Encouraging Introverts in an Extroverted World

Our classrooms can be crucial to pupils’ lifelong understanding and appreciation of both extroverts and introverts.

By Linda Fitzsimmons Pierce

Shy child

Being shy is a topic that is currently being addressed in exciting ways. As teachers, it is our job to not only take personal note of those who are uncomfortable with speaking up in class, but also to slowly and kindly encourage them to contribute to their classroom community.

Create an Environment of Understanding and Appreciation

Talk to your learners about the many differing types of people. This is a good place to start for creating an environment where everyone feels welcome and accepted. Begin with asking your class if they know the difference between introverts and extroverts. While the somewhat academic terms may sound overbearing for children, the comfort of putting a name besides loud or shy to a classmate can help with loosening up the labels that are often detrimental.

Discover and Appreciate Famous Extroverts and Introverts

Breaking down labels will begin when you pair up the children in your class and have them do some quick online research about introverted and extroverted qualities. Have the pairs share with each other their findings. Instruct learners to look up some well-known people from the past and present who were extroverts and introverts. Bringing up pictures of these famous people and explaining a little about their accomplishments will intrigue your students. Of course, their choices of famous people will likely differ from yours, so allow time for everyone to share.

 Below are some famous extroverts:

Here are some well-known introverts:

Appreciate Diverse Personalities

Once your class has finished their research, make four columns on a large piece of paper and hang it up in front of the class. Write the following in each column:

  • First column: Qualities of Extroverts
  • Second column: Qualities of Introverts
  • Third column: Famous Extroverts
  • Fourth column: Famous Introverts

Ask pupils from each group to contribute their findings to the list on the board. Do the same with famous extroverts and introverts. Have a class discussion about the people the kids named, and whether they would have thought those people were extroverts or introverts. Be sure to point out that it's important to love and accept ourselves the way we were made. This may sound corny, but it's not. It is very important!

Appreciate Peace

Brainstorm as a class the times when it's important to be loud, and the times when one should be quiet. You’ll be amazed at what you learn and can apply to your daily class schedule.

To encourage peace, have students spend some time quietly drawing. Plant a class garden in the spring. Listen to calm music and loud music. Have your learners listen for the quiet between the notes. Could there be music if there weren't also quiet pauses? Talk about the idea of the quiet between notes contributing to the beauty of the sounds. Also, point out that the notes, like extroverts, work well with the quiet when they are composed carefully and in a balanced way. This same balance is wonderful in a classroom and in life if extroverts and introverts can learn to understand each other.

A quiet walk is a good way to point out the sounds that we miss when there is too much noise in our environment. Have your pupils bring a pencil and piece of paper along on the walk. No one will speak, only listen to what they hear. They will then write down every sound that they hear. Return to classroom and have everyone share their findings. The class will be amazed at how many sounds there are in our environment that we rarely even hear.

Enjoy the honesty of your class as they share with each other who they really are, and how being either loud or quiet makes them feel. We all know that acceptance allows for trust, and trust allows for better learning. Watch your class flourish as they enjoy and accept a balance of noise and peace, loud and quiet, extroverts and introverts.

More Lessons:

We're All Individuals

Using the almanac, atlas, dictionary and encyclopedia, your class will answer questions about themselves, create a collage and share it with the class.

Tell it Like it Is

The personalities of characters in a story are analyzed to see how they affect the plot. Videos show storytellers in action. Learners will observe how they use their voices and bodies as well as their five senses to engage listeners.

Just Sing, Sing a Song

There's nothing like singing to make us happy, and this lesson for youngsters encourages playing with sound and using a tape recorder to make it fun. Eventually, singing a song on the tape becomes joyous play for the kids. Those who don't feel comfortable taking part may watch and listen. Parents are encouraged to bring in a family favorite song to share with all.