Uncomfortable Situations for Extroverts

Susan and I have spent time working together to discuss and think about introverts and extroverts. We are taking a slightly different approach to this post. I am going to spend some time talking just about extroverts for a moment.

Recently I had an experience where I was made to work outside of my comfort zone. For about 15 minutes I was asked to work with a small group of my peers, but wasn’t allowed to talk. We had to take turns with a marker, brainstorming our thoughts on Personalized Learning.  For an extrovert, this is a tricky task to complete successfully. We need to talk, we need to interact. I want to take a few moments and describe what was going on while I was having this experience.

First I thought “Oh god… how am I going to be able to do this?” and I started to scan the room to see if anyone else appeared to be feeling stressed out as well. I tend to think a majority of my peers are introverted, they didn’t seem to be a bit worried about the task.

After the stress set in, I started to wonder how I was going to come up with ideas to throw out on the table,

What if my idea wasn’t amazing?

What if my idea was someone else’s and I had to think of another?

What if I couldn’t come up with one when the pen hit my hand?

All the while, not really paying attention to what was going on the chart in front of me. I wanted to blurt out everything that was going on in my head but knew that would be inappropriate. Not to mention our leader was standing a few feet away and I wanted to look professional.

The task went on, ideas were placed on the chart, and everyone survived. The next thing that I noticed was truly interesting. As we moved to the group discussion – finally the one part an extrovert truly excels at – I found myself to completely revert inside myself and stay silent. I had very little to say, except “yeah” “ok” “good idea” etc. And I found myself to be thinking about how hard it was for me to keep it together, rather than keep my thoughts on what was needed for the task.

Was this because I am writing a blog about this topic and I was studying myself too much?

Was this a reaction to the stress I felt by having to keep everything in?

How can we, as educators, help recognize when stress is kicking in and swoop in to either support the learner in the created learning environment or take them out of it to keep the learning moving? I’d like to offer some suggestions on helping our extroverted students navigate these uncomfortable situations.

  • What if the teacher could sit with students they know will struggle to scaffold through the silent time?
  • What if the teacher had non-linguistic methods for students to indicate when they need some help?
  • What if there was a space to go when a student was feeling like they couldn’t keep up with the task without breaking the rules?

We must remember to ask ourselves, “What is the purpose?” If we stay focused on student learning then we must do everything we can to ensure learning for all. For our extroverted students in specific, they thrive and need interaction with others. When we as teachers know this cannot happen, we have an obligation to scaffold in any way that we can to help them thrive and learn. At the end of the day, learning is the goal of every moment in our classrooms. 

3 thoughts on “Uncomfortable Situations for Extroverts”

  1. Thank you for sharing practical strategies for the future! Very interesting that when it was time to share, you found yourself going inside instead of sharing out loud. It makes me wonder how many of our students want to be out in the wilderness with us, but because we aren’t reaching them with our strategies and relationships, they retreat instead. Insightful indeed!

  2. What an interesting perspective! It is amazing how our emotions can impact a learning situation. We often don’t think extroverts could feel this way. It makes me wonder how introverts often feel as well. Thanks!

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