October 10, 2023
While I am only one teacher voicing one humble teacher’s opinion, this open letter is intended for introverted teachers everywhere and the extroverted teachers they work with.
Perhaps you are an extrovert who thrives on socialization, and the idea of social interaction and external stimulation energizes you. Maybe you are an introvert like me, requiring time alone to recharge and rejuvenate. Either way, read this with a growth mindset and humor me as I discuss all the benefits of being an introverted teacher.
Often, people associate the term “introvert” with being shy, quiet and reserved. While there may be some truth to that, introverts are much more than meets the eye. Introverts make great teachers, and here are a few reasons why:
Deep Understanding and Preparation
Introverts are detail-oriented and introspective, which comes in handy when preparing to deliver high-quality lessons, making a rockstar PowerPoint or serving on just about any committee. Put an introvert in charge of “The Harvest Festival” and watch the magic that ensues. We introverts are OK with researching and gathering information comprehensively in the name of education. I may or may not start planning for “March Is Reading Month” in the fall.
No really, I’ll probably start planning for it as soon as I am done writing this blog.
Empathy Is an Introvert’s Middle Name
The ability to actively listen is crucial to understanding students’ wants, needs, concerns and learning styles. Introverts excel at this. Introverts provide students with a supportive and empathetic learning environment, helping them feel valued and understood. Bonus: Introverts thrive in one-on-one and small group settings, which is great for personalized attention and guidance.
Thoughtful and Reflective
Introverts think before they speak, which can have its advantages. This practice allows them to consider different perspectives and respond thoughtfully to their students and colleagues, fostering deeper discussion and critical thinking. A word of caution for introverts: Don’t overthink it. If you hesitate too long, the moment may pass.
Introverts are passionate, action-oriented and skilled communicators — all traits of good school leaders. Once inner confidence is achieved, the sky is the limit. I am reminded of this every time I take the stage, write a blog or lead a PD. I will never stop being “quiet,” but I have found my voice.
It is important to note that teaching styles vary among individuals regardless of their introverted or extroverted tendencies. What matters most is a teacher’s dedication, expertise and ability to connect with students. Both introverts and extroverts have unique strengths that can positively impact their students’ learning environment.
If you are introverted, speak up — do not starve the world of your brilliance. Remember, introversion is not a flaw or something that needs to be “fixed.” It is also not a sign of being anti-social or disinterested. You have different preferences for socialization. Embracing and understanding these differences can help you become the leader you were born to be.
2023-24 Michigan Teacher of the Year Candice Jackson is a third-grade teacher and instructional coach at Mann Learning Community in Detroit Public Schools Community District. She's been in the Detroit district since 2002 and at Mann since 2017.