What kind of learners do you have in your class?
Why “Silence is Golden” – for some!
Extraversion and Introversion describe the two different ways people receive their energy. We can all use both; however we naturally prefer to use one more than the other. When we are utilising our natural preferences, we learn with greater ease and confidence
My daughter arrives home from school regaling me with the story about how her teacher had asked a question and she had instantly raised her hand to answer it without even understanding what the question was!
“Wow, were you embarrassed?” I asked. “Oh for a moment” she replied, “but then everyone laughed and I got so much attention!”
Who has witnessed a student in their class like this and possibly found this behaviour ‘air headed’ or maybe attention seeking!
However, this is not necessarily the case!
This is an example of the preferred learning style of an Extravert.
My daughter is an Extravert and Extravert’s learn by talking and interacting with the external world of people, events and activities. These students are very social and engaging, sometimes painfully so! The constant exchange of ideas and thoughts with others and the process of talking these through is extremely important to an Extravert’s learning as this is how they gain an understanding about the work that they receive.
Research has shown that Extraverts tend to respond to questions and ideas using their short-term memory. Therefore, their responses are often spontaneous and not
well thought out, as their answers appear to be on the ‘tip of their tongues’
My daughter and I are both Extraverts and we need to think out loud and discuss any assignments, tests or written material and in doing so we are able to make sense of what we need to write or learn. We are stimulated by the exchange of ideas and the discussion. Having done so we are able to continue with our work in silence… until the next burst of conversation hits us!
Teaching tips for the Extraverted student
It is very important for teachers to recognise the need for Extraverts to work in groups, gather ideas from external sources, look at a variety of topics and give them time for experiential learning. One teaching strategy is to provide these ‘outspoken’ students with a second chance. Allow them time to ‘think’ about their first answer before responding again! Do not take the first answer as ‘gospel’. In doing so they will have time to react on what they have just said and when given the chance to ‘talk’ again, talk with greater depth and authenticity.
Understand that these students will usually jump enthusiastically into situations and discussions without much thought and often put one foot into their mouth only to be followed by the other. Teach them to count to 5 before responding to questions!
Encourage them to stay on task with work to be checked at the end of group discussions. They can often be easily distracted and
distracting for others and without a set outcome, very little work may get done. Life is too interesting!
Do not put a large group of Extraverts together with only a couple of Introverts in the mix, the Introverts won’t get a word in and the elevated noise level will be very stressful for all who are not a part of the discussion!
Once Extraverts have been able to ‘talk,’ get them to ‘think’, put their thoughts on paper and then allow a further discussion time to keep those thoughts rolling.
Do not mistake the Extraverts outgoing behaviour for confidence as they are as easily crushed by criticism, as the Introvert. They need positive feedback acknowledging their strengths and this is best given in front of others, as the attention is as much a part of the reward as the praise!
“I have been in Mr Todd’s class for a year and today he called me James!” This is the dilemma of my Introvert son Jack. Unlike his Extravert sister rather than make his presence felt, his natural preference is to sit quietly and react on the topic taught or the questions being asked.
Introverts “Think -Talk – Think”
Research has shown that the Introvert (unlike the Extravert) draws their information from their long term memory to build more intricate associations; as a result more time is needed to develop their ideas and articulate them. When asked a question with the expectation of an instant reply, their initial answer may be wrong for completely different reasons than that of the Extravert. This is because the Introvert requires time to collect their thoughts and a quick answer may not be their true response.
Students with a preference for Introversion, prefer the inner world of ideas and thoughts, they choose to listen, observe and absorb. They are reserved and take longer to get to know. They like to focus on a few things in depth rather than many different topics like the Extravert and communicate more easily by writing. They may enjoy the company of others but the constant social chatter that energises the Extravert can be tiring. They need a learning environment that is quiet and private. They may be thinking rather than ignoring you as you may have imagined.
The Introvert’s unobtrusive presence in the classroom and their unwillingness to participate immediately in discussion often means that they are either unheard, considered to not be listening or a gem because they are not making a disturbance!
Teaching tips for the Introverted Student
As a teacher you will need to ensure that your classroom environment also embraces the Introvert student.
The Introvert should not be judged on classroom participation and must not be forgotten as they have got so much to give!
Ensure that there is a quiet time during the day for independent learning, reading and writing, allowing the Introvert to process and resolve their own thoughts without interference. My son often brings his work home because he finds the classroom environment too noisy and overwhelming for him to concentrate. Set up times for individual interactions between the teacher and students where the preferred Introvert style of discussion can take place. This one
on one conversation will give them the opportunity to quietly discuss their ideas and feelings. Make sure that this is an activity that everyone takes part in to avoid any discrimination.
Allow the Introvert learner time to ‘think’ about questions before they are required to ‘talk’ about them and then time again to ‘think’ about what has been discussed.
Teamwork is a part of life, and placing Introverts in small groups can help to prepare them for the workplace, this allows them to engage with others in a comfortable learning environment. Wherever possible give them the work or questions in advance, either during class time or to take home to think about overnight and prepare their responses. Like the Extraverts they require a deadline, but for a different reason, if you don’t ask for a response to a question from an Introvert, they may hold it in their head forever!
If you are able to recognise these differences, you can then use appropriate techniques to provide your Extraverted and Introverted learners with an even more ‘preferred’ learning experience!
Who are you teaching? Let’s find out get in touch with Kate via the Contact Form or Email.