Don’t Underestimate the Quiets

This past year I’ve engaged in frequent conversations with colleagues around the social continuum of extraversion-introversion and how it relates to our staff. Lately, I find myself apologizing for ignoring the needs of introverts in my life, especially teachers who may be overwhelmed by my extraversion. How many times have I barged into a teacher’s classroom at 7:30 in the morning wanting to banter about  the success of the Red Sox the previous night? Or perhaps I suddenly wanted to discuss some pedagogical issue without realizing that this introverted teacher just wants some peace and quiet in order to get ready for the day.

Three things I have learned about introversion which has helped me tremendously:

  • Introverts are not shy. They often just need an environment that is not too stimulating in order to be productive and happy.
  • Introverts receive energy more from within themselves then from outside sources such as this meddling but well intentioned Principal. 
  • A colleague told me recently that I like my job so much because I draw energy from other people – and clearly a school building full of hundreds of people has a copious amount of energy to give. But this is not true for all.

Every week I share both a professional article and a video as part of my blog to staff I call “The Sunday Blast”. The most popular video I’ve shared with my colleagues has been Susan Cain’s TED Talk on “The Power of Introverts” based on her best-selling book Quiet. Please take the time to view:

I’m convinced that an organization benefits from having both introverts and extraverts as part of its structure, especially in a collaborative environment where professional learning communities drive much of the decision making around students and the function of the school itself. I’ve been influenced greatly regarding this continuum by my friend, workshop-mate and self-proclaimed introvert Tony Baldasaro who has written about this topic in an article in Edutopia

As we reflect on the social factors inherent in our schools, we must be aware of the “Quiets” and the power they can bring to a staff. Most importantly, as I have learned, we must simply be aware that “Quiets” exist and their style needs to be honored and appreciated.

Is there a “Quiet” in your life that is misunderstood? Make it a goal to reach out to this colleague appropriately when school gets rolling again. 

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