Making Classrooms a More Introvert-Friendly Space

Dr. Rashmi Agrawal

Professor, Manav Rachna International Institute of Research and Studies, Faridabad

In traditional classrooms, we have often seen and feel for introverts—those who prefer to work alone and gain strength from their own thoughts and ideas. Today’s classrooms, i.e. the modern classrooms have been transformed by using innovative models of collaborative learning, a lot of teamwork and discussions with and about the people.

Introverts are those that enjoy solitude and feel drained by social interaction. They are not shy or necessarily social awkward. Finding energy in quiet and solitude, introverts are often left unsupported in the hustle and bustle of the school day. So how can educators take steps to care for their introverted students, young and old? Every classroom has some introvert students who gain understanding from their own thoughts and ideas. By providing a more introvert-friendly space in classrooms, the energy and thought process of these students can be increased manifold. Few ideas to share from my experience are:

  • Sometimes, it is good to reframe the seating arrangements of the students. One example is to provide a corner seat along with some fresh plant for giving room for thought generation.
  • A teacher can create an opportunity for a student for independent learning while designing his/her lesson plan. An introvert may perform best by giving his/her written response.
  • There is no correlation between students’ propensity for verbal participation and grades. Hence a teacher should weigh this while making decisions during instructional and evaluative methodology.
  • Reframe the way teachers discuss working alone or spending time alone. Rather than automatically labelling it “anti-social,” talk with students about how creative achievers often experience breakthroughs, generate new ideas and get more work done when retreating to solitude. 
  • Introverts are generally good listeners. When people talk to them, they know they are being heard. It’s a very appealing quality in a person. An educator can constructively utilise this quality.
  • The response to an incorrect answer should be even motivating and encouraging as the introvert, and shy students feel immoral due to their highly sensitive nature.
  • Introverted children need time to process their thoughts and emotions before they speak. A slight shift in how teachers seek class input can help. When teachers pose a question but give kids a certain amount of time to consider the question before raising their hands to speak, kids learn to think first. This also offers introverted kids a chance to collect their thoughts and join the classroom conversation.
  • The last but not the least important point for a teacher is to avoid the “typecasting” in a classroom.

I will sum with a great saying “Being an introvert is great. Being an extrovert is great. The key is authenticity. Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”  We need to pay that respect to our students too, by embracing them as they are.

Dr. Rashmi Agrawal

Professor, Manav Rachna International Institute of Research and Studies, Faridabad