- Inclusive classrooms should meet each child where they are and respond to all the different parts of themself they bring to the classroom.
- Introverts are often overlooked.
- Reflect on how your school or classroom can be a more welcoming place for all.
Thriving As You Are
When students enter school they should be able to thrive using their strengths and preferred learning styles. Educators are well aware that one size does not fit all. Teachers design lessons for various readiness levels. They work in collaborative teams to address the needs of each learner and develop learner pathways and scaffolds. Inclusive classrooms provide support for students at all readiness levels, responding to their diverse cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. During back-to-school planning meetings, teachers share strategies for building relationships, team building, and providing a positive experience during the opening weeks of the school year.
One group that tends to get overlooked is students who identify as introverts. Students do not walk into a classroom with a sign on their back that says, “I’m an introvert.” “In every classroom, teachers try to engage students who have a variety of temperaments: extroverts, introverts, and ambiverts” (Kris, 2018). In an effort to increase student engagement, some lessons and assignments favor extroverts. Inclusive classrooms support each learner.
Discovering Who You Are
The COVID-19 pandemic created several challenges for teachers and students. As students were required to wear masks in several schools and social distancing was enforced, it made collaboration and group projects more difficult. When students returned to school, they discovered a shift in their preferred learning style. At the beginning of the 2022-23 school year, teachers (with good intentions) began the year with group activities, project-based learning, and instructional strategies that were difficult during the previous school year(s).Designing inclusive classrooms must consider the needs of introverts. Click To Tweet
Examples of Activities That Favor Extroverts:
- Red Carpet Welcome on opening day of school
- What I Did This Summer – presentation to class
- Team building games
- Group projects
- Whole group instruction
- Competitive games in an academic setting
- Student ambassadors
- Turn and talk
- Assignments that don’t provide choices for introverts
- Collaborative projects using tech tools
- Flexible seating (without options for independent learning)
- Student assemblies
As a reader, you may be rolling your eyes at some of the examples. It can be challenging to provide alternate assignments for students, but it is the right thing to do. “Solitude matters. And for some people, it is the air that they breathe” (Cain, 2012). If a student thrives while working independently, then teachers should provide options for independent work. The workforce seeks employees who are problem solvers, long-range planners, innovators, and self-starters. K-12 classrooms should be designed to focus on each learner’s strengths, rather than forcing all learners to adapt to one learning style.[scroll down to keep reading]
Six Questions for Teacher Teams
- Which instructional strategies would support introverts in this week’s lessons?
- Do our learning spaces support introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts?
- What is the ratio of group projects, small group projects, and independent learning in our class?
- Do students feel safe, supported, and engaged based on the way learning is organized?
- Do our assessments support introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts?
- Have we reflected on the strengths of introverts? Are we designing lessons and assignments that empower introverts to maximize their strengths?
Sentence Stems for Supporting Teacher Teams
How might we design opportunities for introverts to _________________?
One instructional strategy we learned during the pandemic is ____________________.
In order for (introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts) to succeed, we must _____________________.
Introverts thrive in my classroom when ______________________.
Because we believe __________________, we are committed to ____________.
According to the Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning (2022), “An inclusive classroom climate refers to an environment where all students feel supported intellectually and academically, and are extended a sense of belonging in the classroom regardless of identity, learning preferences, or education. Such environments are sustained when instructors and students work together for thoughtfulness, respect, and academic excellence, and are key to encouraging the academic success of all students.” Designing inclusive classrooms must consider the needs of introverts. Are we creating anxiety for some learners or a barrier to learning by emphasizing collaboration, group work, and class rewards that favor extroverts? Design classrooms where all learners have the opportunity to thrive, rather than merely survive.
Cain, S. (2012). The power of introverts. TED. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts.
Kris, D. F. (2018) Six strategies to help introverts thrive at school and feel understood. KQED, Inc. Retrieved from https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/51811/six-strategies-to-help-introverts-thrive-at-school-and-feel-understood.
Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning (2022). Inclusive Classroom Climate. Retrieved from https://poorvucenter.yale.edu/ClassClimates#:~:text=An%20inclusive%20classroom%20climate%20refers,%2C%20learning%20preferences%2C%20or%20education.
About Steven Weber
Dr. Steven Weber is the Associate Superintendent for Teaching and Learning with Fayetteville Public Schools (AR). His areas of research include curriculum design, formative assessment, professional learning, and school leadership.