Reflections on teaching introverts and extroverts

In reading Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking, one quote stood out to me. “…A mind forever voyaging through seas of Thought, alone.” Wordsworth wrote this as a description of Isaac Newton, arguably one of the greatest introverted minds of all time.

Are we asking children to collaborate too often? There are clearly students who are more collaborative/extroverted, while others need more time to themselves. Cain’s work highlights the importance of thinking and working alone in order to truly develop understanding.

How do we allow students to do both – collaborate and work independently – and make the choice that is best for them, not just forcing them to take on what fits our teaching schedule best? How do we design our classrooms so that students have the option to do both?

While I think of myself as an introvert and feel like I connect to the quieter children in my classroom better than the louder ones, I still find myself catering to the more extroverted students frequently – responding to their called-out answers, redirecting their unnecessary behaviors. How else am I implicitly telling my students that being extroverted is better than being introverted? I don’t want to

How do we gain knowledge about children to understand what is best for them? Can we help them do both successfully, or at least feel comfortable in both a quieter and more vocal position in class? Are there assignments that I can create or design that allow students to attack it in different ways?

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