk- it's in a corner where nobody can see me looking through the door. When I get home, I tend to stay in a lot and only really care to talk to my husband a bit when he gets home from work. I do mindless stuff on the computer and will check work email a few times in the evening until 8 pm- then it's close the computer, shower, prep for the next day, and be in bed reading by 9pm. The routine helps.

    My Mom took it really hard when I would screen her calls during the week. I had to explain to her that mentally I just couldn't deal with talking to another person after work- I love her dearly, but my brain just did not want to do anything thinking after work- I didn't want to make decisions, I didn't want to interact with one more person, and it wasn't because I was mad at anybody- it's just me. I think that helped her to get it but I know it still bothers her- which upsets me. :( But I know that I have to take care of myself too- we eventually found out that emailing each other about once every 2 days was better and she joined Facebook to keep up with what is going on with me.

    Sometimes you just have to fake the smile and be a professional- then let yourself unwind and shut off when you get home.
     
  31. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    I do this too! My husband- who is not an introvert- can't understand how I can drive without the radio on. I *LOVE* the silence!

    My in-laws live in Michigan and it's a 13+ hour drive to get there from Jersey- I can honestly drive the whole way in silence and not be bothered. Last April, my Mom made the drive with us (over night- my preference compared to driving during the day with a ton of trucks on the road)- I had already worked an 8-hour day and was going to do the bulk of the driving. My Mom thought she had to stay awake and talk to me the whole drive (she was worried I would fall asleep), but I told her I was fine (and I was!) and that she should try to sleep. Idk why people don't get "that" about me.
     
  32. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I had to laugh when reading about your mom, BioAngel. My mom came to visit for a couple of days early this summer; she arrived the day after school finished. I know that she wasn't very happy that I wasn't very talkative. For about a week after school ends I don't want to see or talk to anyone!
     
  33. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Like others have said, it's different with the kids.

    For me the worst moments are things like open house and conferences. I get really nervous with parents. Even if I run into a family at the grocery store, I will play our conversation over and over in my head, hoping that I didn't say anything stupid.

    I also feel like a party pooper sometimes at schools. During assemblies the speakers often ask for teacher volunteers, and I just want to climb inside my shell. Sometimes my principal will ask for volunteers ahead of time for a skit or something, and there is just no way I could do that!
     
  34. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    My new mother-in-law is VERY extroverted. I am very introverted. She really had a hard time getting used to the idea that just because I wasn't talking to her constantly (we spend a few days there when we visit as we live out of state) did not mean that I was upset or didn't like her. Oh, and the visits were over Christmas break and right at the beginning of summer--prime recharging time that I desperately needed!
     
  35. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    I'm exactly the same way.

    I must be getting more comfortable at my school because on the last day (last year) my faculty did a dance thing of "What did the Fox say?" and I decided I'd be one of the animals dancing about on stage. (TOTALLY NOT LIKE ME to do something like that) I picked to be the dog- turns out the dog went first. I was super nervous- practiced my dance steps like crazy- but in the end I had a bunch of fun with it :)
     
  36. Teacher Gii

    Teacher Gii Companion

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    Like others, I am glad to see this thread. I am an introvert as well. I "turn it on" when I am in certain situations, but for the most part I am a very quiet individual. I like to sit and observe most of the time, soaking up information to process.
     
  37. Teacher Gii

    Teacher Gii Companion

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    When do you do your lesson planning? At school? I was just curious because I would LOVE to have this routine when I am at home. Granted, you are probably way more experienced than I since this is my first year.
     
  38. MzMooreTeaches

    MzMooreTeaches Cohort

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    Aug 18, 2014

    I agree completely on the music in the car. My boyfriend is a DJ and CONSTANTLY Listens to music... on the inside I'm screaming and prefer to ride in silence. After talking and singing all day long its so nice to just hear nothing. Even at this present moment, the tv is off no music.. just me and the laptop!
     
  39. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Aug 21, 2014

    I will come in an hour early and sometimes stay an hour later. Those 2 extra hours help me to get more work done (I work better at school) and I'm not easily distracted by people popping in. I also will do lesson planning on Saturday since my husband normally works on that day and save Sunday for doing stuff with him.
     
  40. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Aug 26, 2014

    It's strange, but many teachers on this forum have commented on this very thing. The consensus seems to be that even though one is generally introverted the traits don't inhibit their teaching. In fact, some people become more engaged and show traits of extroversion while in the classroom. I am one of those people. I think it is because I am in my element in the classroom.

    Anyhow, you asked how we handle it without burning out. There is no one right answer. Some teachers naturally have a calm, quiet demeanor. Others work in quiet times when they can decompress. Some people eat lunch in their rooms and say they are working or studying. I often turned on quiet instrumental music while the kids worked because it kept everyone more focused and working quietly. I always make sure when I come home to have some time to myself without being bothered. In time you will find what works for you. Don't change majors/careers simply because you are introverted though. I found retail much more stressful.
     

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