Surviving Teaching as an Introvert

In a profession where all the world’s a stage, a typical day of teaching can feel like a performance of a lifetime to an introvert, especially toward the beginning of a new school year. And while most people are neither true extroverts or true introverts because we all tend to fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, for teachers who lean more to the introvert side, teaching can leave you feeling physically and emotionally exhausted at the end of the day.

For all you teachers out there who lean more introvert than extrovert, here are some tips for you on how to make it through the day.

1. Get to Know Your Students Quickly
While this is an excellent teaching practice for anyone, the sooner you get to know your students, the sooner they will feel like family. Speaking personally, I would much rather surround myself with many people that I know rather than people whom I don’t know.

2. Relish lunch
If you are fortunate enough to work at a school where you have a duty-free lunch, take that duty-free lunch. In the past, I’ve dedicated just one day a week at lunch for students to come in and makeup tests or quizzes, and that works because students still have access to you at lunch, and you get to decompress on those other four days of the week. On those days when you don’t allow students in, do whatever it is that helps re-energize you. Perhaps that means eating lunch with a teacher friend or eating lunch in solitude. Especially if you have a hectic day planned with your students, this quick 30-minute break can help a lot.

3. Arrive at School Early
Similar to relishing your lunchtime, arriving a few minutes earlier than you need to at the beginning of your day can give you a few extra minutes to get things in order and feel ready for the day.

4. Stay at School a Little Later
As a mother, one thing I am always looking forward to is getting home to see my children after a day of work. However, sometimes the transition from needy teenagers to needy toddlers can be a bit much, especially if I am already emotionally exhausted and my patience is waning. I want to give both my students and my children 100% of me, and for me to do that, I need several minutes to decompress and re-energize. The easiest way to do that is to enjoy several minutes unrelated to school does the trick. I don’t advertise this time to my students, but if they stop by to say hi or ask a question, I am more than happy to help them out. These few minutes at the end of the day help me maintain a best-foot-forward approach to both teaching and parenting.

5. Learn to Say No
Unless if it is written in your contract somewhere that you are required to do extra duties, sometimes the best thing you can do to save your sanity is saying no. Now, of course, we all need to be team players, and we should say yes now and then, but consistently saying yes can take a toll, especially for the introverted teacher. It is okay to say no at work.

6. Plan Student-Centered Activities
Planning student-centered activities and striving for a classroom that fosters project-based learning is one way to take the focus off of you and place it on your students. While students do need lecture and direct instruction to learn new skills, they might need less of this than you think. Sometimes ten minutes of direct instruction is all that teenagers will need before they practice the skill on their own.

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