Can an introvert become a teacher?
I’m an introvert, but have felt the pressure to seem like an extrovert, especially in teaching. Fortunately, I think being an introvert who’s been put out of her comfort zone has been a relationship builder in my classroom. It also lends to more personal practices like meeting with students one on one and giving them more autonomy.-English Teacher, Ally Taylor Schneck
100% yes! An introvert can become a very effective teacher.
In fact, some of the best teachers I know are introverts and I’m a natural introvert myself.
Administrators can be introverts too.
I spoke to a high school principal earlier this year and we bonded over our introvertedness. He told me he loves being a principal and working with kids, parents, and teachers one-on-one, but when he has to speak to a large group his introvertedness really kicks in. He has serious anxiety before and during meetings, but he does it because he loves all the other aspects of the job and really feels like he’s making a positive difference. He also has the option to close his office door once in a while when he needs a break from people. Not an option most teachers have.
Upsides of being an introvert and a teacher:
- Being a teacher provides you ample breaks throughout the year to spend some extended “you” time (of course unless you have kids of your own like me and ‘you time’ doesn’t exist anymore – that’s a whole other introvert problem).
- You might not be able to handle the same amount of noise and chaos that another teacher might, but this can be an upside. It can work in your favor and help you ensure quality classroom management.
- Personally, teaching keeps me from holding up in my introvert shell as I might do in a more solitary job.
- Teaching can help make you more confident in social situations. It has taught me to better interact with others on all levels and quite frankly how to entertain a “crowd.” I do better at dinner parties and cocktail hours now that I have experience teaching.
- Introverts tend to love learning, books, and writing and teaching allows you to share those passions with the next generation.
- Some very extroverted teachers become teachers because they like the attention. They may keep the focus in the classroom on themselves instead of on the content and on the kids (not all extroverted teachers, but some). As an introverted teacher, you put the students and the content first, which is good teaching practice. When the focus is not on you, you are happier which forces you to create a more student centered classroom.
- Introverts tend to use some of their much needed “me time” to reflect. I don’t know that there is any career out there that benefits more from reflection than teaching. We much reflect on the instructional choices we make, the behavior management choices we make, even down to the seating charts we make (or lack thereof). The more a teacher reflects, the better they will become. We are better teachers if we ask ourselves: “why am I doing this in this way?” “How could I do this better?” “What worked and what didn’t and how do I know that?”
- It is totally acceptable to eat lunch alone at your desk while grading papers, planning, etc.
- Being an introvert will help you connect with introverted students and they are often the ones that need that the most.
An introvert spends more time listening and observing student interactions without feeling like they have to be in control of every conversation. It’s really quite enlightening to just sit back and listen.– Elementary school teacher, Melanie Thompson Williams
Downsides of being an introvert and a teacher:
- Being around kids (who want to talk to you) all day may be very exhausting
- You might be more subject to burnout according to research shared on The Atlantic
- It can make talking to parents really difficult, especially if you have to tell them their kid is failing
- Introverts may find they need more alone time after school. (My husband works in a quiet room most of the day and wants to come home and talk and play music. He struggles to understand why I’m always turning the music off and seeking silence at the end of the day)
- You might find that if there are other teachers talking around the copy machine when you go to make copies, you turn around and come back later
- You may have great ideas, but find it hard to speak up and inject those ideas into a department meeting or conference. Ms. H. @Justnicki73 tweeted: “Imagine the chaos at staff meeting if everyone was an extrovert. I think being introvert makes me a deeper thinker. I definitely think before I speak.”
The older I become, the more I go inward. I believe it’s helped me think through situations and possible conversations BEFORE I open my mouth. That’s a good thing for everyone involved.Sharon Stellmach
Here is your call to action. Introvert teachers, leave a comment about how your own introvertedness has been a benefit to you as a teacher, or what aspects of your personality make teaching difficult. Wannabe teachers who are introverts, share what scares you about going into teaching given your introverted nature, or ask a question which current introverted teachers might be able to give you some advice on.
If you are interested in learning more about introversion and the power of introverts I highly recommend you read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.
Current teachers need you. Students need you. Our society needs you. Bravo for choosing a career in education!
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Looking for reading material? Check out these posts:
Review: Angela Duckworth’s “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance”
Recommended reading for future/new teachers
I recommend reading Brené Brown
Empower: what happens when students own their own learning
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