I am an introvert, meaning I am at my best when I have solitary time to reflect, appreciate, plan. I usually prefer being alone, or with my immediate family. When at school, I am very outgoing and friendly, yet, sometimes the nonstop contact (with students, parents, colleagues, administration...) seems to just wear me out. I was aware of this possibility going into teaching, but still felt it was my calling, and was inspired by the fact that Ghandi, MLK, Jr. and Oprah have the same personality type I have--and they obviously contributed great things in callings with extensive human contact.
But, honestly, I'm wondering if it's possible to be truly happy and effective as a teacher and be an introvert at the same time. Some days, I just really dread having a room full of students all day; the thought of attending a faculty meeting is also often a downer--I don't want to "discuss" situations in a group. I'd rather have time to think through them, and then apply solutions in my classroom.
What are your thoughts on this? Better yet, any happy teacher introverts out there? Any unhappy ones feeling out of place? Any insight/honesty would be greatly appreciated.
I feel similar, however I don't mind the room full of students. I love the solitude of my classroom. I started the year off with a student teacher and an aide. It was the worst beginning to a school year ever for me. I didn't have a moment of down time. I still have the aide, however. She is a talker, and is driving me nuts. I cherish my quiet time when the kids are at art, music, phys. ed... I work through my lunch, or sometimes just surf the net. I love that peace. It's the same at home. I've been married to a wonderful guy for 9 years and we live in complete peace. We have no drama in our lives, only fun and love.
Like you, I am not fond of group work. As a teacher I feel it's my job to teach group working skills, and allow for opportunities for children to practice, but I also know there are students in my class that are just like me. They'd rather do it themselves.
I've never been one to have a large group of friends. Instead, I feel very comfortable having 3 or so close girlfriends. That's plenty.
I'm also discoving I suffer from a fear of crowded places. It's not a safety thing, but I just hate having so many people around me. I feel smothered.
All of these symptoms seem to get worse with age, but I am fine with them. It's just me and I'm okay with that. Let's enjoy our peace in this chaotic world!
I think I am pretty much the same way. I question whether or not it's an introverted thing or something else. As a child, I was very shy and hated to work in groups - as I grew and went into high school and college, I was completely the opposite. I, too, as I grow older, seem to fall more into being the introvert I was as a child in elementary school. I'd rather just do things by myself.
I hate it when people look at that as not being a team player, too. I am so willing to work with people when I have to, I just don't prefer to. Does that make sense?
I see that my happiest teacher days are when I can focus on the fact that that is just the way I am and not take others seeing it as a negative so personally. I'm more sensitive the older I get too, as I was as a child. I take things very personally even though I know I shouldn't.
I feel the same as the rest of you who have posted so far on this thread. I'm a special teacher, so my students come and go at 30 minute intervals. Sometimes I get weary of saying the same thing 9 times a day, but I do enjoy when I have a break. The worst for me is the noise in the hallway when 260 kids go out to recess at the same time, and more than half of them pass my door. There is no attempt to make them walk or use "inside voices", so I downloaded something called Atmosphere Lite. I play it with headphones on (from the computer) when there is noise in the hallway, and I'm not so stressed anymore.
As far as being happy with teaching, I'm here for now and that's all I'll promise. We have a farm, raising buffalo, and I sure wouldn't mind just driving the tractor and caring for the animals all day instead of teaching.
I am also an introvert who enjoys teaching and the energy of a classroom, but only so much of that. After a day of non-stop kid energy I am badly in need of some quiet time, which is hard to come by with kids of my own. My husband is also a teacher and an introvert and after many years of teaching, he has learned how to create the time and space he needs to re-charge his batteries, both during the workday and after.He also hates meetings(especially after a long day of teaching) and spends his lunch break on his own in the class, instead of in the staff room (with the extroverts who are completely energized by the hustle-bustle of their classes). There is a book I read which may help called The Introvert Advantage: How To Thrive in An Extrovert World, by Marti Laney. It's worth a read. I think it is possible to be an introvert and to teach, you just have to ensure you make space in your day to re-charge your batteries,so that you don't burn out.
I was so glad to read the posts on this thread and know that I am not alone. This is a tremendous struggle for me right now. I work with kids with profound/multiple disabilities. I have 5 students and 2 aides. Love the kids; the aides are another story. One is very talkative and controlling and is about to drive me crazy. I've talked to the principal about moving her just b/c it is such a bad personality fit. She talks about personal stuff ALL DAY and is very offended if asked to be quiet or if you aren't just totally wrapped up in her conversation. She has actually started making comments to the other aide about "people" who don't talk being rude and unfriendly. Now, I assure I'm not either of those things, but I really wish she would just SHUT UP and do her job for at least a little while every day.
Wow! That turned into a vent didn't it? Sorry!! I must say though, I have been teaching for 16 years and I really do like it. I have found that I am happier in smaller groups rather than a regular classroom setting. Have you considered something like a job where you would do small group reading or math remediation? I'm not sure what something like Sylvan would pay, but that has always sounded ideal to me. Some of my introvert colleagues say that doing homebound instruction is perfect for them. One student at a time and lots of breaks b/w while you are driving from one house to the next. Before you give up on teaching, look at some creative options -- you might find something that would be the perfect fit for you. Good luck!
You're not crazy for going into teaching! Students need introverted teachers as much as extroverted ones. Don't forget that there are students who are introverted and are probably finding it hard being surrounded by lots of noise and other people all day, just as you do. You as their teacher can design your class in a way that can accomodate both types. I once student-taught in a grade 6 class whose teacher was also an introvert. You could hear a pin drop in that class as she would not tolerate any noise. It was a little too quiet for me, but she was an excellent teacher and the kids seemed to have adapted well to her style. By the way, is it true that Oprah, of all people, is really an introvert? I thought she was an extrovert, through and through!
I am an introvert, and have been teaching for 10 years. Sometimes the noise does get to me, but I keep (or try to keep) my classroom pretty quiet...kind of like the above post described. I do let my kids talk at certain times during the day, such as snack, but they have to keep the volume low. I definitely need some "down time" and quiet when I get home. In fact, I don't even turn on the radio in the car on my way home!
I am going to check out The Introvert Advantage book mentioned here...sounds like it would be interesting.
I read The Introvert Advantage like mme NPB and I highly recommend it. I learned so much about myself and what I can do to help myself. One of the biggest things I think that I learned was that it is okay to be an introvert and to not wish that I was an extrovert. I have an husband who is an extrovert and is also a teacher and the book helped me to understand him better as well and to be okay with myself. I like being an introvert!!!
It's so refreshing to hear that there are others out their that feel the same way. I love my class and don't mind the chit-chat in the classroom (2nd grade). But, I am often criticized (though gently) for eating lunch (or working through lunch) in my classroom. I go down to the office to check my box at snack and lunch. I participate in the chit chat by the copy machines before and after school. I get along with my grade levels very swimmingly. But, I find that I need those precious minutes of quiet during my lunch (half) hour to recharge and get through the rest of the day. Really, after I trek down to the office and use the restroom (my one trip) the 15-20 minutes I have all to my self give me a little space and time to gather my thoughts, think about what is coming up next, eat a bit of lunch and finish off the day.
The faculty at my school is quite the social bunch ... so sometimes they think it is strange that I "lock myself in the classroom" (their term, not mine). Still, I enjoy the need those few minutes of quiet in my otherwise hectic day!
On the Myers Briggs test, I'm an ISTJ, with "I" standing for introvert. My husband says I'm an "introvert who knows how to function in an extrovert world". :-) People who know me are usually surprised to find that I am an introvert, particularly with all the leadership roles I take on, and leadership awards I've received. I guess to most I appear quite outgoing.
At meetings, I really tend to be more reflective and listen rather than repeat the same stuff other people say over and over. I also LOVE my quiet time and crave it. I don't think about the whole introvert thing while I'm teaching, but there are days I too have angst about having a room full of students all day. At lunch, I love to microwave something in my room and enjoy the quiet. I'm rarely in the teacher's lounge chatting it up, but do my share of socializing to keep connected to everyone, and do enjoy the company of my fellow teachers.
I'm new to teaching, just starting in January, and am so focused on getting my job done and done right, that I don't particularly want all the extra "drama" that sometimes comes with teaching (meaning all the gossip and tales discussed around the copier or in the lounge).
Thanks for starting this thread. I've enjoyed reading others responses and feel like "wow, I'm not the only one!". Personally, I think introverts make darn good teachers! ;-)
I truly appreciate all the feedback here. (I'm the original poster.) It seems that you are all functioning quite well; you have found ways to re-charge, you're comfortable with yourselves and your situations, etc.
Well, I'm NOT coping well. The CONSTANT one thing after another involved in teaching is starting to get to me, and I do attribute it to my personality type--after all, others seem to be dealing with the demands pretty well-why can't I?
It's not that I'm not as intelligent. It's not that I don't plan well, or use shortcuts whenever possible. It's not that I'm trying to do too much--I basically stick to the curriculum. It's not that I have an unusually disruptive group of students or crazy parents (well, maybe one or two-but that's a bargain, I hear). And, I really do love my students and want what's best for them.
I just don't think I want to be constantly surrounded by people and unrealistic demands every single day. I have tried to cope. For example, I do often eat alone in my classroom for some down time, although occasionally the teacher next door will drop in, which is fine-she's a very pleasant person. Also, I have a quiet home life anyway, so that's good. I follow a routine at school. My class is generally orderly and quiet--well, sometimes--not including group work. And, I have a good relationship with my colleagues and with the administration.
With all that, I'm wrestling with the idea of calling it quits--before the year is out. I KNOW I have a responsibility, but my main concern to that end is whether my students would suffer substantially without me, and I HONESTLY don't feel like they would suffer if I left. The truth is, I feel I'm becoming someone I don't like--irritable, impatient, less energetic--because I'm not enjoying teaching. I see the majority of it as a waste of time--grading, paperwork, managing behavior issues, TESTING.... Maybe the next person would offer new enthusiasm, which I don't have.
Have you considered doing something teaching-related such as guidance counseling or special ed or something that is working more one-on-one or at least small groups, rather than classroom? I guess the question is whether the problem is teaching itself, or the fact that you as an introvert are not a good fit with the demands of classroom teaching.As well, there is the issue of it being your first year of teaching. Don't forget that many a first year teacher, introvert or extrovert, has wanted to quit during that year,for any number of reasons. I know of several who felt this way during their first year and have been teaching now for many years. In the end, though, only you can say whether it is that or, whether you really have discovered that teaching is not what you had hoped it would be.
I graduated in December and was hired in January (a large 5th grade was split into two classes), so I've been teaching all of 9 weeks or so. I've felt much the same way...irritated, overwhelmed, losing my patience, etc. The first year is the hardest and so I try very hard to remind myself of this fact. Plus I've listened to others who talk about their first year, and I feel better and know I'm not alone. It's a learning and adjustment phase.
I'm also exhausted and have had more illness in two months (colds, sore throats, etc.) than I've had in years! (and I take Airborne daily!) :-) But, that too is what I expected. So, I'm just trying to roll with it, do the best I can, stay on top of things, and hope that next year it will be a little bit easier, then maybe by the time I've put in 2-3 full years, I'll be more adjusted. :-) Hang in there...it's almost Spring Break!
People would tell you I'm not an introvert, but I think I am more introverted every year. I love the quiet peace of my room but that time is becoming more rare daily. Teaching is hard. The stress and unyeilding demands on our lives is hard to live with. I've been teaching for 8 years. For the past 3, I keep saying I'm quitting. But every August, I start missing the kids, the class, the dynamic environment, and new reasons to challenge myself. Don't give up. The year get easier because you know more. Plus, you may have a loaded classroom. My first year consisted of every kids the other teacher's didn't want, the lowest kids in the school, the kids on behavior plans and most of the kids that belonged to a specific religion that was not "popular". I got through it and have great memories of that year. So hang in there. Give this tired job a chance.
Thank you for starting this discussion. I am an introvert, and because of being an introvert, I have always had problems in social situations. My husband is extroverted, and works in a career that involves social gatherings. I have always dreaded these events- to the point of feeling sick! He has never understood it, and often calls me anti-social. I have 2 best friends that I have known since jr. high, and I have a few acquaintances that I have made through teaching. Initially, I have been told by others that when they first meet me, they think I am "weird" or snobby or even unfriendly because of my introverted behavior. What makes it crazier is the fact that when I am finally comfortable with people, they love my personality- I have even been voted most comedic at my previous school...People who first meet me (and it takes many months for me to warm up) cannot believe this when I tell them!
The strangest thing about me is that I feel right at home w/children. I love children, have a wonderful relationship with my own children, and every year I fall in love with my students - especially the "precious" ones who disrupt, get into trouble, etc. Maybe that is because I wish I were more "out there" like they are. Regardless, like all the posters here, I HAVE TO HAVE DOWN TIME, or I get completely overwhelmed- that has been a problem in my home for a long time because even though my family knows this about me, they still do not understand it.
I have always wished I were more socially adept, and I have had difficulties in life- especially when it comes to job interviews. My introversion (word??) is compounded by being raised my my grandfather who was a Korean war vet, and very no-nonsense, no horseplay, not much laughing type...In addition, when I was 17 and graduated from H.S. I joined the army, so I have this seemingly serious type of attitude...
The only words of advice that I can offer would be to accept yourself as an introvert, but dont be afraid of trying to "adjust" things in your personality, too. It is very easy to want to retreat from the world, and even easier to allow oneself to do so. The hard part is to push yourself to do something - even if it is not in your comfort zone, and by doing that, experiencing a fuller life. Being introverts usually means we know more about ourselves, and therefore understand others a lot better, so by being given this gift, we also need to be able to look at ourselves and determine whether or not a little "tweaking" might make us happier in the long run.
I am finally "getting" this about myself. I am still not very good (at all) in social situations with strangers, but I have been working on it. There is nothing wrong with improving oneself- as long as you dont lose the true essence of yourself in doing so. There is nothing at all wrong w/being an introvert- you just have to find your niche, be happy in it, and accept yourself! (easier said than done- but not impossible !
Again, thank you for the original post, and especially for all subsequent posters! It is nice to know that I (we) are not alone...Our meetings might begin: Hello, my name is _____ and I am a social butterfly trapped inside an introvert...
BTW: If anyone has a magic pill that will turn me into social butterfly...
I too am an introverted personality. It has created many problems for me
as an elementary teacher. I get along with my colleagues. However, co- workers sometimes perceive my preference to working alone as being indifferent. My principal even told me I needed to be more of a team player. I was crushed!!
I too am an introverted personality. It has created many problems for me
as an elementary teacher. I get along with my colleagues. However, co- workers sometimes perceive my preference to working alone as being indifferent. My principal even told me I needed to be more of a team player. I was crushed!!
I have an aide.
I requested a transfer, because I would rather have a class
My aide is easily offended. Today she ran to the principal
and told her I hurt her feelings.
We scheduled a field trip to the park today.
Two other aides told me that they were going to
check to see if the grass was wet because rained.
My aide asked them if they needed her to go,
I told her that I didn't think she needed to go, it doesn't take
three people to do this.
She got offended and ran and told her buddy "the principal."
She misses a lot of school for personal reasons, and because she is a student teacher.
My principal informed me that she didn't want the aide in
my room the rest of the day. This is ridulous in my opinion.
My principal told me I needed to to be a team player,
and marked this on my evaluation.
I prefer to work alone. I love my students and they are learning.
My love for children and learning are the reasons I became a teacher.
I am beginning to wonder if my principal feels the same way.
I am also beginning to wonder if I have the personality to be a teacher.
Last edited by newtexasteach; 04-21-2006 at 06:55 PM..
I find that - as an extrovert - I have a hard time understanding people who are introverted. Dont get me wrong - I don't think you are a bad person or that I am "right". That is not what I mean to say. As a very social person, I often see people who are introverted as those who want to be included but who have not been welcomed. I try to welcome people who are a little reclusive, but I am often treated as if I was a thorn. This was an interesting thread for me to read because I never really understood... I tend to think that being social is being happy because that is what makes me happy! I guess it goes to show that we are not all alike. I have thought before that shy or introverted people were rude because they don't seem to want to chitchat with me. It is eye-opening to see that it has nothing to do with me. Please understand that those people whom you want to "shut up" are just trying to help. They are also acting on their need to be social, just as it is your need to be alone. I now understand that I need not take personally those teachers who desire to be alone. Great topic - thanks for starting it! ~ Note that as I re-read this it seems to come across as rude. I hope no one takes it that way. I typed this to share information not as an attack!
I don't take it that way... My mother is an extrovert and it frustrates her. We introverts often see extroverts as obnoxious and crass. (mind you my 3 best friends are extroverts) Mommy often comes across as rude but like you when she thinks about it she realizes that is not what she wants to be either. She often says I don't get you, But I luv ya just the same. Knowing how she reacts to my persona, makes your comments almost understandable. Actually I prefer to think of us introverts as being laid back. My mom calls me a quiet storm. Quiet is when all is good... The storm comes when I get pissed off!
I found this discussion since I've been trying to decide if I want to teach. It's something I've wanted to do for a long time, but avoided because I've convinced myself that I'm too introverted to be good at it. I'm looking at going in cold to a challenging adult education setting.
What I want to know is: did you have fears like this going into teaching? I'm trying to figure out if my fears about this are something I should be listening to, or if they're just the added doubts of being a (sometimes overly) self-analyzing person. I do think the challenges I face are the ones any new teacher would, but I worry that it will be hard for me to separate the challenges of teaching from my self-worth. Am I just more aware of the doubts and more likely to listen to them? How have other introverts coped with the challenges of disciplining students, being an authority figure, etc?
As an introvert I think you learn to play a role while teaching, and find ways to make your introversion work for you in a positive way. There are a lot more introverted teachers out there than you might realize, and while extroverts may find it easier in some ways to be dealing with certain aspects of teaching, introverts certainly have much to offer the teaching profession.
I am just starting a new teaching job and have had the same fears you have, but I really feel teaching is where I am meant to be. My husband is also a teacher and an introvert and has been able to carve a style for himself that works with his personality. He has no problem with either disciplining or being an authority figure. I think this happens once you have your own students and begin to develop a relationship with them.
I think what is important to realize is that introverts have to know what their limits are and to make time in their day to re-group and get away from the on-going social requirements of teaching. Even though I am an introvert, I love the social stimulation I get from teaching, but I know when I have had enough and have to go away somewhere quiet to re-energize.
As for your self-doubts, I think it is true that introverts tend to "ruminate" or self-reflect more than extroverts. I do this too, but as I get older I am learning to simply recognize this part of myself and to just "let it go" at times.
Good luck with your decision!
Thats me too a T!!!! Its one of the reasons I went into SPED. In the setting I am in I create my schedule. I usually only have small groups of students in my room. I do have to communicate with a lot of classroom teachers but thankfully the e-mail is actually the easiest and quickest way to get a response. I LOVE teaching and making a difference in childrens lives, I just prefer to do it a couple of kids at a time AND by the way I think everyone dreads those faculty meetings, has anyone really gotten anything effective out of them??
I'm really glad this thread on introverted teachers was started. I am in an alternate route certification program, having left a pretty successful career in IT/telcommunications consulting, technical writing, and human factors engineering. So far, I have taught two months of science (all subjects) in a high school for at-risk youth, and four months of sixth grade math and science in an exclusive private school. In both cases, the principals and a large proportion of the other teachers, aides, and students were extroverts, who all seemed to expect extroverted behavior from me, almost without exception. I found myself regularly putting in 12 to 18 hour days and feeling pretty drained, especially with all the noise, talking, moving desks on a linoleum floor, activity, students acting out (with little support from administration), and general overstimulation. I'm THINK I'm still interested in completing the program and getting my teaching certificate. I'm wondering whether there are certain types of schools that might be better suited to me than the ones I've been in. Suggestions, please. I'm an INTJ, an Enneagram 5, and I have degrees in psychology, sociology, and engineering. I can really identify so much with what others have posted here. I know I'm extra-sensitive to noise, but I've been told that I must be able and willing to accept noise in the classroom if I'm going to teach. Is that true? (When I went to Catholic grammar school, you could hear a pin drop in the classroom and in the halls. Does that ever happen anymore?) Thanks.
Hello all, great discussion. I'm also a complete introvert, ex-mechanical engineer and am a HS physics teacher. The story is long and sordid up to this point but I'm not done yet! What's that song - I gotta be me, I gotta be me! Besides, no one else will show the kids "Mythbusters" or "Star Wars" clips. Or play loud obnoxious rock and roll. I found that, hard as it is to see the long term results, building new engineers (no offense to other subjects) is much more interesting and rewarding and downright challenging than building new piping systems for the US Navy, much as I love aircraft carriers. I was basically let go after 2-1/2 years because of classroom management issues and having "no rapport" with the kids. HA! They just didn't talk to the right kids. I subbed and home/hospital taught this year but began to reapply for full time teaching work a month ago. I am trying to find a school in our little corner of the state that will accept me for all my faults - especially since I've happily reconciled that I won't have that nice engineering salary anytime ever again!
I thought it was just me. Great posts. I find I get snappish if I don't have quiet time during the day. I like the kids and being part of a teaching staff, but I'm worn out at the end of the day from all the social interaction. This past weekend I had a busy Friday, Sat., Sun. with lots of family stuff and housework that hadn't gotten done. (Why am I the only person in a household of 5 to notice the trash needs taking out, etc.?) I found I was turning into a shrew with my family. But that's becuase I hadn't had enough quiet time. My husband likes my attention and I find it hard to pay attention to him sometimes when I've had to pay attention to 150 kids. I think, though, that elementary is really difficult because these little guys need a lot of attention and are with you all day. At least in middle school I get them in and out inside an hour and have a new crop of kids. Some kind of balance is needed, not that I've found it yet! Again, great posts.
It has Christian, esp. Catholic references, but is very psychological in handling motivating people of different temperaments and understanding how oparents and kids (probably teachers and schoolkids)/husbands and wives of different temperaments interact with each other.
I am an EFL teacher for a year with no training or experience in the most Confucian nation and still, I get noisy misbehaving kids--a few downright nasty. They behave for the native teachers if the teacher is in the room. If only I had an aide!
I'm extremely shy and introverted in my "real life". However, in front of kids, I tend to be more outgoing and a little bit extroverted. The only thing is, if you want to see this side of my personality, you've got to be under 8 years old .
What's hard for me is putting myself out there and joining other teachers-- staying in the lounge or workroom instead of holing up in my classroom all day, even for lunch (which is my normal inclination.) I have to really push myself to put myself "out there" so that I can be friends with other teachers and make contacts and be connected.
For me its possible to be introverted and a happy, effective teacher. I tend to "come alive" in front of my students. It makes me happy to be up there teaching them. So yes I'd say I am a happy introverted teacher.
I totally agree with how everyone feels! I am a substitute so it is that much harder going into a new classroom every day! It really challenges my personality. I need to read that book someone else mentioned. I wonder if I should keep looking for a permanent job or go into a new field. I was really challenged first when I had my daugther 7 years ago. She is such an extrovert!!! It can drive me crazy! But I also think she will get along better in this crazy world than myself. It would embarrass me when she would go up to complete strangers and get their attention. But I was glad she had those social skills. I am a SpEd major so I hope to do something with a smaller group one of these days. (If Mich. economy every gets on track that is.)