It’s been a long week and it’s only Wednesday. Educators have those kinds of week, when each day is more activity-packed than the day before. Well, this morning I got a text from one of my best friends. She invited my husband and me to her home for a Friday evening party. Appetizers, drinks, good friends. Seems like the perfect antidote to the stress of a busy week.
But guess what — to this introvert, it sounded like a torturous ending to my stressful week. When an introvert has a week full of people and activity, Friday night is the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the robe, slippers, and book cure to my depleted battery. I look so forward to it and to think of filling it with people and chatter (even my favorite people) sends me into despair.
Strategy #1: Wait it out. See if other people can’t make it. Then I won’t have to be the one to say “no.”
Strategy #2: Agree to go, but warn everyone involved that I will be wearing slippers and leaving early.
Strategy #3: Just say “no.”
This time, I’m choosing Strategy #2. I want to nurture my friendships and I know my husband would like me to go with him. I really do care about having close friendships and I know that friendships require time and attention. I’ll save Strategy #3 for a time that I’m even more depleted than I am this week.
How does this scenario relate to our students? It plays out everyday at lunch and recess. Introverted students who have been working in groups, participating in discussions, and being “on” all morning, now head to lunch or recess. They are drained and could really use some down time. A quiet environment or some time either alone or with just one or two friends could help them recharge enough for the afternoon. But lunch and recess are the opposites of that. They are the loudest, most chaotic, most highly charged times of the day. And just when an introvert needs to recharge, they are drained even more.
Kids don’t have the option of declining to go to lunch and recess. But maybe we could offer them some choices that could meet their needs. Could recess include options for nature walks or gardening? Could there be opportunities to read or draw or build? Could lunch have smaller tables for children to sit with just a few other friends? I would have loved these small changes as I was growing up. I bet (know) there are children in all our schools who feel the same way.