Teacher Style: How Being an Introvert Helps me be a better Teacher

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I don't think I first realized when I chose Education as my minor how hard it would be for me to work up the courage to be in a classroom with students and interact with other teachers? Sometimes, as an Introvert I tent to hide behind my personality, making it a barrier that keeps me from taking risks and getting outside of my comfort zone, and with that I often loose the opportunity to grow. Just being in college, going to class every day, and being an RA was a stretch, but I learned how to survive as an Introvert and even thrive in the midst of uncomfortable and hard situations. 
Being an Introvert is powerful, but it can often times become an excuse or a crutch to some (myself included). It takes more courage, pep talks, and deep breaths on my end to achieve something that others can easily go and do in the blink of an eye without thinking about all the people, factors, etc. As an Introvert I have a unique since of the world, but I also have a hightened awareness for everything that is going on and working out the logistics for things ahead of time.......It can be a blessing and a curse:)
Someone on Instagram recently asked me if I had any tips for being an INFJ and a teacher and I thought I would take her up on explaining what I have learned along this crazy and amazing journey!

As a teacher (substitute and future teacher) being an Introvert is my biggest strength, but also my biggest weakness......I know, that is contradictory (but INFJ's as people are constantly a contradiction already). I say this because through being an Introvert (specifically an INFJ) I have a unique since of my surroundings and how I see the world. As an INFJ I am titled as an "advocate" because we see things in the world we want to fix, latch onto something in order to change how things are done, and seek to make a difference by inspiring others....that is an INFJ's inspiration for life, but also what makes a GREAT teacher. However, being an Introvert means we can be drained by people, business/stress of life,and confrontation.....also in the job description of being a teacher. 
Thus, being an Introvert can be one of my biggest strengths because I am passionate, want to engage and inspire students, pour positivity into their life and constantly think outside of the box to get students involved. Not only that, but many Introverts and INFJ's are Highly Sensitive Persons (HSP). I wouldn't necessarily call myself a 100% HSP, but I definitely fall into the 50% range. With this I am often hyper aware to things that are happening, the way people are feeling, and notice things that others disregard. As a teacher I have learned that I often notice the quiet students on a daily basis. Maybe it is because I can relate to them (I was them in school) or maybe I see them as having untapped potential that no one knows about. I always notice the kids walking in the hallways holding books, the kid who sits in the corner of the classroom working alone, and the students who are wrapped up in their own world of art and stories, blocking out the loud kids around them. I often call these students "the invisible" because I don't think many other students or teachers notice them or their uniqueness, but I love that I know who they are without even talking to them. Being an INFJ is a strength because I see how I can change a classroom, student ideas, perspective, work ethic and engagement, and when I get freedom in classrooms that is exactly what I try to do. However, being an Introvert as a teacher can also be one of my biggest weaknesses!
I don't necessarily say that it is a weakness that cripples me with fear and inadequacies which keep me from being successful, but it takes soooooo much more work and courage on my end to put into practice all of my ideas and engage with students and teachers. The teaching comes naturally, but the courage takes some work (and pep talks & LOTS of prayer). I also internalize EVERYTHING....all of my emotions so I can easily develop anxiety and tension in my shoulders that doesn't make life fun. I remember when I first started my Methods internship before student teaching (I was in a classroom with higschoolers 2 days a week) and I had to learn to walk through the hallway of crowded students, greet them at the door, interact with them, and positively keep them on task. I had to kind of learn to be an authority figure, but in a good way, and that took some work. That semester was hard, because I had to learn to stay confident (or at least look confident) around high schoolers and teachers (even if I might be kind of freaking out on the inside). However, that feeling didn't last forever! Once I got to know the students and teachers it got easier. The same can be said about my student teaching. This time I was in the classroom with students Monday - Friday. The first week at each of my placements took some getting used to, and took copious amounts of courage and deep breaths, but after the first week I found my place. I made connections with students and they began to accept me, and I was blessed by amazing mentor teachers who encouraged me and made me feel like I belonged! While the teaching atmosphere isn't always the most comfortable for me, I have to remember I didn't necessarily choose teaching for my own comfort, but rather because of the opportunities I have with students. 
As I moved out of student teaching, graduated, and started subbing I tackled a new challenge in being the TRUE authority figure and teacher in the classroom. Many times I subbed for my past mentor teachers so I knew the students, but sometimes I was walking into unfamiliar classrooms with students who were strangers. Subbing was definitely more of a challenge as an Introvert because I had no mentor teacher to lean on and guide me, it was me and a class full of students. It could be hard at times. but through my time in methods and student teaching I had experience and knew my potential. I knew I could be the cool, welcoming, nice teacher, who could enforce classroom management, but I could also be someone to lay down the rules and walk around the room keeping kids on task.
Teaching and subbing as an Introvert (and INFJ) is hard because many times the situations I find myself in go against what my mind wants to be comfortable. I have to STRETCH and CHALLENGE myself every time I get in my car to drive to a job or step into a classroom and being around that many people can be draining (so when I get home I usually hide away in my room for an hour). Despite the challenges it can bring up, it has made me a stronger person. So yes, being a Introvert can be a weakness, but when it comes to what truly matters at times it is my biggest strength and I don't think I would change it! 

Are you a teacher?
What is your biggest challenge as a teacher?
Can you relate to any of the things I have learned?

-Madison 

2 comments

  1. I'm an introvert teacher too and I can relate to the things you say. I also thought it was going to be a problem when I had to face a class with 30 students but I'm able to do it every day and I love it.
    My biggest challenge as a teacher is the fact that every student is different and therefore has different needs. Having to adapt to so many people is quite a challenge!

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  2. I am an introvert and am going to college for elementary education. This post was such an encouragement to me, so thank you!

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