Committee for Children Blog

Part 2: Teaching extroverts…

Part 1 of this blog was about teaching introverts. In this second part, I will discuss teaching extroverts and their needs in the classroom.

Thanks to bestselling author Susan Cain, the word “Quiet” is not a bad thing nor is being an introvert. She and other experts explain that in this world of noise, especially in our country, being a person who enjoys “Quiet” can actually be a good thing. An introvert is someone who gains his/her energy from being alone. This is unlike an “extrovert” who gains his/her energy from being around others. And, of course there is the spectrum from highly social to not at all.

We have introverts and extroverts in our classrooms and we must strive to understand them by honoring their individual personalities and teaching them to help reach their full potential academically, emotionally, and socially.

This blog is about the extrovert and how you as his/her teacher can adapt your instruction to support this type of personality.

ENCOURAGE constant involvement. A student who is an extrovert may be the one who is constantly raising his/her hand, wanting to volunteer, asking to help out. This is okay. As long as fairness exists in the classroom, where all have the opportunity to participate in tasks, students who want to be involved should not be discouraged. Forget so much the “raise your hand” structure and instead use “turn and talk” (talking to the person sitting beside them), this allows participation from many. Integrate partnerships in reading, writing, and math so these learners have the opportunity to express themselves verbally. The way in which they process learning is through dialogue. If there are not enough experiences for these learners to share and chat about, they may stop participating and lose the joy of learning altogether. Keep them engaged by offering numerous opportunities for partner and group work.

ALLOW room for exploration. Often times extroverted learners need time to just “touch” the manipulatives before the directions are given, or have time to just “shop” for books, or browse the different stationary before making their selection. Allow this time. Another example is to provide time in the morning to be social, check in, and share stories so that they can then be ready to begin their day of learning. This is important to them.

LET them jump right in. Usually, extroverts need modeling (just like any learner) but then they like to “do” right away! Unlike introverts that prefer a plan and direction, explain the task and then immediately let them try, as their questions and make adjustments as they go. Let them jump in!

RESPECT their independence. Many times these individuals enjoy being social, but prefer to do tasks on their own without too much influence from others. They like to start and finish projects on their own. Let them!

GIVE them options. Choices are really important to extroverts. If choices aren’t given, this is where a lot of chatter, arguments, and questions of why we are doing it this way comes up. Giving these students options at centers, whether it is reading books, writing paper, or science project themes helps keep them involved and engaged.

COMPLIMENT them often. Extraverts tend to like a lot more positive reinforcement, publicly. They liked to be the one whose example is shown, or asked to the front of the room to share or read. This makes them feel special and valued.

SURPRISE them. Unlike introverts who like to know what is coming next and how to prepare, extraverts like to be surprised. It helps them stay engaged and excited. They like to learn there is something new on their desk in the morning from “Mr. Pumpkin”, and love the thrill of an assembly. They may even think a guest substitute teacher is sometimes “fun”.

ACCEPT them “as is”. Remember that putting a label on a child is not what this awareness is about. We have all sorts of personalities in our classrooms so being aware that the personality is just one factor that affects our learners is very important. Accepting each one as an individual is most important.

Once again, it is wise to think about your own teaching practices throughout the day. Does your instructional time allow for some whole group, cooperative small groups, and independent learning time equally? Maybe you find you have many children who are extroverts one year, so possibly your structure would change. You may find yourself doing more speaking projects, plays, or whole group cooperative activities.

Remember to also think about your own self as a teacher. Are you an introvert or extrovert? Do you favor one type of student over the other because they are more like you? How do you instruct, provide feedback, engage, and help your students grow in all areas academically, socially, and emotionally now that you are more aware of their personalities? There is so much to think about and learning more about this topic and your learners is a great beginning.