Classroom Practices

Introverted Students in Your Class: Don’t Overlook Them

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There are many types of students you might find in a classroom. Carl Jung, a psychiatrist and psychotherapist, established several psychological concepts, including introversion and extroversion. According to Jung, introverts’ energy is directed inwards, whereas extroverts direct their energy outwards. What else do we know about these types?

Introverted students tend to enjoy solitude and concentrate on their thoughts. Their imaginations are rich, so they don’t tend to experience loneliness. Extroverts prefer being in the thick of the action. Outside factors motivate students to action and they like socializing. They tend to be confident even in unfamiliar settings. Extroverts always seek attention and suffer when they have to be alone. By contrast, reflection is what introverts like. Extroverts stay positive while introverts are more apt to focus on negative things. A human being can be only of one type – either an extrovert or an introvert.

Introverted Students in the Class

A lot of prejudices exist around introverts. Many say introverts cannot collaborate. They are unsociable. Or better yet, something’s wrong with their psyche. Nonsense! Introverts are just like other students in the class. And you must do everything possible to provide everybody with a friendly and comfortable environment.  

Your class undoubtedly consists of both types – both introverts and extroverts. Your task as a teacher is to define whether the student is extroverted or introverted. It will normally be rather obvious. And what’s more, you need to be able to tell the difference between introverted and unmotivated kids, which is going to be a bit harder to do.

How to Involve Introverted Students

Teachers usually try to engage students in discussion, though such an approach does not suit every student in the class. Teachers must assess participation, but just because some students stay silent doesn’t mean they have nothing to say. Introverts prefer individual work to group studying. They are better in writing assignments than discussions. They observe and absorb information rather than produce it, and they tend to like research. You know that different students work in their own manner, so what should you do?

First of all, you have to learn more about your students – who they are and what motivates them. Only then can you choose the methods that are suitable for all students in the class. Don’t try to change introverts. Instead, try to do everything possible to encourage them to work. And please don’t try to get introverts out of their comfort zone. It’s up to them to leave it or not. If and when they do, be attentive to them.

A research paper Dealing with Introverted Students gives a common view on introverts in the classroom and suggests helpful recommendations on how to deal with this type of student. After having analyzed them, pay attention to the following super-easy and practical tips:

  1. Try to talk to each student in person, so that you can better understand his or her interests. This knowledge will be extremely valuable for your further work in the class.
  2. Don’t let overactive students be the only ones who share their ideas.
  3. After you’ve asked students a question, give them enough time to think everything over and make some notes. Sometimes it takes them a bit more time to put their ideas in order and answer the question.
  4. Let introverted students know that you’ll ask them a question in advance, so that it won’t be stressful for them to answer on the spot. Or ask students to answer your questions one by one in sequence so they can see what’s coming.
  5. Use group work. Though introverts are not the best team players, group work can be quite useful for them. Why not work in a small group and share one project? It’s a good experience even for shy students.
  6. If students weren’t active in the class, ask them to send their answers in writing for you to assess.
  7. Mix writing and discussions, choosing a variety of methods whenever possible.

By keeping these simple strategies in mind, you’ll be much more successful in engaging all your students in the classroom, whether they are introverted or extroverted.

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