Most people are of the perception that good teachers are extroverts. This is because teachers interact with a wide range of people on a daily basis. From parents, students to colleagues, a teacher’s day involves a lot of interaction with other people.
How do you stand in front of a class full of students to teach if you lack the confidence? The general perception is that teachers need to be confident public speakers and communicators to be effective.
As a result, most people believe the teaching profession isn’t one for introverts. This couldn’t be far from the truth as introverts make just as good teachers as extroverts. Even better in some cases as introverts are critical thinkers.
Some introverts naturally find it relaxing to be around students. This is especially true when the students are younger than the teacher. Fear of judgment and any other fears vanish when students, you could consider your children are there to learn from your experiences and expertise.
In cases where an introverted teacher is new to a class, it sometimes takes a lot of effort to maintain your composure in front of a new class. Familiarity, however, plays a key role as the fear of public speaking decreases the more time you spend in front of the same students.
Before we delve deeper into this topic, let’s first look at shyness in general and how shy teachers can succeed as teachers.
What Is Shyness
Shyness is defined by the American Psychological Association as the feeling of being embarrassed, apprehensive, or uptight during social interactions, especially with strangers.
Physical symptoms such as blushing, sweating, a racing heart, or an upset stomach are common among severely shy persons, as are negative sentiments about themselves, concerns about how others see them, and a tendency to withdraw from social engagements.
While anyone can be shy at times, shyness can become so severe that it prevents people from connecting with others even when they want or need to. Unfortunately, this can lead to issues in both personal and professional relationships.
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Fears Of Shy Teachers
While it’s not surprising that some students are shy, teachers are seen by most people as extroverts. Anyone can be shy but a teacher’s job requires interaction with people on a daily basis. As a result, most consider the teaching profession a difficult one for shy people.
Unlike extroverts, introverts enjoy the comfort of solitude or one on one interactions. They become uncomfortable in larger groups which makes talking in front of students and communicating with other teachers and even parents a challenge for them. Some of the fears these teachers have include:
Fear Of Public Speaking
Glossophobia, or the fear of speaking in public, is a fairly widespread phobia that is said to impact up to 75% of the population. Some people suffer mild anxiety at the prospect of giving a public speech, while others experience full-fledged panic and fear.
This makes it a challenge for any shy teacher to teach a class full of students watching and listening to every action the teacher performs. This can lead to a full-on panic in extreme cases.
However, most shy teachers adapt quickly to this situation especially since their students are usually younger than themselves. Additionally, familiarity with the students over time makes the process easy for these teachers.
Confidence In Subject Matter Expertise
Even when they’ve studied and passed every examination necessary to be certified to provide instructions to students on the subject matter, shy teachers sometimes fear they may not know enough.
This fear is usually present in first-time teachers of the course. The feeling of inadequate know-how of subject matter becomes another concern of a shy teacher.
Gender Of Students
Let’s face it, students gossip a lot about their teachers. The thought of this can become a problem for shy teachers who sometimes find it difficult speaking in front of the opposite sex especially when their students are at the secondary level or above.
While this does not mean they have some form of attraction to their students, this can become a source of nervousness for some teachers.
Peers/Teaching And Non-Teaching
Shy teachers may enjoy working alone and feel more comfortable by themselves. This becomes a problem in the education field as teachers are unable to avoid working with other teachers.
You’d find a majority of teachers may be extroverts which can make the workplace a source of exhaustion for an introverted teacher.
Educational institutions are full of activities and this can be extreme depending on the size of the institution. This can be a source of exhaustion for an introverted teacher who might prefer quiet environments with little activities.
Pros Of Introverted Teachers
While most teachers may seem extroverted, introverts make some of the best teachers in our classrooms and our schools.
Better Relate To Quiet Students
An introverted student would be able to relate better with students who might also be introverted. The teacher can leverage the experience and public speaking lessons and techniques they implemented to help shy students with similar challenges.
Engage Non-Vocal Students
Introverts are critical thinkers and can leverage this attribute in the classroom. They are empathetic individuals who are able and willing to extend their care to students who need help.
They’re able to determine the personalities of their students provide and assign groups with well-rounded personalities to help non-vocal students learn from their more vocal counterparts during group activities.
Facilitation Skills To Manage Classroom
Introverts are keen observers, able to read body language to better understand people. To understand what others are feeling, they rely on nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, emotions, and interpersonal interactions.
This is why introverts make excellent facilitators, as they can step in and out of the classroom to adjust to the changing learning environment.
Great Organizational Skills
Introverts like predictability and also excel at planning. They endeavor to prepare all their lessons, provide concise inventory, and even make spares available for any unforeseen eventualities.
How Introverts Can Succeed As Teachers
Most household members in internet-enabled communities have an understanding of the relevance of online learning as a result of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Educational institutions that were reluctant to leverage online learning were left with no choice but to implement online learning programs.
With schools integrating online learning into their content delivery, introvert teachers can leverage this to work from home. No more needing to go to school to deliver lessons over and over again.
They can simply record lessons, create tests and administer them to students through the available online learning platforms leveraged by their institutions.
Teachers who are uncomfortable teaching larger groups of students and also interacting with a larger number of students can consider teaching at smaller schools.
Shy teachers can teach at smaller schools where they would only interact with a few teaching staff and also teach smaller groups of classes.
Teaching students at the tertiary level may be difficult for shy teachers. However, teaching students at a lower education level may be easier for a shy teacher.
Embrace Your Introversion
Being an introvert is not a problem to be solved. Embrace your introversion and become a better teacher not because you’re an introvert but because of your introversion.
It’s a component of your innate personality that makes you who you are. You should accept it as a reality to adjust to out of respect for yourself and your needs, not as something to cope with or conquer.
Confide In Another Teacher
It’ll surprise you that other teachers face similar challenges you might be facing. The work of a teacher is a stressful one and every teacher deals with it in their own way, although sometimes as a team.
Simply confide in your principal or administrator about your introversion and they’ll understand why you’re not always in their group events even when you’re invited.
Leverage digital communication avenues (text messaging, emails, messaging apps) instead of face-to-face, when possible, to communicate with colleagues and parents. Simply ensure that these are emphasized as your primary means of communication.
Educational institutions are always full of extracurricular activities including coaching, club leadership, event organizing, monitoring, chaperoning, and more. And while you may try to involve yourself in these extracurricular activities in an attempt to fit in, it’s essential to volunteer sparingly and only involve yourself in activities you’re genuinely interested in.
Learn to delegate some of the responsibilities to the students to reduce the need for extended lectures. You can, for example, assign students to conduct group activities while you observe and periodically offer advice or comments.
This method will reduce your speaking workload while also making your classes more interactive and entertaining. It will also demonstrate to your students that you value their thoughts and are interested in hearing them.
Get to know a few of your students initially before you go to the class. A familiar face will make it easier for you on your first day in class. Additionally, familiarity breeds confidence. The more time you spend teaching your students, the higher the likelihood that your confidence will increase around them.
Now that we have an understanding of how shy teachers can succeed, we can answer the question.
Yes, shy teachers are critical thinkers, able to relate to the needs of quiet and non-vocal students. Spending time in front of their students (familiarity) builds confidence in their abilities and interpersonal skills.