Circa 1996. This is my Teensy; my youngest; my Madeline. A toddler, smiling, while her extended family clapped at her newly honed skill of “running” in our huge backyard. She was proud here, much like the day before when just her father and I smiled and sat in awe while she ran uphill, smiling.
The day after, with a larger group, this lasted for about 30 seconds. The next picture (hidden) shows an overwhelmed baby girl, looking for her mother, crying. I bolted out into the yard to snaggle her up in my arms. I was confused about the sudden change in her affect. I only know she needed me to protect her from the clapping, yelling and cheering. I intuited that is was all too much. The noise was too much, but more than that, Madeline did not like all the attention.
Fast forward 1.5 decades: Madeline prefers to hang under the radar: reading, thinking, baking, yoga-ing: minus the make-up and bling that her peers adore. I didn’t understand this about my girl for quite some time. I learned that she prefers solitary time. She dislikes a lot of attention. She wants to read and write and think. This is a private activity that she shares, sometimes, with the people she loves and trusts. I covet the time “that” trusted human is me. I hold it dearly, because I never know when it will be sitting in my lap. Still, nobody is all “introvert” or all “extrovert”. Like everyone else, Madeline is a wonderful blend, loving social time with special people; craving time for reflection. Shy? No. Quiet? Often. Don’t forget: Still waters run deep.
Madeline with friends during spirit week
Knowing your students will allow you to meet their social needs
Some of my Tweeps recommended a book by Susan Cain: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking . I am intrigued. I want to understand introversion better. I love people who seem to fit this profile. I work with people who seem to fit this profile. I may even have been born introvert myself, but the world and experience seems to push everyone to be social; to collaborate and talk. Still, like many, quiet time fuels me. I love working alone.
I also listened to a TED talk by the author: Pretty amazing synopsis of what it is like to grow up primarily introverted in a social world. Listening to this TED talk fueled a conversation on Twitter about collaborative work in classrooms. One of my Tweeps has done a remarkable job of thinking about Cain’s book . Follow this link for a thorough look at what it means to be introverted in today’s classroom.
The need for privacy; the need to seek respite from “social” – is a healthy and adaptive way to negotiate life. I suspect, as teachers, it is our job to know our kids and know what they need to shine. Social learning is great for extroverts, but not everyone learns best that way. While the world pushes us to collaborate, we must also consider that some think and learn best when they can work independently before sharing with the group.
Knowing who sits in front of us in class is the first step toward meeting everyone’s needs.