Teaching Strategies to Reach Out to Student Introverts

Mar 16, 2020 by

20th century psychiatrist Carl Jung defines introverts as a person who generally directs his/her interests toward his/her own feelings and thoughts. An introverted personality typically faces difficulties in facing social situations and is normally timid, brooding and reserved. They also may show the characteristics of daydreaming excessively and exercising careful considerations judging all the possible outcomes before making decisions.  

So, by definition, an introverted student finds comfort in quiet, which in itself is polar opposite of anything resembling a traditional classroom. And that poses a dilemma for teachers. Should I treat them as equal without considering any differential treatment?  Or should I allow them for special preferences ignoring the majority reaping benefits from the existing methods? Is it even realistic to apply different approaches for the same class? 

Fortunately, to relieve the teachers from this awkward predicament, numerous studies and researches have been done and there are a lot of printed and online materials, discussions in blogospheres and ideas provided by teachers originated from experience gathered by years of teaching are available out there. These resources can direct the practicing teachers towards effective directions to take as guidelines for adjudicating the correct teaching strategies to reach out to the student introverts.

Making these findings as cornerstone, a few tuition providing services have also adopted tutoring strategies to support student introverts. If both the parents are tied with severe commitments to their careers, it’s always worth looking into these tuition providers, as they promise to keep the teaching atmosphere conducive for the introverts. 

Let’s find out about a few well thought-out strategies for the teachers to implement for the students introverted.

They Need Time and You Need to Wait:

It’s the very nature of the introverts that they need time to gather their thoughts as they never draw a conclusion without weighing in all the probable contributors. 

So, as a teacher, it would be best if you strike the rod while it’s still red, i.e. you need to establish precedence early on, as soon as you start the semester. Make it very clear to the students that, it won’t be acceptable raising hands and blundering answers even if the questions seem very easy to answer. So, everybody will have 2-3 minutes to think and then answer.

This will make all the introverts relaxed as they will have tome to contemplate and prepare their answers and in turn, they will have learnt the lessons. It’s a win-win for all.

 Ease Them into Participation and Make It Successful:

As a modern day teacher, you must have access to a variety of technology. Most classrooms are equipped with multimedia tools these days with internet connection. And you should use them facilitating the students introverted.  As the extroverted students wouldn’t bother screaming about what they think about what they learnt the previous night, the extroverted one may as well just pass without participating in any way. So, you can have the students choose between making a online video and/or giving an oral presentation in the class to test about their knowledge. This will help the extroverted ones participate in their own sweet time, in their own sweet terms. 

And the definition of participation should also be broaden as it doesn’t necessarily should mean blurting out anything that may or may not seem relevant. So in order to make the introverted students participate in the act of learning more can and ought to be varied:  requesting a meaningful insight maybe at the end of the class, presenting an opportunity to help a fellow student, asking for reviewing another student’s essay etc. 

The methods can be many and they should be taken advantage of, for easing the students introverted into participation. 

Let Them Feel Appreciated, A Lot:

Most of the times these students don’t get the chance to be appreciated as they would pass rather show their efficiency. Since they miss the chances to be appreciated intentionally, they run the risk of losing confidence, and as a result, loose motivation to excel, in what they once they believe in. And it would be very difficult for them to overcome this as they would rather fail than to open up.

So, as teachers, we need to be extra careful to never let this happen. And it doesn’t take much to let them feel confident and appreciated. An encouraging pat on the back, a gentle tap on the shoulder, a loving smile looking straight in the eyes etc are all it takes to boost their confidence and make feel valued.

Allocate ‘Alone Time’ Abundantly:

It’s common knowledge that introvert students like to be left alone. And when they are in school, that is a very rare commodity they can avail. So the teachers should keep it in mind always and program ‘Alone Time’ for the participating students as and when the scope arises. It can be brainstorming a new method to do something or jotting down their thoughts after they receive a lecture. 

This practice will incorporate ‘Alone Time’ efficiently and also the introvert students feel comfortable and energized.

Mind Your Language:

More often than not introverts are received negatively by their compeers or their supervising teachers. And this prompts how they are going to be described – by their family members, their teachers or the fellow classmates and they unknowingly fall prey to be typecast. The most used line they often hear about themselves is that ‘he need to stand up themselves’ or ‘she should participate more in the class activities’. Rather staying along those lines, we can easily depict them as ‘astute analyzer’.  And as we are showcasing the strengths of an introverted, they will response in acting accordingly.

Form Formations Favorable for Them in the Classroom:

Traditional approach of arranging rows after rows or creating cooperative pods has their benefits. But if we form the available spaces in the classrooms favoring the students introverted, it would create comfort zone for them and the extroverts wouldn’t be bothered a bit, as a result, the whole class can perform up to their full potential. What this means is considering social and physical spaces with quiet zones, whenever possible. And we also should think about the formatting the arrangements of common spaces, outdoors, designated lab and gym spaces etc.

Pre-Planned Work-Schedule:

The introverted students dislike sudden changes and avoid unfamiliar disputes, so we should be careful for surprising them, be it good or for a fabulous one. To not make jump out of their skin, we can follow the following simple rules:

  • A question written on board that has been discussed lately and still ongoing.
  • A gist of tasks that are planned for the day
  • A detailed course plan indicating allocating time of the year.
  • A printed daily schedule placed in plain view of everybody and encouraging them to make notice of it.

Those are just a few of the ideas that can be incorporated in the daily planning a teacher does. Obviously that plan should be done taking into considerations of your unique class environment,

Above are a few ideas that are derived from experience and are already proven to be fruitful. Of course, every classroom is different and every incident of introverted students is unique. So, I would say, instead of taking them as gospel, every teacher should use them as cornerstone integrating their own firsthand experience to implement strategies to reach out the students introverted.

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