“Harry — yer a wizard.”
Those words set Harry Potter on a brand new course for his life. Those words changed everything! Not just for Harry, but for all wizards everywhere! (Yes, we are both avid Harry Potter fans, and yes, we may take all things Harry Potter a bit too seriously. Not surprisingly, Susan is a Hufflepuff and Johnny is a Slytherin — the good, world-saving kind.)
Until Harry heard those words, the traits that were his strongest assets were the traits that caused him the most trouble. Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon tried to squelch those very traits. Harry tried to hide them. But once he found out that he was not an oddball, that other people (lots of other people!) were also wizards, he could recognize those traits as gifts.
We think the same thing holds true for many of our students whose introversion or extroversion causes them trouble at school as well. When children are stressing over group projects, class discussions that they can’t seem to contribute to, and the high energy of recess or lunch, they feel as though they are the only ones struggling. At the same time, other children are trying to contain their thoughts as the teacher once again asks them to stop talking or they are squirming in their seats during a lecture class, and they feel as though they are a behavior problem.
What if we help them label these traits? What if we show them that everyone falls on a continuum of introversion and extroversion and that we need everyone’s traits in order to make our class its most successful? What if we show them that these traits are actually gifts?
Teaching Children About Introversion / Extroversion
We have known about our personality traits for a while, and as adults it is helpful to take a look at where these can help and hinder aspects of our lives. For students in your classrooms, they may not be able to find the path on their own. We suggest taking some time with your students and learning about their personalities. There are many resources online that can help you in pinpointing what type of personality you have. There aren’t many that are geared toward younger learners. Knowing the key traits of introverts and extroverts could help us guide our younger learners. We hope to continue researching this topic and develop more understanding so we can create a self assessment that can be used by all learners, young and old! Linked below are a couple easy, and straightforward self assessments that can help us identify our learning personality.
From the Introvert: Susan’s Perspective
A few memories from my school days:
My 5th grade gym teacher pulling me aside apologetically and saying, “I have to give you a B- in gym because you don’t really do anything or show a competitive spirit.”
Hanging out in the bathroom during lunch, so I could escape the craziness and just be alone for a bit of the day.
Getting that throat-tightening, shaky hands feeling when I would force myself to raise my hand and make comments in class so I would get a decent “participation grade.”
Looking back, I think that’s a shame because although I thought I was the only one feeling that way, I know now that probably a third of the class felt the same way. I didn’t know then that my disposition made it hard for me to get excited about Dodge Ball and it made it very tiring for me to be in a loud, active environment for 7 straight hours a day. I know it now though, and I think it’s time for schools to become places where various dispositions can thrive and develop talents. We need what every child has to offer!
Check out some of these ideas for allowing introverts to play to their strengths.
|Strengths of Introverts||What to do about it|
Take a look at this article from Reader’s Digest that helped me wrap my mind around introverts and our strengths. Reader’s Digest 6 Strengths of Introverts
From the Extrovert: Johnny’s Perspective
Some teachers may say labeling is not the best practice, I beg to differ. Growing up I was labeled as the talkative, social, energetic one, and I was always “too…” Be it “too loud” “too social” “too energetic” “too talkative” when I became older and started to become more self aware I saw this as a negative. My teachers saw this as a negative- I found report cards recently and read the comments and just laughed to myself. They were all the same, and I am ok with that now! I wonder what could have changed for me had I known why I was this way. Had my teachers labeled and leveraged my abilities, rather than try to conform them, what would this had done for me in the long run? Most likely I would have continued this path and been just as successful as I am today, but I can’t help but think I might have been a little bit better for knowing it was a positive instead of a negative.
I believe that teachers can help harness this power in their young extroverts, turn them from being “too social” into be the social leaders in the room. Research is starting to prove that classroom discussions can be some of the most powerful ____ for our students. Why not cultivate it within your very own classroom instead of having to fake it?
Let’s take a moment and explore some strengths of extroverts and what a classroom teacher could do to harness this energy.
|Strengths of Extroverts||What to do about it…|
Take a look at this article from Reader’s Digest that helped me wrap my brain around extroverts and our strengths. Reader’s Digest 5 Strengths of Extroverts
We hope you were able to find some useful information today that may help uncover the understanding of introverts and extroverts. We are still learning about these fascinating labels, and hope you will continue the journey with us.
In case you are wondering what Harry Potter house you would be sorted in, check out this Quiz We love to hear from you, let us know in the comments below what house you’re a part of. Also if you’re an introvert or extrovert!
-Also real quick, the “Follow” link that was on our page for the first (and part of second) posting was not correct. Please find the new follow link, type your email and you will get notifications in your email every time there is a NEW blog post. Thank you and apologies for the incorrect button the first time around!