Charging our Batteries

Charging your Batteries

 

Both of us felt a personal need for  this week’s topic. We both go through phases of utter exhaustion in our jobs and we’re currently going through one right now! Sometimes even the most rewarding parts of a job can drain your energy and leave you wondering how you can recover enough to do it all again tomorrow. Our kids can feel this way too. Their energy batteries are drained long before the end of the day. School can be a tiring place!

 

As we contemplated times that we’ve felt professionally exhausted, we both agreed that we feel like jello when we return from a professional conference. We both take an annual four-day trip to a literacy conference in Columbus, Ohio.  We both agree it’s one of the highlights of our year. We both agree that it is a needed shot in the arm and equips us to better do our jobs. But we also both agree that it almost kills us. For opposite reasons! Take a look at what it is about professional togetherness that drains our batteries.

 

Introvert Energy Drain

Extrovert Energy Drain

Crowded rooms and hallways Sitting and listening to speakers for 4 days straight
Eating all meals with colleagues Feeling the need to be professional non-stop, even at meals
All down-time is used to network and connect…coffee, happy hour, dessert after dinner, etc…. Little time to socialize because most talk is shop-talk
Very little time to be alone in the hotel room Being alone in the hotel room

 

Luckily, we each get a little energy boost from the very things that drain the other! Susan recharges during sessions when she can just sit and listen and write. Johnny recharges when he meets with colleagues and new friends in the evenings. Susan likes that she gets some time alone in the hotel. Johnny likes that he doesn’t have to spend too much time alone in the hotel.

 

We wondered if our school days reflect these opportunities for introverts and extroverts to recharge their batteries.

 

From the Introvert: Susan’s Perspective

 

If you google “There’s no tired like ______,” the results will tell you that “teacher-tired” is the supreme kind of tired. I’ve been teacher tired and agree it’s a big tired. But to me, there’s no tired like introvert tired. Introvert tired paralyzes your brain and zaps your last stores of energy. Not a good state for learning or productive work.

 

If your classroom offers a series of interaction-intense experiences all day, then you’ve probably got quite a few exhausted introverts in your class. If you suspect this may be true, try asking their parents what happens when their child gets home from school. Do they beg to play with friends or do they retreat to solitude in order to recharge their energy?  Maybe a few tweaks in the classroom could help these children to replenish their energy in bits throughout the day.

 

A few questions to ask yourself about your classroom structure:

 

  1. Do my students alternate between a balance of oral language and printed language? If your class is very heavy on teacher talk, group interactions, and class discussions, your introverts may become fried. Try giving extended opportunities for quiet reading and writing, which are in-the-head activities.
  2. Do my students alternate between whole group, small group, and individual work opportunities? Having a variety of formats for interactions allows everyone to hit their sweet spot a few times throughout the day. Think of ways to switch up class discussions that might be more introvert friendly. Some teachers have tried this  Walk/Talk/Decide activity from the Teacher’s Toolkit website. Students pair up for a discussion walk and then decide what part of their discussion to share with the class. The introvert in me loves this activity because it’s easier for us to have a discussion when there’s no ‘audience’. And, we can usually get our partner to volunteer to share with the class!
  3. Do my students have the chance to use technology as a tool for interaction? Your introverts may reserve more of their energy (and produce better thinking) if they can use technology to discuss, reflect, and respond. Try using Padlet, Flipgrid, or SeeSaw.
  4. Do my students have the opportunity for both high energy and low energy brain breaks. Many teachers use Go Noodle to incorporate movement into the day. Look for the quieter, slower exercises as well as the high energy ones. Try offering the chance for quiet stretching or yoga poses as an alternative as well.

 

From the Extrovert: Johnny’s Perspective

 

When I think about “teacher-tired” and think about myself as an extrovert being tired it seems very alone and empty. As an extrovert, I love to be around others and be resorted through social interactions and conversations. When I don’t have these things regularly I can feel the essence of myself being drained. I lose energy and drive making me not nearly as effective. Keeping this in mind helps

 

Certain times of the year can drain the batteries of extroverts purely based on the nature of the school year. The beginning of the year can be hard because of all the assessment that needs to happen, as well as learning the rules and routines of the year. Extroverts absolutely need socialization time, lunch and recess are sometimes not enough for us to fully recharge and be fully productive. When an extrovert’s batteries aren’t fully charged it might lead to the need for conversation and social interactions at times that are not always appropriate. This may also lead to what might look like extra energy escaping the body or an increased inability to focus.

 

What if we offered opportunities for our extroverts to recharge? What might that look like? What can I do to help recharge my extroverts? Here are a few quick and easy suggestions to implement without much planning.

 

  1. Brain Breaks- these are great for when your extroverts need to get some wiggles out. Play a quick song and let us dance and sing along, or maybe a quick interactive game. Let us get up and move about the room and visit with our friends in a fun way. Go Noodle has some quick and fun videos that could work throughout your day, and it’s FREE!
  2. Optional Partner/Group Assignments- I firmly believe in this as an option to more traditional styles of work. I love when I get to dissect work with partners and work together as a team to come up with a solution. It recharges me everytime I get to see others working toward the same goal(s) I am. Group projects can help provide students with necessary 21st century learning skills that cannot, and will not, be acquired through “sit and get” learning.
  3. Quick Projects- extroverts need to jump right into their work. Instead of taking time and explaining maybe give them a quick explanation of the standard they are trying to accomplish and allow them to just go. Not only will this help fuel extroverts as they enjoy situations like this, but it also allows for personalization of the lesson/task which will help engagement increase.
  4. “Social hours”- think of this as a quick activity to get your students up and talking. Allowing time for extroverts to get their burning conversations out of the way so more learning can take place. There is something to be said about “if you can’t beat them, join them” Give extroverts what they need to be successful and hard workers.

 

We all must remember that recharging batteries is an art, it’s not “scientifically research based” but is something that we could put a little more stock into in the everyday classroom without sacrificing much. We are all some form of “vert” be it introvert, extrovert, or even ambivert (somewhere in between) and we all need time to recharge to be the best we can be in the classroom. We’ve offered a few suggestions here that we feel would be helpful in the recharge of teachers and kids batteries.

Our challenge to teachers is to simply implement and then reflect, what worked? What didn’t work? What could I try next time? Asking simple questions can cause great reflection in our practice and allow us to reach our students in ways we would have never imagined in the past. We would love to hear from you also! Please comment and leave your story. We love to read what you all have to say!

1 thought on “Charging our Batteries”

  1. This is a great post for teachers and parents! Your blog is sure to be an important resource for those searching for ways to support all students/children/teachers. You two are excellent mentors in the power of collaborating with those whose differences are seen as multiplying strength rather than dividing!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, insights, and the links for further study.

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