As we near the end of 2013, there is an exuberance that has sprinkled itself all along the United States as Winter Break has arrived. Holiday lights decorate homes. The unbelievable smell that emanates from wood burning fire places gently floats through the chilly night air. The streets are bustling with last minute holiday shoppers. Celebratory gatherings have begun. The decadent hot chocolate, whose heat, penetrates our gloved hands. Yet I have cuddled into one of my favorite nooks on my oh-so-comfortable couch to think…reflect…and wonder, “How will 2014 be a year that embraces the power of introverts?”
Understanding the world of introversion has been very prevalent, as of late. My principal finished Quiet:The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain during Book End (our school wide reading program) and placed it in my hands for my own research and understanding. As I started flipping through the piece, I felt compelled to do more research because the concepts surfacing were a detailed description of how I move through the world. Before I allowed my vulnerability to take over and believe everything I read in this book, I wanted to know exactly who Susan Cain was. As an introvert, deep and thorough understanding of theoretical ideals feeds my soul. Just saying.
After watching Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts, I felt this overwhelming sense of needing to message this information to my students. I know, in my own journey as an introvert, there have been moments of painstaking chaos when all I needed was time. I needed time to gather my thoughts; time to sift through all of those insights; time to expand my ideas; time to understand the surfaced layers of complexity… I recognize students suffering through the same struggle in room 382 as well.
All students who struggle to find their voice in writing, reading, and communicating need time to build confidence and skill; and this does not necessarily mean they are introverts. A safe space to explore is essential. Risk-taking allows students to recognize their mistakes and empowers them to find ways to feel success; and only happens when they know their vulnerability will not be taken advantage of. We, as educators, are aware of this.
However, the idea of knowing who our introverts are would not stop gnawing at me. Which students find comfort and growth utilizing outside factors and people to fuel their creativity? (Extroverts) Which students are comforted by finding their ‘nook’ and looking inside of themselves to embrace their creativity? (Introverts) So I decided as a community, we were going to get to know the ‘real’ personalities learning in 382.
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend taking the Myers Briggs Personality Test to gain insight into your own world of learning and understanding. I introduced the concept to students, passed out laptops, and off they went…embracing an activity that was soon to explain why they are who they are! Chuckles along the way made the process that much more beautiful.
Students read all about their personality type and were captivated by its accuracy in some circumstances, and inaccuracy in others. That’s the beauty of this experience; people are “not all or nothing” in any circumstance, this one included. However, the assessment allows us to be privy to the dominant features of our personality. This information is priceless. I love having a better understanding of who the procrastinators are in the room because it’s my obligation to direct anti-procrastinating skills at these students. Who needs just those few extra minutes when free writing in our Writer’s Notebooks in order to complete a detailed thought? What students will ‘go with the flow’ because it’s innately who they are? What students thrive on making decisions with their own best interest in mind vs. the students who think of the impact on others based on their decision?
To understand who is occupying 382 daily; we physically moved to one side of the room or the other as we debunked each category and made sense of what it all means. It was insightful to see students embracing who they are as young adults; and most importantly, as part of humanity. Students went on to create posters filled with insight, activities, and “Aha!”s that described the four categories of one’s personality. The buzz throughout the room was infectious and not one student sat this one out. Because, when students are invested in learning about themselves, each other, and the world that surrounds them; they thrive.
As students moved about the room, I had a moment. I was shocked to see 2/3 of my students as introverts! What?! Shocked. I had rationales as to why there was chaos ensuing as the new cycle (and new infusion of students) just started. I know that deficiencies in literacy typically lead to behavioral concerns if not managed. I know a two hour intervention course pushes students to limits. Yet, I had NEVER contemplated that the majority of my students could be introverts. I mean, the room is always so loud…and chaotic. Introverts?
It was at that moment that I realized the loud, chaotic vibe encircling us all was simple. Students’ innate needs were not being met. Students did not have the time they needed to think, write, and communicate. So, after the activity we took straight to our Writer’s Notebooks and reflected. One student proudly announced, “Many people who think they know me think I’m an extrovert. They’re wrong.”
So, as I continue to ponder (in awe) about the world of introversion, I can’t help but wonder: How will 2014 be a year that embraces the power of introverts?