In this lesson, we cover classroom activities for those students who prefer to work alone and find social activities draining. Sample solo and group activities are provided and a short quiz follows the lesson.
Classroom Activities for Introverts
Teaching has long been a profession of extroverted individuals (the sage on the stage, as teachers are sometimes called). Studies have shown extroversion is the more common personality, with up to 74% of the population being extroverts. Making a fair assumption that a performance profession, like teaching, attracts a greater number of these individuals, we can figure that the introverted teacher is a rare breed. Perhaps this is why we often encourage outgoing participation in the classroom, with class participation often being a part of grading a student.
The image of the ideal student is often an extrovert, thriving in the lively discussion and group-oriented activities encouraged by modern educational theory. This lesson will give you some advice on how you can reach the quiet student in your class, the ones who prefer silent reading to group activities or playing with only one friend rather than a lively gaggle of children.
First, what is introversion and extroversion? Putting it simply, the best way to make the distinction between the two is that introverts gain energy through solitary, reflective activities and are drained by interaction. Extroverts are the opposite; they gain energy from interaction with others and often feeling drained by the lack of interaction involved in solitary activities. Essentially, introverts are internally focused, feeling refreshed by quiet and peace, while extroverts gain energy and entertainment by external things, such as groups of people. Also, introversion and extroversion should be thought of as a continuum, with people being thoroughly capable of having traits of both.
For example, gifted students have a much higher rate of introversion than normal. Keep an eye out for these students; not participating in class discussion doesn’t mean the student doesn’t understand the material. Now, on to how to help these students in your classroom learn and recharge their batteries.
These solo activities are ideal for introverted students. When working by themselves they can concentrate better on the material, where they won’t find the forced interaction to drain their energy.
One solo activity is silent reading. Some students see this as punishment, but to others this is a favorite activity. This can be a good activity to do right before lunch or recess, as it then gives some of the more active students a goal for the end of the reading time. The introverted students get a bit of a recharge before lunch, which can be daunting for some of them, and the extroverts have lunch to look forward to. It’s a win-win!
Independent writing is another good activity. Giving students a chance to work in-class on a writing project can again provide introverted students a chance to relax and reflect. Students will have a chance to work on their material, whether it is improving writing skills or working on a paper about a specific subject.
Video lessons are another option. Watching a movie in class isn’t just for substitutes anymore! There are many fine video lessons available and they can make an excellent activity for the class, which helps your introverted students. The lack of interaction with students allows them to focus and really absorb the material.
Another idea is to allow your students to create a time capsule as an independent task. Having each student select or create an item for the capsule is a fun and creative way for them to mix working by themselves and with others.
Game-based learning is another option and to many is the ultimate in introverted fun. There are a number of entertaining and educational games for all ages available on the Internet now, and students can choose the level of interaction they wish to have with fellow students as they game. Based on the age of the students, it may be a good idea to pre-screen the games, however.
For introverts, the inevitable group activity is unavoidable, and it should be that way. Students need to learn to function in all different elements, and group work is a fact of life. However, some of these group activities can reduce the pressure on your students.
Consider small-group projects. Keeping the groups small (two or three students) and allowing students to pick their own groups can help to minimize the stress on introverted students. It may also help to allow the students to spread out to other, quieter areas, such as the library, if they can be trusted to stay on task.
Quiet activities are another option. Group-based work that doesn’t focus on social interaction as much can be a boon for the introverts of your class. These can be artistic endeavors, like painting a mural, or hands-on, such as building models. These activities allow the introverted students to choose the level of interaction with which they are comfortable.
Also consider multi-player games. These can be educational or simply for fun, based on your professional judgment. Board, card, or video games all can allow for a more relaxed interaction between extroverted and introverted students.
Introverts, like all students, have unique needs and deserve your attention. Let’s review some of the basics. Introverts recharge their batteries through solitary activities and feel drained by social interaction. Extroverts are the opposite, they gain energy from social interaction and are drained by solitude. It’s also important to note that not all introverted students are shy, they just have a different preference for socializing. Activities that help introverts in your classroom will be focused on giving them time, space, and solitude. In the event of group activities, try to minimize the size of groups and make sure the activity isn’t entirely geared around socializing.