Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Introverted Teacher

Whenever I've done those little tests about personality (Myers-Briggs for example), I've always scored pretty high on the introverted, as opposed the extroverted side of things.  Which means that although I like being around people, large groups of them make me really tired.  Especially large groups of people that I don't know and if I spend time in situations like this, I really just need time alone to recharge and get my energy back.

One of my friends was talking about it in terms of energy credits.  Like you have a certain amount of energy and some people (energy-vampires) or situations suck up large amounts while other times and with other people, it's neutral or very little.  How does this relate to teaching?  Here are a few tips for Introverted Teachers:

1. Relax in class.  You probably cannot be one of those super high-energy teachers like some of your colleagues.  Students don't always need that.  Sometimes they just like to have a chilled-out, relaxed class.  The introverts will certainly appreciate it.

2. Design your class well.  Lots of students interaction time in pairs and groups so you don't have to be "on-stage" all the time.   Limit the lecture time where there's pressure to be funny and entertaining.

3. Think carefully about OT opportunities.  What will suck the life out of you and leave you with nothing and what will be a neutral?  Small groups or 3-4 students are my favorite and what I usually end up doing.  Ditto with things like checking writing, which involve more brain work and less interaction.

4. Boundaries.  Get them and make them strong.  Limit your office hours and even if you're in your office doing work, just lock the door.  If things like "counseling" exhaust you, make it clear that you'll help students with English related stuff, but not other stuff.

5. Life outside of work: schedule in alone time.  Limit social activities during the week.  For example, I know that I will hate my life if I teach 6 hours and then go straight to a dinner with a big group of friends.  I focus my friend energy for the weekend, when I don't teach.

Check out one of my favorite books on this topic:

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