I was the shyest kid in the world.
My mother (who was not shy) used to say things like: “Run in there and ask so-and-so for such-and-such,” and I would sit and stare at her with my mouth hanging open.
She might as well have been asking me to flap my arms and fly to the moon.
It was impossible for me to look a stranger in the eye, and form a question.
If I had a dime for every time I heard “What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?” I would have a stack of dimes tall enough to reach the moon.
I’m still shy.
I’ve learned to pretend not to be shy.
But I’m still shy.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because of having just completed the big tour for Raymie Nightingale. If you had told me when I was a kid that I would be able to stand up in a roomful of strangers and talk, I would not have believed you.
But this is the thing: the room is not filled with strangers.
The room is filled with readers, booklovers.
We are connecting through story; and happily, I’m not shy at all when it comes to books.
The above was written by author Kate DiCamillo. If you do not know this author then you are missing out! She writes books for children both young and old, and quite frankly if you enjoy them as much as I do then you can add adults to that list as well! 🙂 She writes the Mercy Watson series for the younger students, she won two Newberry Honor medals for Because of Winn Dixie and the Tale of Despereaux, she won the Newberry for Flora and Ulysses and her most recent book is Raymie Nightingale. Decamillo also serves as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Can you imagine the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and a world famous author being SHY??? Not me! I would never have guessed this about her. She was recently in Charlotte on her book tour for Ramie Nightingale, and I am very sad that I missed her because I already love her books, but to find out more about her as a person would have been a thrill. I can connect to her shyness, as I too am an introvert. One of my first vivid memories as a child was when I was about 3 or 4 years old and a man at our church with a big, loud, booming voice offered me a sucker. I really wanted the sucker, but I did not want to talk to him. He was a very nice man and he often tried to engage in conversation with me and I would not talk to him. I think he thought if he offered me a sucker maybe I would talk to him. My mom, who was an extrovert and knew the man well, thought that I was being super rude and told me that if I did not talk to him and at least say thank you then I would need to give the sucker back. I’m sure you can guess what I did! Much to her mortification, I handed him the sucker back because I wasn’t about to say one word to this man. It truly wasn’t because I was a rude child, it was because I vividly remember the feeling of being paralyzed and not being able to make the words come out of my mouth, so I just handed the sucker back. I try to remember this feeling I experienced with my own children and when I work with students. Just as Kate DiCamillo does, I too, have learned to “pretend” not to be shy as I have gotten older. Sometimes it can be hard though, especially in a school world where I constantly have to be on with parents, teachers and students. Also in this same school world where many of the people who surround me are extreme extroverts. It can often be exhausting. However, I am a connector, and once I connect with someone the shyness goes away and the relationship develops and I do believe that is why the school world is my happy place…surrounded by people and children I love and connect with and deeply respect and honor. I encourage each of you to pull out the personality tests we did at the retreat last spring and remind yourself what you need to be a productive team member and then talk about these as a reminder at your next team meeting. It is always a good idea to remind each other of what you need to be the best team member and person you can be so that you are always supporting and helping each other along the way. Resetting team norms along the way is a good thing so that you don’t get into bad habits. If you do this throughout the year I guarantee you will be saying, “Holy bugumba,”just as Flora and Ulysses do by the end of the year! 🙂 Have a wonderful week!
The Week At A Glance:
Monday, September 26th:
Belnap to the Pines
Walker to Huntersville Oaks
K7 Teacher Appreciation Lunch (grab & go)
Juli at Accreditation Workshop in Greensboro
Tuesday, September 27th:
Thompson to Huntersville Oaks
Wednesday, September 28th:
Sara Keys Teacher Leader
5th Grade to Barrier Island
Thursday, September 29th:
5th Grade at Barrier Island
Friday, September 30th:
5th Grade at Barrier Island
Chris Hoover Teacher Leader (Juli and Marianne at Barrier Island)
½ of 6th Grade to Ropes Course
Red Cross Blood Drive at Middle School 12:00p.m.-4:30p.m.
CSD Homecoming Kick Off Event – 5:00-9:00 at CSD HS Parking Lot
Oct 3rd – NO SCHOOL – Holiday
Oct 4th – Parent Advisory 9:00 a.m. at HS
Oct 4th – Bullying Book Study 7:00 p.m. at K-7 Media Center
Oct 5th – K-7 Staff Meeting
Oct 6th – Love and Logic Parent Workshop 7:30 at K-7
Oct 7th – Elementary Spirit Friday/Kindergarten Teddy Bear Parade
Oct 7th – CSD Homecoming
Oct 11th – CSD Kickball Tournament and Family Festival
Oct 12th – No School; Teacher Workday
Oct 13th i- Love and Logic Parent Workshop – 7:30 at K-7
Oct 14th – K-11 Tentative Picture Make-Up Day
Oct 18th – K-7 Lottery Open House 9:15 & 6:30
Oct 19th – K-7 Staff Meeting
Oct 20th – Love and Logic Parent Workshop – 7:30 at K-7
Oct 27th – Love and Logic Parent Workshop – 7:30 at K-7
Oct 28th – Parade of Fiction
Oct 31st – No School; Teacher Workday
Nov 1st – No School; Teacher Workday
Nov 2nd – K-7 Staff Meeting
Nov 3rd – Elementary Day of Dead Celebration (Spanish)
Nov 3rd – Love and Logic Parent Workshop – 7:30 at K-7
Nov 4th – Elementary Spirit Day
Nov 4th – 7th Grade Africa Day
Nov 8th – Love and Logic Parent Workshop – 8:45 in 6th Grade Art Room
Nov 13th – K-7 Lottery Open House 9:15 & 6:30
Nov 14h – 7th Grade Africa Day
Nov 11th – NO SCHOOL – Veteran’s Day Holiday
Nov 15th – Love and Logic Parent Workshop – 8:45 in 6th Grade Art Room
Nov 15th – K-8 Cyberbullying Parent Workshop – 7:00 in MS Black Box
Nov 16th – K-7 Staff Meeting
Nov 18th – 6th Grade Greek Day
Nov 21st – Davidson Walking Tour – ½ of 2nd Grade
Nov 22nd – Davidson Walking Tour – ½ of 2nd Grade
Nov 22nd – Love and Logic Parent Workshop – 8:45 in 6th Grade Art Room
Nov 23rd – Nov 25th – NO SCHOOL; Thanksgiving Holiday
Nov 29th – Love and Logic Parent Workshop – 8:45 in 6th Grade Art Room
Nov 30th – Band Concert – 7:00 pm at PLP’s new auditorium
Dec 1st -3rd – Christmas in Davidson
Dec 16th – 2nd Grade Art Gallery
Dec 16th – 3rd Grade Charlotte History Performance
Dec 19th – Jan 2nd – Winter Break
Jan 3rd – Classes Resume
From Sarah Hoff: I have updated and published your class lists in Jupiter for the 2016-2017 school year. While grades are not due until October, I need you to go ahead and log in to verify that all information is correct. When you have a minute, please check to make sure that the students in Jupiter accurately reflect your class list. Please let me know if you need a student added or removed so that everything is ready to go when you begin to enter grades next month. Elementary teachers, please also check to make sure that parent email addresses are up to date for each student in your class. Otherwise parents will not receive access to report cards when they are emailed out. (When you log in, click the “setup” tab in the top right hand corner and choose “students.” Then click through each of your students and verify the parent email addresses.) Elementary teachers, you have the ability to change or add parent emails as you check each student’s information. You can make email address changes yourself and just let me know if you need students added or removed from your class. Middle school teachers, I have done this for you since not all advisors are on Jupiter to verify parent emails. Thank you for taking a few minutes to attend to this. Please send me a quick email to let me know when you have verified your class lists and parent email addresses (if applicable).
Teaching Tips with Marianne
In April, Mark Phillips wrote this article for Edutopia that highlighted the importance of recognizing the introvert in your classroom. If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, please do.
It’s okay, I’ll wait.
Phillips most poignant point was this:
I tend to shy away from books that focus on helping a child to “overcome” being an introvert. Although I think it’s important to help introverted children learn to effectively navigate our extrovert-dominated world, I don’t see introversion as a characteristic that needs to be “overcome,” and neither do psychologists.
As an introvert, I couldn’t agree with him more. I don’t see introversion as anything different than being left- or right-handed, boy or girl, naturally athletic or not. It’s a part of who we are, and just like those other qualities, introversion is not something to be “overcome.” In fact, I would argue that as educators it is our job to harness the sometimes hidden gems hiding within our introverted students. To do so, I would suggest we keep in mind the following:
Introversion and shyness are not the same
In her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain makes a clear distinction between introversion and shyness when she writes:
Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not.
The key is how your student re-energizes. If she does so by being with others, she’s an extrovert. If she does so by being alone, she’s introverted. It’s important to realize, however, that introverts are not always shy, and extroverts can be shy. Shy extroverts may appear to not be shy because they are often found with others, but they do so wary of the vulnerability that comes with being public.
Conversely, introverts are not necessarily shy. How often have you had that student who says little, but when she does, she is able to push the thinking of others? Or how about the student who offers a piece of writing that is so profound you wonder why he doesn’t share these thoughts more often in class?
As educators, we have to first determine if the student is shy or introverted. The difference is profound because you are either trying to minimize the pain of a shy student or respecting the process of an introvert — which leads to my second point.
Introverts Need Time
Recognizing that we already don’t have enough time to work with our students, introverts need time to process. In The Introvert Advantage How to Thrive in an Extroverted World, Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D., makes the case that the brain chemistry in introverts is markedly different than that of extroverts. In short, processing pathways in introverts are longer and more complex than the pathways found in extroverts, thus it takes them longer to process information, which causes a problem in our schools.
There isn’t a more time-depended institution than school. Forty-five minute classes. Six hour days. Forty-five day quarters. One hundred and eighty day school years.
In many ways, time is the currency of education. The more time one has, the more one can do and presumably the more one can learn. Of course, our time in school is fixed, so instead of adding time we tend to move through our curriculum faster. We tend to cover instead of discover. This can work for the extrovert feeding off the energy of the classroom but can wreak havoc on the introvert with the slower processing as described by Laney.
Introverts Need Space
Literally. Because introverts re-energize through solitude, it’s important to provide the space needed for them to be alone. While there is more information coming forward relative to classroom space and introverts, it doesn’t have to be too complex. Introvert friendly classrooms provide private spaces for those who need them. In an elementary classroom, it may be a tunnel or a “cave.” Older introverts may enjoy the peace and quiet found in a small couch or chair tucked into the corner of your classroom. It could be something as simple as not seating introverts in the middle of your classroom, but instead, providing a desk on the edge of the class instead. Further, you may be able to assign the introvert to the back row as the privacy may be just what is needed to allow for maximum learning.
But, there is another way we can provide space for our students. Headphones. Yes, why not allow students to listen to headphones that allow them to cancel out noise interruptions from the outside world? Kids do this all the time, and I learned this myself when attending ISTE11 in Philadelphia. After spending much of the day wearing my headphones as I walked around the enormous convention center, someone later told me, “I didn’t think you wanted to be bothered because you had your headphones on.” In other words, she was giving me space.
Asynchronous Learning Opportunities
In her book and this article in the New York Times, Susan Cain talks about the rise of “groupthink” despite the fact that “research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption.” This presents a real challenge to schools as cooperative learning and collaborative projects have become a staple of the American classroom.
This group work can be a challenge to the introvert as the time and space often needed for learning is not always consistent with groupthink. In fact, the introvert may be a pushed out as the extroverts of the group dominate the conversation even if their thinking is not on target.
But there is an exception. One space where groupthink has worked and it is one that schools have been slow to endorse: online communities. As Cain writes:
The one important exception to this dismal record is electronic brainstorming, where large groups outperform individuals; and the larger the group the better. The protection of the screen mitigates many problems of group work. This is why the Internet has yielded such wondrous collective creations. Marcel Proust called reading a “miracle of communication in the midst of solitude,” and that’s what the Internet is, too. It’s a place where we can be alone together — and this is precisely what gives it power.
The asynchronous environments found on the Internet can provide introverted students with the ideal space needed for them to learn. The freedom to explore their passions, the ability to connect with similar learners, and the time to participate at their personal pace and depth, all with the solitude needed by the introvert, can make these communities the ideal space for learning and creativity to blossom in the introvert.
I don’t mean to paint a picture of a student alone interacting with a screen, tucked away in the corner of your classroom, or cowering to the almighty extrovert in your classroom. In fact, introverts aren’t averse to being with people; it’s just that they need solitude to re-energize, engage in deep creative thinking, and process the mass sensory input that the extrovert thrives on. But, since we live in an extrovert-dominant world, we either forget to provide the environment needed for introverts to grow or we consider that environment to be peculiar. Instead we need to begin to create and embrace the environments needed for introverts to flourish. By providing space, time, asynchronous opportunities to learn and acknowledging that introversion is not something to be “overcome,” educators can help natural introverts shine in their classrooms.