I am about to embark on a Masters in Teaching K-8, but I sometimes have doubts about how I'll handle being with my students for 30+ hours per day. In the past, I've taught College English (for 10 years) so I know I can teach, but the contact hours were fewer there. I've always loved school and teaching and dreamed for years of teaching K-8. I've saved my money and am now in a place to get my certification.
My concern is that I am an introvert which means I like a slower pace than some people, don't speak well off the cuff, and feel more comfortable one-on-one rather than in groups. And yet I've heard some people say that "most teachers are introverts." I know this is part of my strength--that I naturally reflect on my lessons and make improvements to them. I also know that I can connect one-on-one with students which helps my group dynamic.
On the downside, I don't like off-the-cuff public speaking or talking in front of groups, but for me, teaching my own class is different than that. I'm not lecturing, but rather involving and supporting the students. It's not exactly my comfort zone, but it is certainly do-able and is often fun.
So...any introverted teachers out there? Do you like teaching? What are your challenges? Is it possible for an innie to be happy as a K-8 teacher?
I think I can safely call myself an introvert, but yet, when I'm around children I become a completely different person. It's strange and almost an adrenaline high with me. Normally I enjoy keeping to myself, never go out of my way to talk to people, dread speaking in front of groups, but with kids I've become completely outgoing. I love it! I'm absolultely beat and drained by the end of each week, but it's a great fatigue. It's rewarding.
Teaching has certainly boosting my confidence level too. I'm not as fearful of confrontation (particularly after having to deal with some parents last year), which has changed the way I operate completely.
When I volunteered in a third grade class, I felt the same thing you've described. I felt like my heart burst open around the kids. I somehow feel a kinship with them and found myself energized in the classroom. I was volunteering part of the day and returning to my office job the rest. I also noticed myself beaming sometimes even when I wasn't volunteering--just remembering the kids and our interactions.
It sounds like you're glad you chose teaching. Glad to hear an introvert feels that way!
I am one as well, and I have just started my first classroom position. I too prefer not to speak in front of groups (esp. adults) but feel very different when I am teaching my group of grade two's. I do not feel intimidated at all and feel like my personality can really come out.
The challenges for me are the days when the class feels a little too crazy and noisy. That's when my introvert side badly wants some peace and quiet! But again, I am amazed at how much more I can handle than I had thought
Introverts need to know how to take care of themselves in order to recharge their batteries and not burn out. I take care to get some time to myself and to not over-extend myself.
It sounds like you have what it takes to be a great teacher!
You will be fine in a classroom! If teaching is something that are meant to do, then your personality will shine through. (I know I'm not meant to address big groups of adults!! !)
I can also relate to mme NPB's comment about the challenges being when the class is a bit crazy and noisy. Those days really wear me out and rattle me. (On days like that, I bring a kitchen timer and challenge my class to some minutes of "silent work"/reading in exchange for some magic beans (reward incentive) or extra recess minutes or whatever. Even if the class is noisy and active, I tend to recooperate on weekends! By Monday I'm ready to go yet again!
Yes, I know, I said it.
It's nice to know there are many other introverted teachers out there besides myself. It turns out it is quite a good profession for us and I think it is because we are such calm and patient people. Not only would working with kids be less intimidating than acting in front of a large crowd or giving a Eulogy in front of peers and elders, but our gentle demeanor is less intimidating for kids as well (not to say that extroverts are intimidating to them, but that this is what we bring to the table). I also find that as introverted as I have notoriously been pretty much my whole life, when given the position of leadership, you would never have guessed! As long as you are well planned, comfortable and confident, you will be just fine.
Any introverts who work with high school kids? How is it different?
I'm thinking of teaching high school, which is why I ask. I imagine it might be more stressful because they are older and maybe more critical of their teachers. But then you'll only be seeing them for a few hours a day.
I consider myself an introverted person, and I have 5 years of f/t classroom teaching experience in a 7-12 setting. I am not much of a talker, and I try to avoid talking as much as possible; it shows when I address my class. There are times when I wish I had a more outgoing personality, because I believe students respond to that pied-piper type of personality as opposed to a teacher who doesn't seem entertaining enough. Some teachers become energized in the classroom; the stimulation from the students arouses the teacher's senses (I would call this extraverted). Some teachers become burned out by this same stimulation. For me, it was like having to give a performance every day; I could perform for a period of three days perhaps, but to do it for 180 days would be more than completely exhausting.
I am an introvert, and I love teaching. This is also my second career after spending 4 years in Social Work. I still get nervous every year on the first day of school. I think that teaching has brought some of my personality out, and I'm a lot more vocal than I ever was.
I am what most people would call an introvert - meaning I don't need to be around other people in order to feel happy. (In fact, most days, I'd rather NOT be around people...)
Anyway, I truly enjoy teaching. I love the upper elementary grades - 3rd, 4th, 5th - because the kids are not as needy, but they still listen and respect you (for the most part). I will say that lower grades were tougher for me, and I think that is mostly because of my personality. I tend to teach slower-paced lessons, and I am NOT "bouncy" or that active, so big groups of younger kids overwhelm me. I have learned to extend myself some while teaching, so that the kids can see my enthusiasm about learning.
My advice would be to stick with upper elementary or possibly middle school, but definitely go for it!
I'm also fairly introverted, but love teaching. And, I currently teach middle school, but have taught high school with no problems. For some reason, I have no problem standing in front of the class and talking. But, put me in front of a group of adults to talk, and I'm super nervous, even if it's just at a PTO meeting. I think it's because in the classroom, you are the source of knowledge and authority. With adults, they may be smarter, and know more about a subject, so you no longer have that edge.
I have always dreaded public speaking in HS and Uni and avoided large social groups because they tire me out mentally. But it's different in the classroom. I teach HS and find that my character shines in the classroom but is extremely draining by the time by school day is over. This is my second year teaching and I feel burnt out. I'm hoping that my energy level increases over time. Any suggestions for the introverted teacher to gain more energy?
I have been an introvert and rather shy my entire life. In fact, I still am around most adults, especially if I don't know them very well. But when I am in a classroom and its just me and those kids its completley different. I don't feel uncomfortable about talking. I teach little ones so at this age they still love everything you say and do. As others have said, teaching has helped me become a little more assertive with adults as well.
I searched introverts and teaching and found your question. Thanks for posting it. I was happy to see that somebody had the same concerns. I have been subbing for five years now. I love being around the kids, but dread the idea of having to attend meetings and be social with adults. Also, I am shy with groups of adult strangers. I try to console myself with the fact that teaching is about a relationship with kids, not administration and other teachers. However, I know that the relationship with school staff and parents is important. If I end up trying to get certified, I guess I'll just have to accept getting nervous and red in the face alot. Thanks again for posting your question!
Like the teacher above me (post before), I also typed 'introverted teacher' into Google and came to this page! it's amazing to think that a lot of us introverts have the same thoughts! I'm almost at the end of my training but have been experiencing lots of self-doubt, after discovering my introvert temperament. At first it upset me that despite how much I loved the kids at some points I would feel too tired to respond enthusiastically, though I desperately wanted to. Then, I came across Marti Olsen's book "The Introvert Advantage" which made me realise that I wasn't a bad teacher, it was just that I have different energy levels to extroverts. This helped a lot.
Since then though, I have started to worry that maybe my energy levels may falter after a few energetic lessons. However, after reading the comments by other fellow introvert teachers I feel much better! In fact, thinking from the perspective of the children, they also need some downtime in lessons when they can just concentrate without lots of noise or overstimulation too. Some children may find constant energetic teaching styles too much, especially if they are introverted or highly sensitive. So, all in all, a balance in the teaching force and lesson presentation between extraverted/introverted is probably a good thing for everyone
I would much rather be at home with a good book than in any social gathering. But I love teaching my 4th graders. I become a different person. The difficulties I have more concern my grade group of teachers. They are all very outgoing and outspoken and I tend to shrink back and give the appearance of having no opinion or ideas when I really do. I'm just not vocal about them.
Keeping it short and sweet! I am an extrovert and I love teaching. Do I think you can teach being and introvert....ABSOLUTELY! Kids come in all shapes, sizes, dreams, wishes, learning styles, personalities, etc...and so do adults. Some lucky student will love having you as a teacher, regardless of your personality.
introvert but I love teaching...I find it truly amazing that I can talk in front of a class or a gym full of kids but still get butterflies with my peers and with adults. Give it a shot! You will do fine and kids will benefit from having you teach them.
I am a 22 year old college student that decided a year ago to become a math teacher. I am hoping to teach secondary education levels grades 6-12. I believe that in middle school is when students begin to dislike math, and it is the students who are introverted like me who can't speak up that I can relate best with, and they need the most encouragement, so although I get along poorly with adults the kids I work best with are just like me. I worked in a day camp for 6 summers so far and I love it.
I am extremely introverted. I write well, but am a lousy talker and am very shy. I taught for 12 or 13 years (lost track). Around children (the younger the better) I was pretty outgoing and a good actress. I would even sing and dance for the kids, put on little shows for them, and act silly. I could NEVER do that for adults-- I can barely make my voice loud enough to be heard when talking around adults, even my husband. So yes you can definitely be an introvert and I bet you woul dbe a fabulous teacher even though you are introverted.
The querying of whether an introvert can survive and moreover thrive within the classroom is an unique experience felt subjectively by each introvert. It's too simplistic to refer the thread to examples of introverts who enjoy the classroom setting. Introversion is not simply a definite label, but rather indicated a preference along a spectrum of a characteristic. In other words, there are differing degrees of introversion. Therein lies the problematic nature of analysing this thread for verification of whether teaching can work for introverts. For example, a person who having a personal positive experience of teaching who them recommends teaching may in actuality being only mildly introverted. Hence, I suspect there are many positive affirmations of teachers advocating their profession, projecting their own enjoyment, without fully being away of their depth of introversion.
Yeah, I agree with serenitymuse's point. There are differing levels of introversion. Also, different situations bring out different qualities of introversion with people. Good Point. It does seem effective for people who have had really difficult struggles to bring up their lessons. After all, we learn more from our failures than our successes, right? Well, that's what Garrison Keilor says, and I agree.
I have been a teacher for about 15 years. I am very introverted but I love teaching and I love my job. However, I have had overcome some obstacles that come up when you combine the two things. I just read a book called Introvert Power that talks about many introverts going into jobs that involve helping people. It was a very good book for me and I came away with a lot of insight about myself.
If you like what you teach and you enjoy kids you'll be very happy in your career. Some things I struggle with involve the very busy busy days and hectic schedules. Your days are very full and there never time to sit. Often you multi task and are solving 3 things at the same time.There are always meetings before and after school. I am also involved in some coacching and lots of supervison with sports or dances.
I need time to process things and I love quiet. That's my introvert. I use my home as my sanctuary and make sure I have time to unwind and process the day. I have had to learn to balance the way I am with the job I have.
I love teaching so balancing it out is something I am committed to.
I've been teaching for 3 years now. Every time I get a new contract, I tell myself, this time it will be better, I will not be so shy and everything will go well. The year starts, and I start being akward and self-concious with my collegues. I'm an introvert. I would prefer to stay in my class, teach when my students come in and have a break from the social stuff at lunch or on my break. If I don't go to the teachers' lounge for lunch or at break time, I get the reputation of the anti-social girl. I just don't understand why people need to talk all the time. When I say something, it's not just for chit-chat. It's meaningfull and I've thought it over. I like teaching. I think I'm good at it and like the contact with my students. It's the socializing with my collegues that I have a hard time with. We have so many group meetings and so many activities to plan for our students that I'm drained at the end of the day. I often think that I would be better off doing something else because of the social aspect of my job. But teaching is my calling. I'm still trying to figure out how to be at peace in a very social job. Hope there are no spelling mistakes! I'm a French teacher and haven't written in English in a long time!
I am in my second year teaching High School English, and unfortunately not loving it. I'm trying to figure out why and what I could do to like it more, which is how I have come across this thread. I guess I never realized it before, but I like to be by myself and a rush of 30 students every 45 minutes is way too many for me. I like the one-on-one teaching and tutoring, but dealing with all these kids exhausts me. Maybe teaching younger grades would be easier, but I would say that being an introvert is hindering me as a teacher.
I'm a classic introvert and I'm coming to the end of my second year of teaching. I like to keep to myself, only surround myself with long time friends/wife. I won't initiate conversations but if someone talks to me I can hold a decent conversation. This didn't come easy to me when I was younger but I've learned how to act in social situations. When I'm teaching I become a different person, I put on an act. Teaching definitely took me out of my comfort zones and it was tough for the first few months to build the nerves for it.
One upside to being an introvert is you can read peoples emotions better. I always know when a student is not feeling right. Also we tend to do more planning and have decent lessons because are always preoccupied with our own thoughts.
Teaching has made me more confident, I can stand in front of a group of children or adults and not feel nervous at all. I think I'm good at what I do and I feel all the better for it.
With that said, by the time I get home I desperately need to recharge my batteries. After acting/being around people all day I need to be by myself. I usually do dinner with my wife/talk about the day, then retreat into my study and listen to music/surf the web/play video games for the rest of the night. I can definitely stay in teaching for the rest of my life as I feel I am quite good at it and comfortable, but this will be my last semester as I plan on moving on to other things.
I'd like a job more suited for introverts, so I'm looking at accounting/computer programming programs at universities in my area. I hope to get a job where my interaction with people will be more one on one and small groups.
I've been teaching high school English for eight years. When I'm not in school, I usually prefer being with my husband and two young children, gardening, writing, reading--solitary activities. I don't have a lot of energy for interacting with family, friends, and neighbors.
But, like many others, I'm a different person in the classroom: livelier, more spontaneous, more fun-loving, but also more commanding (not in an authoritarian way, but in a sure way). I have a good sense of what to say and how to get everyone to participate. If my classes go especially well, the adrenaline high is exhilarating. What I constantly have to work at is moderating my energy level. For example, we just had Parents' Night last night, and I did really well interacting with five different sets of parents and having several positive hallway conversations. Then I crashed. Driving home at 10:00 feeling absolutely down, I felt as though I were a failure. I love teaching, but last night, I began to wonder whether I could/should sustain many more years of the grueling 10-month school calendar. The highs are high, and the lows are low. If you are an introvert considering a teaching career, I think you should go for it because everyone wants to discover just what she or he is capable of. My years of teaching have rewarded me many times over, and now I will do some soul-searching about when to leave it so that my predominant memory of it will be good and not bittersweet.
Dave's message is well written and captures many of the ups and downs of teaching as an introvert. I taught at a university for two years and then middle school for five years. I found that I could teach well and plan great lessons, however, I did feel very burned out at the end of the day due to the constant communication with students, parents, and fellow teachers. I'm not sure that I could sustain that kind of energy for many more years. On the other hand teaching is definitely my calling and I know that it is one of my gifts so I'm just seeking God's will and waiting to see which direction He will have me go. This is really the heart of the matter because God can give you the strength and wisdom to do any job He wants you to do. On a side note, I would like to say that in my opinion teaching students one on one is not any different from teaching large groups of children in the sense that you still have to talk and work hard to meet the needs of the other person.
This is a great thread and the fact that it has been going on for years speaks to its importance. I am just finishing my first year in a MA in art education with certification K-12. I have not really decided what ages I prefer, but I realize in this economy I may not have much of a choice!
Out of undergrad I worked at a Starbucks for a year. I took the job mostly because I like coffee and it offered great health care benefits. As an introvert, I wasn't really sure how I would handle being in a public space and constantly having to deal with new people. Surprisingly I ended up really enjoying it, which had in part to do with having a great manager and a few coworkers I got along well with. I think without those relationships I would have quit in a few months. For me having just one or two good friendships in a workplace can make a world of difference. It takes a lot of work to get to that place, especially for an introvert, but ultimately makes my job a lot more relaxing. I originally sought to be a psychologist, and eventually I really disliked its constant focus on the negative of a person's life. Also, I was really missing doing hands on creative work. I had a job as a case worker, and although I had a good amount of time to myself, I still found it draining because I had no bonds with the people there. My point being that sometimes WHERE you work and WHO you work with is just as important as WHAT your work is. I choose art education because I do not want to lecture for an entire class. I would prefer to have kids work on projects and I can walk around answering questions. One thing I keep hearing from current teachers is to be picky about where your first job is. In this economy that seems counterintuitive, but can really make a difference in terms of the direction of your career and your well being. I will try to heed this advice when I apply for jobs in two years.
Agree that this is a great topic. I was drawn here after preparing a lecture for a class that I have upcoming for an undergraduate course in Soc. I was wondering myself how I became a teacher even though I am highly introverted.
Maybe extroverts are out there doing activities all day while we sit around and enjoy quiet, read, and learn. Naturally then we would be drawn to teaching, because teaching is also a learning activity. You have to learn even more so you can teach better.
I work a full time job and teach part time a night a week and am somewhat different when I teach then when I work. I talk little at work, do no presentations, even though I supervise I sort of do so in a relaxed non-authoritarian manner. So I suppose I am a bit passive for the most part at work.
At school I can tend to lecture too much and have to remember to invite participation from adult learners.
So the bottom line is yes lots of teachers are introverts, not just public school but university level too.