Student temperament and personality can play a large role in academic performance. Introverted students in particular are often “overlooked, undervalued and overstimulated in our schools” notes Dr. Heidi Kasevich, a 20-year teaching expert and former history department chair at schools in New York City, including Berkeley Carroll, Dalton, and NYU.
While introverted students are just as capable as those with other temperaments, Kasevich believes they’re often pigeonholed by environments geared toward learning models that favor extroverted students.
The following are some of her suggestions for how to best engage introverted students and facilitate their learning by incorporating methods they may be most comfortable communicating and working:
Have students converse one-on-one or in small groups. Introverted students often aren’t comfortable speaking in front of large groups, so more independent and small-group assignments are great to help them engage with peers and class content without feeling overwhelmed by social and sensory stimuli.
Provide enough thinking time before having students share their thoughts aloud. One way to do this is to have students write down their ideas on paper before inviting them to give a verbal response. This is especially beneficial for students who may have trouble articulating their thoughts effectively on the spot.
Give previews well before an activity occurs. Introverted students may avoid taking risks or feel uncomfortable jumping into an activity without enough preparation time. The more they feel supported and prepared, the more likely they are to engage. Some ideas include writing a question on the board for students to consider before class starts, providing a detailed syllabus or preview of a unit, handing out assessment rubrics before assigning work, and posting a daily schedule or calendar of events.
Allow time to recharge in a quiet environment. Most introverts need a less chaotic, quieter setting to refuel their energy and prepare for another round of schoolwork or socializing. Regular breaks, tucked-away reading corners, and classroom activities that allow for quieter working periods like Think-Pair-Share help introverted students recover without taking away from critical instruction.
If given the learning opportunities to succeed in the ways they’re biologically hardwired to, introverted students will thrive in their classrooms, personal relationships, and future professions.