Listen to episode 59 of the quiet podcast with Chris Abramovich, where we explore the potential of introverts in the classroom.

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Show Notes

The classroom is a place where introverted students may struggle to thrive.

In this episode of the Quiet and Strong podcast, teacher Chrissy Romano Arrabito, author of “Quiet Kids Count: Unleashing the True Potential of Introverts” shares her tips and strategies that will help educators create more inclusive classrooms, foster creativity among introverted students, and help quiet kids reach their true potential.

Guest: Chrissy Romano Arrabito

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Quiet Kids Count: Unleashing the True Potential of Introverts

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Contact the Host of the Quiet and Strong Podcast:

David Hall

Author, Speaker, Educator, Podcaster

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david [at] quietandstrong.com

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Timestamped Overview Part 1:

00:26 The Quiet and Strong podcast is for introverts, hosted by David Hall. Chrissy Romano Arabito, a first-grade teacher and author, is a guest on this episode.

03:17 The writer discusses their comfort with silence, their experience as a talkative child, their unexpected journey to becoming a teacher, and their discovery of their introverted nature.

10:12 The author wrote a book to help others understand introverted children.

15:08 Introverts should be accepted as they are, not seen as weaknesses. Strategies are provided to help understand introverts.

20:20 Introverted kids show great creativity through activities like playing with Play DOH and building with Legos. They pay attention to detail and have elaborate storytelling skills. The editor anticipates seeing how their creativity will evolve as they grow older. Additionally, introverted kids excel in finding patterns and unique problem-solving methods in math. Attention to detail is a common trait among these children.

22:55 Building relationships with students through conversations, offering free breakfast as an opportunity for interaction, soft start to the day, using literature to highlight different strengths, praising students for taking their time, encouraging wait time, building confidence in students.

26:51 Building relationships with students and their families is crucial for success in teaching. Starting the school year by focusing on these relationships pays off in the long run.

30:12 The author discusses their teaching method, which involves using non-verbal signals and wait time for students to respond. They also emphasize the importance of creating an inclusive environment for both extroverted and introverted students. The author also mentions the use of rehearsal mats to allow students to gather their thoughts before responding.

35:34 This text discusses strategies to help little kids practice and gain confidence in speaking, such as using whisper voices, whisper phones, Seesaw platform, mirrors, and small group instruction. The focus is on creating a supportive classroom culture where kids feel comfortable talking to themselves, their peers, and the teacher.

38:46 The dynamics are interesting, figuring out what works best for different situations as an introvert or extrovert. Part one with Chrissy Romano Arabito, part two coming next week. Connect and understand introverted strengths and needs.

Timestamped Overview Part 2

01:50 Compliance vs engagement: Compliance is doing tasks because you have to, while engagement is doing tasks because you want to; Bringing real-world trends into teaching to make it more exciting; Using game boards and interactive tools for more engaging learning; Extroverts are loud, while introverts make great leaders.

04:54 Patience with children, strong leader, introverts have a role, conversation chips for participation.

10:27 COVID has disrupted the classroom layout, which now has students in rows. However, there are still opportunities for group work and a designated quiet corner. The class follows a structured routine with flexibility, including varied morning activities and movement breaks.

15:08 The speaker emphasizes the importance of routine and taking breaks throughout the day as a teacher for early childhood children. They prioritize self-care and recommend against sacrificing personal time for work. Teachers have realized the need to prioritize their well-being, as they are not rewarded for overworking. Taking care of oneself is crucial for long-term health and happiness after retirement.

21:34 The speaker dislikes being on camera and experiencing Zoom fatigue. Also discusses introverted students who feel the same.

23:08 Zoom meetings with enforced camera use during lunchtime are seen as unnecessary control. Teachers prefer flexibility and understanding, allowing students to participate in their own way. Introverts thrived in the online environment, but struggled with socialization when returning to the classroom.

28:11 Teaching builds confidence in kids; sharing strategies helps; striking first reduces anxiety.

30:40 The author emphasizes understanding and accepting introverted children, urging readers to read her book or other resources for more information.

35:45 Please email me at cramano223@gmail.com. Thank you for reaching out. I’m proud of my book.

36:56 Thank you for joining me, connect further at david@quietandstrong.com. Visit quietandstrong.com and suggest show topics or guests. Discuss introvert strengths and needs.

Podcast Transcript Part 1

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:00:00]:

Most people out there not educated on what introversion is and how we can help our kids find their strengths and then support their weaknesses and help to, like the book says, unleash their true potential because we are amazing in so many different ways.

David Hall [00:00:26]:

Hello, and welcome to the Quiet and Strong podcast, especially for introverts. I’m your host, David Hall, and the creator of quietandstrong.com. This is a weekly podcast dedicated to understanding the strengths and needs of introverts. Introversion is not something to fix, but to be embraced normally. We’ll air each episode on a Monday. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite platform, leave a review, tell a friend, help get the word out there. Chrissy Romano Arabito is a career teacher and is proud of it. She is currently a first grade teacher at Nellie K. Parker elementary School in Heckensack, New Jersey. With over 29 years of experience in education, she graduated from Rutgers University, where she studied sociology and psychology. She went on to complete the teacher certification program and earned a master’s degree in counseling from William Patterson University. She’s dedicated to teaching the whole child. Her true passion lies in nurturing the quiet kids, those that truly need a champion to support, advocate for them. She’s the author of Quiet Kids Count Unleashing the True Potential of Introverts. This is part one of two for this episode. Tune in next week for the second half of this great conversation. All right, well, I am very excited for our guest, Chrissy Romano Arabito. Welcome to the Quiet and Strong Podcast, Chrissy.

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:01:51]:

Hey, thank you so much for having me.

David Hall [00:01:54]:

Absolutely. So I’ve been reading your book, quiet Kids Count Unleashing the True Potential of Introverts, which I’m very excited to get into and ask you some questions about it. But before we do that, tell us about yourself. Tell us about your journey in discovering that you were introvert and your journey to becoming a teacher.

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:02:15]:

Oh, boy, where do I start? Yes, I was a quiet kid to some degree, although with people, I guess when I see my friends now that knew me when I was younger, I don’t think they were characterizing me as a typical shy, quiet kid because I wasn’t really shy. And a lot of my, I guess, quiet tendency, I guess when I say quiet kid, it doesn’t necessarily mean the kid that doesn’t talk or the kid that’s shy.

David Hall [00:02:42]:

Yeah, I think that’s an important distinction because introversion doesn’t mean shyness extroverts or introverts can be shy. And we definitely talk about that a lot on the show. Like, when I say Quiet and Strong, it just means I spend a lot of time thinking I was a shy kid. I’m not shy anymore, but overcoming shyness for me, was understanding my introversion and a lot of things that we’re going to talk about today. So, yeah, I’m really happy that you made that distinction, because being quiet doesn’t mean you’re shy. It means you might need some time to think that you’re thinking all that good stuff. So thanks for making that distinction.

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:03:17]:

Yeah, for me, I’m okay with silence. I guess that’s the quiet part of me. My son and I can drive in a car and just listen to music and not talk, whereas my daughter can’t stop talking. She needs to fill the room. She needs to fill the air. She’s uncomfortable with silence. So as a kid, I was a talker, and I was usually one of the first ones to participate and raise their hand and sit in the front. But that was more out of nerves, out of anxiety more than anything else. And that’s something that a strategy, actually, that I teach my kids, my quiet kids, over my years of being in the classroom. It’s a strategy to overcome that is striking first. So when people look back at me, they’re like, Quiet kid. She wasn’t shy. She was always talking. She was always participating. But I think that definition of quiet, there’s more to it than just being the shy kid. As far as my journey to teaching, I know we talked a little bit before the show. I had no intention of being a teacher. It wasn’t even on my radar. I’m the youngest of three and the only girl, and my brothers are significantly older. I was what my parents used to call a change of life baby because they were in their 40s when they had me. I was like, an oops, wow, where did she come from? So my oldest brother was actually already in college on his way to becoming a lawyer. So the thought really was his personality and mine are very similar growing up. I mean, our parents saw that. So he was just like, oh, you’ll be a lawyer just like me. And they kind of paved that way for me until I saw him in the courtroom, and I was like, oh, my gosh, I can’t do this, and this is not who I am. And I like all the behind the scenes stuff, but I didn’t love it. I did it because I felt like this is what my family wanted me to do and the path they wanted me to take, but it wasn’t really for me. And when it came down to it, I didn’t do well on my LSAT. I struggled to get into law school, and then I was like, I can’t do this. This is not me. Which is when I kind of thought, well, what can I do now? And I’ve always loved kids, and I’ve always loved working with young kids. And I just got a job in a preschool, and this is after I graduated from college and kind of didn’t know what the heck I was doing. So for about a year, I struggled there, but started working at a preschool and working with three and four year olds, and I really enjoyed it. And that’s when the director came to me, and she’s like, what are you doing? You are totally cut out to do more than this. And she’s the one who really pushed me to go back to school and get my teacher certification and early childhood. And that’s kind of how I stumbled upon it, which is kind of how I stumbled upon my introversion as well. I didn’t really know that I was an introvert. I just knew I had certain personality traits that were not exactly mainstream and people would comment on, why don’t you chime into the conversation and, come on, let’s go out, let’s part. Like, I was never the party type, never a drinker, never into stuff like that. And I would go out with my friends because they forced me to, and then half an hour, an hour in, I’m like, yeah, I’m ready to go. And then I didn’t want to do anything for, like, three days after that because I felt like it was exhausting for me. So I had all those traits of introversion, but didn’t really know what it was until I stumbled upon something by Susan Cain, who’s, like the Queen Mother of Mean, she started The Quiet Revolution, and she wrote the book Quiet and a couple of other books along those lines. So I saw something. It kind of spoke to me, and then I bought her book and I read it, and that’s when the light bulb went off, which was only a couple of years ago. When I look back, it was probably maybe only five or six years ago, seven, maybe the most. So I’m 53. So I’ve lived most of my life not truly understanding who I am and what makes me tick, so to speak. But it was a huge light bulb for me that I really started to understand why I am the way I am and to embrace it. Because there’s a lot of people out there, they know who they are, but then they try to change themselves or try to ignore who they really are and try to be something that they’re not. So for me, once I really understood it, it was a huge light bulb moment, and it made me think back to my relationships with my friends. And at that point, I was already divorced from my first husband, well into a marriage with my second husband. We’re married almost 20 years now. But just thinking about all the dynamics of all my relationships and a lot of stuff just started to fall into place and to really click and help me understand. And once I did, I totally fully embraced my introversion and stopped making excuses or trying to be something that I’m not, and I’m just a much fuller person than I was before.

David Hall [00:08:45]:

That’s excellent. And it sounds like that there was a lot of things you understood for most of your life, but you still couldn’t put a name on it from talking with you before and now, there was a lot of things you were doing in the classroom. There was a lot of things you were doing with yourself, but you mentioned quiet was one of the things that really helped you put a name on it. And again, we’re all different, but if we could understand how we work and we’ll both say this is a very natural way of being, and it’s there to embrace and not to try to change yourself, because I know I’ve tried to do that. I’ve tried to be something I wasn’t. It didn’t work out very well. It’s often very draining to try to be something you’re not. And it’s also exhausting. Yeah, it’s exhausting, and it’s not very effective. But when you understand who you are, what you need, what your strengths are, you can really excel at what you’re doing. And I love that you’re doing this in the classroom, because, again, if kids can feel early on that they have great strengths, but they also have needs, that’s amazing because there’s so many kids that and I was a quiet kid, too, like I was saying. And there’s so many kids that don’t understand who they are. They’re not reaching their potential, and they feel bad about themselves often. So, again, I’m excited to get into the book here.

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:10:12]:

So that was actually one of the reasons why I wrote the book in the first place, because I didn’t recognize until much later in life that I am an introvert, but I really wrote it for my son. And that’s where the whole inspiration came from, was that he different kind of an introvert than I am. He definitely is a shy introvert, extremely quiet, always was. From a little boy, from a child, from a toddler, even. And as I saw him grow up and start preschool and then go to school, elementary school and so on, I really noticed that. We saw the wonderful Christopher, that everything, his full range of who he was at home, but when he was out in public and at school, not everybody saw that, and they did try to change him. And the comments from teachers during parent teacher conferences are on report cards, and he needs to participate more, and he needs to talk more in class, and all sorts of things that I at one point was guilty of writing those things as a teacher. And those of you that are listening that have kids that are introverts and maybe you’re not, and you hear those things, it’s common. It’s a common thread that we hear when you see these shy, quiet kids. They have to talk more, participate more. So I felt like I wanted people to understand him better. Not just him, but all the quiet kids out there. And that was really my whole inspiration behind writing the book. It wasn’t to and a lot of people, you know, you want to make trust me, you don’t make money writing books. You really don’t. Unless you’re like J. K. Rowling and Stephen King. You’re not in it for the it’s. It’s one of these things that I feel like every teacher should have. It’s a book that every teacher should have. Parents of introverted kids should read it to help them understand their kids. Yeah. I mean, I appreciate you when you reached out and you were like, I love your book. I was like, awesome. Somebody’s reading it. Somebody’s getting something out of it and putting it out there for more people to learn. I think that’s really the thing is most people out there are not educated on what introversion is and how we can help our kids find their strengths and then support their weaknesses and help to, like the book says, unleash their true potential because we are amazing in so many different ways.

David Hall [00:12:59]:

Yeah. While I was reading it, I was thinking pretty much anybody could benefit from this book because it’s definitely for teachers, both introverted and extroverted teachers. And you’ve got some strategies at the end of each chapter which are amazing. You have some different activities that can be done in the classroom, and we’re going to get more into this. But even as adults, I’m not a teacher. There’s things that you can get understanding yourself, your kids, or in my book my sister read my book, she’s an extrovert, but she says, man, this helped me understand the introverts in my life. She has introverted children, so I think it’s for everybody. And so hopefully we’ll get some more books out in the hands of people.

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:13:49]:

That’d be great.

David Hall [00:13:51]:

So this show is definitely about talking about strengths and needs of introverts, some strategies for success, but also I like to bust a myth or two each episode. So is there a myth or two that you want to bust about introversion?

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:14:08]:

Yeah, well, there’s a few, but I’m just going to pick, I guess, the top two. So one that I hear a lot is that introverts don’t like to talk or that they’re shy, and that’s really a myth. The shyness is usually situational. From what I’ve seen in my experience, not only me and my family members, my son, but just I’ve been a teacher now for almost 30 years, and I’ve seen it in every classroom. Situation. When introverts are comfortable, the shyness goes away. When introverts are talking about something they’re interested in, they can talk a blue streak. And I’ve seen that across the board. Again, it’s situational, and I think that people have to recognize that. But I think the biggest myth that I like to dispel is this idea that we’re broken, that there’s something wrong with us, that we need to be fixed. And you mentioned it earlier, and I don’t remember if it was before we clicked record or not.

David Hall [00:15:07]:

Right.

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:15:08]:

But that introverts should come out of their shell. Like I said, we need to be fixed or there’s something wrong with us. And I think that’s something that is important for people to understand that this is the way we’re wired. Really, if you study the science behind it, it has to do with our neural pathways and the way we react to stimuli. And it’s not by choice. I mean, this is really who we are and how we were born and how we relate to the world around us, which is a very outrageous and noisy world. So trying to find a place for us quiet people to fit in can be tricky. So accept us for who we are. Don’t try to change who we are just because we’re quiet or maybe introspective and observant and good listeners. Those are all fantastic strengths and shouldn’t be seen as weaknesses. And if there’s one thing I can implore to teachers and parents in particular with your introverted students and children, is just accept them for who they are and help them grow and grow into more confident children and teach them how to embrace their strengths. Not to ignore their weaknesses because everybody has them, but point them out in a nice way, in a nurturing way and then give them strategies to build upon those so they’re a little bit more balanced. And that’s one of the things I liked about the structure of this book when I started working with Mark Barnes in Times Ten was that not only did I call attention to what introverts are really like, but I put strategies in here and actual actionable things that you can do as an adult, as a child, as a parent, as a teacher to help better understand what introverts are all about.

David Hall [00:17:23]:

I love that and it’s just like you said, we’re wired differently. But there’s such great power in that because we are deep thinkers. We need some time to think. And that was a big epiphany for me is just realizing, you know what, I’m never going to just talk nonstop because I’m going to take the time to think and some people are talking nonstop around me and that’s okay. They have great strengths. I have great strengths, but mine aren’t going to change because as we’re talking about, it’s very natural and that’s leading into what I was going to ask you next anyway. So what would you say is a strength or superpower of yours as an introvert?

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:18:09]:

Two things kind of come to mind is I’m a good listener. I just kind of sit back and take it in. Whereas I see with some of my extroverted friends, they’ll listen to a piece of what you’re saying and then they’ll kind of jump in trying to want to solve the problem or offer their two cent where I’ll just sit back and listen. Oftentimes where people are like, hello, are you still there? Did you nod off or you’re with me? And I’m like, yeah, I’m just kind of taking it all in. And then I guess the other one is being very observant. So not only being a good listener, but I pay attention to, I guess, a lot of the details in things. And as a teacher, especially with young children, I’m working with first graders now. It helps to just stop and observe and just sit back and watch and, you know, see how kids interact with other kids and kind of lean in and listen to their conversations when they’re working together, when they’re having breakfast, you know, when when they’re working in a center together with one another. And then just kind of sit back and watch the kids that sometimes choose to when they have options to choose to work alone, or kids that repeatedly ask to use the restroom kind of at the same time every day. And then when you sit back at some point in time and have a conversation with them, you figure it out. They really just need a break to get out of the classroom. They just need a minute to themselves. So I think being a good listener, listening when people are talking and kind of seeing what they’re really saying, not just on the surface, but kind of paying attention to everything and just being observant, I think those are two strengths that I’ve recognized over the years that has definitely helped me as a friend, as a partner, like, as a spouse and as a partner and a teacher, a parent, and kind of all aspects of my life.

David Hall [00:20:11]:

Yeah. Are there other strengths, maybe a strength or two that you’ve seen in your students that they get from their introversion?

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:20:20]:

Yeah, I think a lot of my introverted kids tend to be really creative in all different ways. So with my little like my younger kids, like when they’re playing with Play DOH or they’re building with Legos, when they have some quiet time to themselves, some of the things that they come up with are amazing. And then the stories behind what it is and they’ll come up and say, Look, I made this. And then they’ll kind of just go on and on with a story or their artwork, like creative in that way. And a lot of it is because there’s attention to detail, which is that observant piece, kind of I guess that when they tell a story, it’s not just like an overview. They really go into detail with all the little things that are happening and what they’re saying to each other and where the story takes place. And I can’t wait to see them because they’re little now where they can’t really write all that stuff down. Like if they had a microphone, they could definitely tell the story. They’re good storytellers, but I would love to see how that translates when some of these kids get older and they’re actually able to put all of their creativity on paper, so to speak. And then that attention to detail I’ve noticed that as well, that kids that find patterns in math, like things or ways of solving problems that I would not necessarily think of, or the average person, the obvious answer. They kind of sometimes always find things that are a little deeper, a little more hidden, and you’re like, oh, wow, I never thought of that one. Because it wasn’t the obvious one. But of course it’s a great way to solve the problem or to add to the conversation. But I think that all goes back to being really observant and attention to detail. And it’s funny, when I wrote my book, that’s one of the things that when the editor did the first pass, she was like, wow, you give a lot of detail already. I said, yeah. Who I am.

David Hall [00:22:19]:

Yeah, I’m glad that you did. Kind of a little contrast because we’re not all the same introverts, but the fact that we think and think deeply, there’s a lot of great strengths that come from it, but no two introverts are going to be exactly the same. We share in common that the love of ideas and the time we need to go inward, that kind of thing. So how do you help students understand that they have strengths where somebody else might not might not see who they are as having strengths?

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:22:55]:

So I think a lot of that is just from connecting with kids and building relationships with them. That’s the start, having conversations with them. One of the things, like in the district that I work in, that I have worked in for now over 20 years, the kids get free breakfast in the morning. So that gives an opportunity for them to kind of come in and unwind. And we get off to and I’ve always done this throughout the years a soft start to the day. So I’m not one of those teachers that you got morning work sitting on your desk waiting for you. My kids come in, they eat breakfast, some of them color, some of them watch videos, some of them pull out the Legos. Some of them just sit and talk with their friends for a good, like 25 minutes before we actually jump into like, all right, let’s start our day. So that’s my opportunity. Once I take attendance and do lunch count and all that housekeeping stuff, I go around and I sit with them and I just talk with them or sometimes just listen in and kind of get a feel for how they interact or the dynamics between kids. And that’s when I’m able to start building connections with them. And then it grows from there. And once kids get to know you and trust you, you can offer that feedback. And that’s one of the things I always do. So like I said before, if somebody comes up with an answer that’s not one of the obvious ones, I’ll say that like, wow, that’s great. You really took your time thinking about that. And that’s amazing that you went into this direction or you saw this and pointing things out. I’ve always been a fan of literature, so I’m a bookworm. I always have my nose in a book, always have since I was a kid. Getting lost in other worlds and reading it was my escape. And that’s one of the things I bring into my classroom. Even when I was a middle school English teacher, I made a point of making sure the protagonists in our books, the main characters, had different sorts of strengths as well. So I would pick on books where sometimes the main character was an introvert. They wouldn’t call it an introvert, but you could see just from the traits that they were a different sort of character. And I do that also with my younger students, with the picture books that I choose. So every year I always read. There’s one in particular that I love called The Invisible Boy, and it’s about this quiet little boy that kind of is treated as if he’s ignored, as if he is invisible because he’s this quiet, introverted little student until he starts working with other kids in the class on a project. And the other kids are like, wow, he knows things and he sees things differently and he’s creative, and then they start to see him for who he really is and the strengths that he brings to the table. So I try to use literature, definitely praising kids for taking their time. That’s one of those things. And I know we’re going to talk about that later, this whole concept of wait time, but the kids that are blurting out answers, I’m like, yeah, that’s great. Yeah, absolutely awesome. I said, but let’s give other people a chance. And we sit and we wait. And then the hands start to pop up or you see some like the light bulb will go on and you call on a student and then they have something to share and you’re like, wow, that’s great. And I saw that it took you a little bit more time to come up with that answer. And that’s something we all need to start to do, is to think a little bit before we rush to respond. That sort of stuff, I think, helps build confidence and point out the strengths.

David Hall [00:26:35]:

Yeah. And the connection piece, when I was reading your book, that just hit me, and I think you talked about that it was something over time, you learned to invest more time into that. You realized how important it was.

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:26:51]:

Yeah. So for me and I always catch black for this from administrators. I always have. And I don’t care, because I find that it’s so important is that the first three weeks of school I really focus on building relationships in the classroom. Not just with me and the kids, the kids with each other. Building relationships with families, with parents, with siblings. And we do a lot of work around that, and especially when you’re teaching younger grades. K twelve. And even back when I was in pre K, you’re not just teaching the kid, you really become a part of the family to some degree, and you have to build relationships with them because they’re part of the team, the learning team. I say that all the time. It’s the parents, the kids and me as the teacher. We’re all working together to help your child be successful in school. So people have I’ve always had comments, well, when are you diving in? Like, why didn’t you start this yet? I go, I’ll get there. I’ll get there. Trust me. When kids like you, they’re going to want to learn from you. When you have relationships with kids and you can read them and they can read you, and you kind of pay attention to the little nuances of their personalities and their moods and their emotions, it’ll get you further down the road if you take the time and invest the time in that at the beginning of the year. And it’s been successful for me, and then eventually my kids listen. Not to say that every single kid is a rock star across the board. That’s not always the case. But I do start to see, like, once January rolls around, it’s like, boy, they’re cooking with steam. They’re really picking up on things. And we’re really ready to take off, usually right after Christmas break, because I spent so much time building that foundation with them.

David Hall [00:28:43]:

Yeah. And again, that’s amazing. A myth I want to bust is especially over the pandemic. People talk about, oh, well, introverts, they’re fine alone, but we all need connection, period. Introverts, extroverts. We all need people. We’re humans. It can definitely look different. But again, when I was reading your book, I just love how you made a point that you were investing time in that connection and building that relationship and helping to get to know that child. And that’s just really important. So you’re definitely doing some great work there.

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:29:19]:

Thank you. I try. Also, I think part of that is the counselor in me. I do have a master’s in counseling.

David Hall [00:29:25]:

Yeah.

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:29:25]:

So I don’t always wear the teacher hat, but I’m a mom of two kids, one being an introvert and then also that counselor piece. So I kind of wear a lot of different hats throughout the day in the classroom in an effort to better serve the kids and the families that we work with.

David Hall [00:29:47]:

Yeah. So you were just talking about in the book, you call it wait time. You were just talking about this. So often people are afraid of silence. A teacher asks a question, and it’s expected that you just answer right away. And if nobody answers, then the teacher just starts talking. You know, definitely for introverts, we need a little bit of.

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:30:10]:

Do.

David Hall [00:30:11]:

What’s your strategy there?

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:30:12]:

So I. Learned about way, way back. I mean, I think that was like a Harry Wong thing way back when I was first starting teaching. But I feel that he used to always say, I don’t know, something like 10 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds. I don’t think that’s even long enough. So what I’ve tried to do for a long time now, I mean, well over 1520 years in the classroom, we don’t raise hands in the traditional sense in my classroom. So depending on what I’m teaching, middle school or little kids sometimes, so I’ll pose a question, or if we’re doing I teach everything right as a first grade teacher science, math, reading, writing, all of it. So depending on what it is, whatever prompt it is I’m trying to elicit a response from, I’ll either ask the question or pose the math problem. And then my kids don’t raise their hands. They either put a hand on their shoulder when they’re ready to respond, or they put a hand on their head or they give me a thumbs up or I don’t know. We come up with different signals, silent signals, really. But there’s always that wait time, because, like I mentioned before, I’m totally cool with silence. It does not freak me out. I don’t feel like I have to constantly fill time with words. And my kids learn that pretty quickly. And the kids that are ready to respond and blurt out answers, we work on those kids really fast, and those are the ones that and there’s always two or three in a class that you have to take aside. Usually I’ll invite them in for lunch, and I’ll say, Lunch with the teacher, and let’s come and sit. And so the two or three of us sit together, and we talk about how they’re always quick to respond. But there’s other kids that want a little bit more time or need a little bit more time to think, and we want to be fair to them as well. Because one of the things, like I mentioned before, like introverts aren’t broken, neither are extroverts. But we do live in an extroverted world. So my philosophy is sometimes you need to stop and teach the extroverts how to be more respectful of the introverts in the room. It shouldn’t always be the other way around. The quiet kids should not always try to feel like they need to fit in with the extroverted world. Sometimes those extroverts need to take it down a notch, hold their tongue from time to time and leave space. Not always take up all the space in the room, but leave some space for those quiet kids to feel like there’s a place for them. So that’s something I do without fail every year. So the idea of wait time is you definitely oppose your question and you wait. And if you’re uncomfortable with the silence, you need to just figure it out, and you need to become comfortable with the silence and tell the kids, I’m going to give everybody a minute here’s. A minute, solid minute. And a minute is a whole lot longer than you think. And when you think you have the answer, think a little bit more and maybe you can add a little something to that. And when you think you’re ready to respond, again, put your hand on your head, tug your ear, put your finger on your nose, depending again what grade level you’re teaching. With little kids, we make it fun. With older kids, it’s usually hand on a shoulder, hand on a head. I don’t know, thumbs up on your desk, something because they don’t want to look silly. They’re not cool with that yet. And then the other thing is, I use something called rehearsal mats that are think mats. I’m sorry, it’s part of this rehearsal time, really, which all fits into this wait time. But think mats where kids either have a whiteboard in front of them or a piece of paper where they have the opportunity. As they’re formulating their response, they’re jotting down their notes. With the little kids, we use a whiteboard so they’re able to jot whatever it is down. And then I say, okay, when you’re ready, again, put your hand on your head, thumbs up, or hold up your whiteboard or whatever. And then they have the opportunity to share. And there it is. It’s all right in front of them, the younger they are. Sometimes it’s pictures, sometimes it’s symbols, sometimes it’s short sentences, but words, but something where they have the opportunity to gather their thinking before they have to blurt out a response. Does that answer your question? I think that’s what it was, right?

David Hall [00:34:20]:

Yeah. That’s great. And that’s part of this whole thing. Some episodes I have guests, some I do on my own. And the solo episodes, guess what? I write them out. I get my thoughts out there, and that’s so important. And we were talking a little bit before the show about participation and how there’s so much weight on that and how it’s misunderstood sometimes. I know I had that in college. There were points for participation, and often I wasn’t ready to participate. And I learned in college, I learned that if I actually read the book ahead of time and that kind of thing, that I could do really well and participate. And you said you had a strategy where you spoke first and that kind of thing. Now, I know this may be different for first graders, but how do you help them realize, hey, you need to prepare? And I think you demonstrated one strategy already where you talk about how they could write their thoughts out first. But how do you teach them at a young age that preparation is part of their key to success?

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:35:34]:

A lot of it is just the idea of rehearsing and practicing lots of little things. So we use whisper voices in first grade. So before they have to maybe share a response with the class, they use their whisper voice and they talk to themselves and they just kind of whisper out the answer to kind of see how it sounds. Like that they can get the words out. We do have whisper phones where there’s these little phones that the kids put up to their ear and as they talk into it, they can hear their own voice. So we use Seesaw, which is a platform that a lot of people now because of the pandemic, they were like, wow, Seesaw is fantastic. But it’s an opportunity for kids to share their thinking and share their learning in different ways. And one of them has them taking little selfie videos where they use the microphone and the little video camera. But I always tell them, you need to practice first. So we do that. We have little mirrors in the classroom where they hold up the mirror. They make sure they can see themselves in the mirror. They go over there and they’re able to practice responding or telling the story, whatever it is, explaining their math problem or telling the story. Again, this is for little kids. So I guess the whisper voice and even turning and practicing with a partner. So it’s not always that kids feel that they’re like nerve wracked before they talk in front of a whole group. Yeah, that’s the case. But sometimes they’re okay turning and talking to each other or even turning to the teacher. So I do a lot of I just walk around and kind of put my ear in, and sometimes I say, so just say the answer out loud. And I’ll walk around and I’ll listen. And then I’m able to pull things out and say that I heard this and I heard this and I heard this. And the kids know it’s something that they said, but you’re not calling their name. They’re not calling out loud. Very different than what you see, like in middle school and high school and even college. I mean, it’s amazing how I don’t know the crazy different strategy you can do with little kids because there’s really not a lot of self consciousness at that age. And they’re okay just sitting there, like, talking to themselves and saying something out loud. And they don’t think it’s weird or awkward because it’s the culture you create in the classroom. So I’ll say, okay, turn and talk to your buddy. What did you think of this answer? Or what would you do in this situation? Or how would you solve this math problem? And then they talk to each other and I walk around and I listen in, and then I pull things out and then share as a whole group as opposed to everything being a whole group all the time. The other thing is, when we teach little kids is we do a lot of small group instruction there’s very few things that we do as a whole group. So while I’m working with three or four kids in front of me at a table, the rest of them are doing other activities. So in that case it’s a whole lot easier. Kids are way more comfortable talking to me with just three other kids there than they are in front of a group of 20. So I’ve shifted most of my instruction to small group. So when we’re sitting there it’s like you see a whole nother side of the kid than you would if they were sitting in a group of 20.

David Hall [00:38:46]:

Yeah, the dynamics are very interesting. And as an adult professional, you have to also figure out, okay, what works for me in this situation. Is it a one on one conversation? Is that the best for this or is it a small group or would the large group be I mean those are lessons know we all need, but we have different definitely preferences being an introvert or extrovert and that’s great. Thank you so much for joining me for part one of two with this amazing teacher, Chrissy Romano Arabito. Join us next week for part two. I look forward to further connecting with you. Reach out@quietandstrong.com or email me at david@quietandstrong.com. I’ll add social media channels for me and my guests to the show notes. Send me topics or guests you would like to see on the show. There’s so many great things about being an introvert and we need those to be understood. We need to have conversations about the strengths and needs of introverts, get to know your introverted strengths and needs and be stronger.

Podcast Transcript Part 2

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:00:00]:

If you’re an introvert, understand what you are all about and embrace that and learn to love that part of who you are so that you can love it in your kids and not want to change them and extroverts the same thing. Learn whatever you can about introversion and really see your kids for who they are and help build them up and help focus on their strengths and help support their weaknesses and help them understand that are wonderful the way that they are, despite what society may say and advocate for them and be their cheerleader.

David Hall [00:00:40]:

Hello and welcome to the Quiet and Strong podcast, especially for introverts. I’m your host, David Hall, and the creator of quietandstrong.com. This is a weekly podcast dedicated to understanding the strengths and needs of introverts. Introversion is not something to fix, but to be embraced normally. We’ll air each episode on a Monday. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite platform, leave a review, tell a friend, help get the word out there. We started a great conversation last week with Chrissy Romano, Arabito teacher and author of Quiet Kids Count Unleashing the True Potential of Introverts. Her book is full of information and strategies to help introverts engage in the classroom. I highly recommend this book for anyone parents, teachers, adults, whether introverts or extroverts. Let’s continue the conversation. Now, something else that struck me in the book you talked about compliance and engagement, and often our system is built around compliance and rewarding that, but you’re saying what you really want is that engagement. And then the second part of the question is what does engagement look like for an introvert and an extrovert?

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:01:50]:

So I guess the idea for people just to understand the difference between compliance and engagement, I guess in my mind, compliance, you’re just checking off the boxes. You’re doing it because you have to do it. You’re doing it because it’s going to get you the A, it’s going to get you the better grade. It’s because Mommy told me to, it’s because dad said if you don’t, you’re getting detention, you’re getting grounded, or that sort of thing. I mean, that’s the way I was raised, to be honest. I went to Catholic school, kindergarten through twelveTH, and I was raised being compliant, and I was pretty damn good at that. You give me a checklist that I will do everything and check off every box. Not because I love it, because my heart’s in it, because I want to do it. It’s because I felt like I need to, I have to. Introverts are really good at that, checking off those boxes to do what we need to do. We tend to be organized and ritualized and use routine. It’s a comfort for a lot of us. But engagement is really doing things because your heart’s in it, because you want to do it, because you’re so excited about it. So yeah, there are definitely things that in a classroom, kids have to do. You have to make sure they’re doing it. That’s the compliance piece. And listen, it’s a part of life. We all have to live with that. It’s not the best, but it’s just what you have to do. But I try to give kids the opportunity to be more engaged in learning and trying to make it a little more fun. And it’s different depending on what I’m teaching and what grade level I’m in. But I try to bring trendy things things are happening in the real world into the classroom to make it more exciting. I mean, I remember back when flipping bottles was a thing and when I was in fourth grade, teaching ratios in math and things like that, we did a whole contest like that. So trying to bring a little bit of current life in, like now. Little kids love those little poppets. Oh, they drive me insane. I personally can’t stand them. But when you’re trying to teach kids how to read and how to break down words and syllables and phonemes, they need to be able to break those things down. So we use little poppets. And I got to tell you, they are extremely engaged using game boards, turning things, learning into a game where they’re rolling a dice or spinning a spinner and moving little pieces on the board. They’re learning. They’re doing all the things they have to do to be compliant and to hit those checklists, but they’re doing it in a more engaging way. So what does it look like for an extrovert? Usually it’s the I have the raising their hands. They’re usually loud. They’re jumping in. They’re blurting out. They’re controlling the small group. They want to be the leader. They’re the ones that has their hands in everything all the time. Introverts, it’s a little bit different. They make awesome leaders. I’ve had many people throughout my years in education say, why did you not go on to be an administrator? Why are you not taking a bigger leadership role? And it’s just, first of all, I like working with kids, and I have zero patience for adults. Really? That’s what it really comes down to.

David Hall [00:04:52]:

Yeah, that’s great.

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:04:54]:

I have all the patience in the world for children because they’re children and they’re learning and they’re growing. Adults, I feel like, should kind of know better, and I don’t have a lot of patience for that. So that’s probably one of the biggest reasons. But more of it is, I guess I am a good leader. I’m a good leader in the classroom. I’m a teacher leader. I kind of set the bar in every school that I’m in for us to strive to be better at what we do and to really meet the needs of kids and meet them where they are, despite what other people have said, it’s not about money. It’s not about that role, that status. But introverts can be really good leaders in their own way. So I try to help them understand. You don’t always have to be the one raising your hand. Oohing taking control of the group. Offer your two cent. Take your time, reflect on what you want to add to the group. Take a break, step away from the group, gather your thoughts, and then come back and take the opportunity to add what you want to the conversation. I can’t remember what I called them in the book, to be honest with you, but little chips, conversation chips, I think. Conversation counters or chips or something like that. I can’t remember what I actually called them in the book, but I’ve been using those for years. So when we sit down at a small group, each kid will get four counters. Once you use those four counters by responding or participating in any way, you’re done. You’re done, and you’re not saying another word. So the extroverts usually are like, boom, boom, boom. And their four chips are done really quickly, whereas the quiet kids sit back and they’re like, now I can pick and choose when I want to participate in this conversation. And they take their chip, put it in the cup, and they’ll add their little two cent, and then the extrovert will jump in again and they’re like, okay. So it gives them the opportunity. Knowing their time is coming. I’m making space for them. The extroverts are not just going to take up all the space in the room. There is a space for you. You do have the opportunity. And sometimes the extroverts will get two chips and the introverts will get three. So they’ll get the opportunity to kind of get a little bit more in there. That’s just another strategy.

David Hall [00:07:12]:

Also, I guess, giving do they know you’re doing that? You’re giving different numbers of chips. You just do that because it’s random.

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:07:19]:

Sometimes I’ll give more and the introverts less, but I kind of you got to remember, I’ve had conversations with the Extroverts to say, you got to give other kids the opportunity, and they learn to be a little bit more respectful of their space in the classroom. Like with little kids. I always read the book Decibella and Her Six Inch Voice, because it’s about a little girl who literally is, like, screaming and at the center of attention all the time, and she learns that’s not the best way to be and there’s different ways to act in different situations. And it’s a real eye opener for the extroverts because they’re like, oh, I’m a Decibella. That’s me, and not even realizing the effect it has on the other kids in the class.

David Hall [00:08:08]:

I like that. So I could think of some meetings I’ve been in where I wish people had chips. You can have this many. I just want to comment on the leadership part. Yeah, introverts can be amazing leaders. Again, it’s just understanding who you are, what you need, your strengths and I mean, yeah, you are a leader in your classroom. You said you’ve taken a leadership role as far as influence in your schools. You’ve been in. You’re a leader in this space, in influencing, empowering introverts, especially in the classroom. And again, somebody might say, well, why aren’t you doing this? It’s like, well, because this is what I want to do, and this is how I want to, and there’s so many opportunities to lead. But again, that’s another myth, is introverts. It’s funny, it’s even a question, because introverts, of course, can be excellent leaders, but they’re going to do it a little differently. They need to understand that. They need to help other people understand that I’m going to have some great ideas, some great strategy and all that good stuff.

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:09:10]:

A perfect example. Or I guess an analogy is like when you look at a production, like a play or a movie, and you always see the actors on screen, right? But that play or production or movie didn’t occur just with the actors on screen. You need all the people behind the scenes as well. And that’s usually the role that introverts play, like in group work and in a classroom, we’re like the support staff, so to speak. We’re there. When that other comment about behind every man there’s a strong woman, strong, independent woman, it’s the same thing. There’s always that introvert there. They’re there. They’re behind the scenes. They’re not always in your face. But they definitely have some strengths and can be very strong leaders and very successful in life as well.

David Hall [00:09:59]:

Yeah. And people that listen to the show, they’ll hear me say often, of course we need introverts and extroverts. We all bring strengths. The show, we’re not bashing extroverts, but we’re just saying, let’s all understand each other and do our best work and those things that we want to do. Talk a little bit just about the actual physical environment in your classroom. How do you set that up to work for both introverts and extroverts?

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:10:27]:

So I can’t speak to what my room looks like now because of COVID and all that, and it’s awful and I hate it. And it goes against everything that I believe a classroom should look like because the kids are in rows. They’re not supposed to be working in groups, and it’s tough. We have very strict rules in the district that I work in, and they do walk around and they do check on things. So this has been a really rough year in terms of that. But generally speaking, kids have the opportunity to work in groups, in partners, independently, every day. Within every subject that we teach, there’s always those options. I do have a section of the room, a small little area called the quiet corner, where kids can go to de escalate from whatever. It could be a kid that it could be an extrovert that is just overstimulated. And for whatever the reason, or a kid that’s angry or frustrated and they need to go to that quiet corner. And I know there’s a picture of it actually in my book, where they’re able to go and just take a few minutes to just sit and deescalate and breathe. But it’s there for the quiet kids that need a break. I run a very structured classroom, but it’s not rigid and there’s a big difference there. There is a lot of flexibility, but the structured is more in terms of routine. Kids know what to expect. They walk in, we have our little schedule, they know what we’re doing for the day. If something different is going to pop up, they know from the minute they walk in the room there’s always time to prepare. A lot of what we do is built around routine and we spend a lot of time creating that at the beginning of the year. So it’s comfortable for the kids and they know what’s coming next and what to expect. For instance, things like when they come in the morning, we do a soft start. So they sit down, they have breakfast. If they’re eating in school, they have a choice of activities in the morning. Some kids read, some kids go on their computers, some kids will sit and work on a puzzle. Some kids will get out the playdoh and just start creating or building Lego or whatever. Or some kids just like to color. Other kids just sit and talk while they’re having breakfast. And I kind of circulate know, do my good mornings and how’s everybody doing. And I do kind of an emotional check in. I can kind of what’s what’s going know? Are they starting off their day good? Is there anybody with their head down? Are they crying or they just look frazzled or whatever? Because of the cold weather we’ve had in New Jersey lately, the kids haven’t been able to go outside. So we do take some movement breaks and they do freeze dances and all sorts of funny little things that we do. And kids that want to participate, participate. Kids that don’t, they don’t. When we come back from lunch every day, without fail, we turn out the lights. We’d have a whole bathroom routine. These are little kids, right?

David Hall [00:13:30]:

They’re six years old, right?

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:13:31]:

Everybody’s got to go to the bathroom before we start our read aloud. So while they’re doing that, I have calming music on. The kids have learned the value of breathing and meditation and that’s the time for that. The lights go out, some of them sit there and do the breathing. Some of them just sit quietly. Some of them, again, they color. And it’s a very relaxing, calming space for them. So that gives the kids that just came in from lunch, whether they’re running around outside or sitting in a crowded auditorium with kids all talking or sitting at lunch, it’s very overstimulating for those quiet kids. And it just gives them the opportunity to get centered, to take a break, a quiet moment, and that’s usually about ten minutes. And then at the end of the day, we just kind of get all of our energy out. We do little snowball fights. They get all the extra paper in their desk. They make little snowballs. They throw them at each other. So I kind of try to balance the mean, because it’s not all about introverts. All the know you have a combination of personalities in the classroom, so you have to find ways to meet the needs of I do. I do the best that I can.

David Hall [00:14:44]:

Okay, so what about you, Chrissy, as a teacher? Because I know there’s some amazing introvert teachers out there, and sometimes people even say, oh, introvert. Wouldn’t want to be a teacher. Have to be around kids all day. I know you love your job. It’s obvious to anybody listening you love your job. But how do you find that recharge time? You’ve talked about how you help kids do that? How do you do that?

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:15:08]:

So I guess the big thing for me is I get to work very early in the morning, so we contractually don’t have to get to work till 820. Usually there by 737 15, there’s only a handful of other teachers in the building. It’s very quiet. I’m able to do most of my prep work because by 305, I’m out. That’s contractually when we can leave, and I am out the door at 305 because I’m done. I need to get out. So I do all that prep work and all that stuff in the morning. I have music on, whatever I feel like listening to for the day. I have my breakfast and my coffee or my tea in there, and I get myself off to a soft start, just the way I like the kids to kind of ease into their morning. That’s why I do it on those few days where either I oversleep or there’s weather concerns or I have to drive my son to school where I normally he’s 17 now, so he’s driving. But sometimes I do, and I’m, like, rushed to get into school. It is the worst way for me to start my day. And the kids know it. They know it. They see it. They feel it. Are you okay, Ms. Chris? Is everything all right? You don’t seem like you should. They’re very intuitive, so that’s, like, again, it’s a routine, and routines make me very comfortable when the kids are at lunch. It is my break. I do not work over lunch. I do not socialize over lunch. I bring my Kindle with me. I eat my lunch. I turn off my lights. I usually move over by the window if there’s sun coming in that day, and I will read for 30 minutes. And a lot of teachers say, oh, my gosh. How do you do that? I come in early in the morning, and I do what I need to do then, because by that middle point, I need a break, I need a break. I’m overstimulated. There’s all that the phone is ringing and interruptions and working with the kids, and you’re go, go. And as a teacher of early childhood children, little kids, you are on from the minute they walk in the room till the minute they leave. There is not a minute that I am not engaged with those kids. It’s very different than when I was a middle school teacher where if you were having a rough day or had a headache or needed a minute, you can say, read chapter, such and such, and then we’ll talk. There is none of that when you’re teaching little kids. So by lunchtime, it’s my time, and my colleagues know that, and they respect that. By the end of the day, like I said, 305 rolls around, I’m out, I’m out. I come home, I work out. I have a routine at home, like a nighttime routine, where I start to settle down. I read, I crochet, I have my hobbies things that I do. But yeah, when I’m at work, I work, except for that little bit of lunchtime. But when I’m at home, a lot of it is just attending to me, to my family, to what interests me. I’m on February break right now, which is why I’m able to have this conversation in the middle of the day on a Friday. And I did not do anything for work this week. I did all the things that I wanted to do for me, and I’m okay with that because I needed that time to recharge. And when I go back in on Monday, I will be 150% ready to go to receive those kids and just jump in and start with the learning and the fun and all of that. So those of you that are listening, that are educators, this whole idea that you have to do it for the kids and give up all your time and work, work, that doesn’t mean you’re a great teacher. It means, oh, my God, you’re burning the candle at both ends and you’re going to burn out. And I think over this pandemic, the last year and a half, two years, teachers have realized you’re not getting paid anymore for it. There’s no glory behind that. I’ve put those days behind me, and I take the time to take care of myself. It’s truly, truly important, because when you retire and the job is over, you want to be healthy and strong and physically, mentally, emotionally, so that you can enjoy the rest of your life.

David Hall [00:19:18]:

Oh, that’s brilliant. And that’s the thing that people have to understand, no matter if you’re a teacher or not, you have to take care of yourself. You have to figure out what works for you. And half hour alone at lunchtime, that may be just what you need. Someone else might think that’s strange, but you said, yeah, people understand. This is what I need. And so sometimes it is kind of just explaining to people, articulating your needs and setting those boundaries, hey, you know what? I’m going to be my best if I take a little time alone. And again, a lot of this work is helping people embrace who they are, what they need, but also being able to explain it to others and then hopefully having the others understand, hey, you know what? This is normal. This is a normal behavior. And I like that you get in early and take care of it, and at the end of the day, you’re done. So that’s great.

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:20:10]:

Yeah. So it’s not like I’m a slacker, you know what I mean? 305. And I’ve had people comment and they can say what they want, but it’s like you don’t realize that’s because you’re coming in at 817 when you’re supposed to be there at 820, and then you’re staying till 05:00 at night. And if that works for you, you do you and I’ll do me. I don’t reserve judgment because you don’t know what’s happening behind the doors when they go home. I know kids that have teachers that have little kids at home that once they’re in the door, nothing will get accomplished because they have three kids under the age of seven and a spouse and maybe a parent living at home with them. So they do what they need to do. I let that stuff roll off my back. It used to bother me. I don’t let it anymore. I need to do in the morning, and that just works for me.

David Hall [00:21:03]:

That’s a big part of this, is embracing who you are and not apologizing for it.

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:21:08]:

Yes.

David Hall [00:21:09]:

Just being able to say, this is what I need. So you mentioned the pandemic and that you weren’t very happy with the structure and what you have to do right now. Hopefully that’s all over soon. But how did introverts do with going to online learning? Because I think there’s probably some myths around that, too.

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:21:26]:

I think it depends. I don’t really think with any of this that we’re talking about, you can’t throw blanket statements. Right?

David Hall [00:21:33]:

Right.

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:21:34]:

For me, we talked a little bit before we started our official conversation. I don’t like having my picture taken. I don’t like being on video. I don’t like the camera on me. I’m not keen on being the center of attention. So for me, personally, the idea of zoom and being on camera and seeing my face all the time, I didn’t like it. I mean, I’m used to it now because, my gosh, it’s been two years. I’m still doing hybrid because I’ve had active COVID cases in my class since two weeks before Christmas, all the way through and ongoing until now. So I’m still doing kids in the class and hybrid, I can’t wait till it’s over. But at first it took a lot to get used to that. I think it’s the same thing with introverted kids I’ve seen. My husband teaches middle school, and he deals with a lot of kids, like just not wanting to turn on their cameras for lots of different reasons. And he respects that they’re there and they’re learning and they’re participating and doing what they have to do. They just don’t want their camera on. And I just wish that I was able to do the same sometimes. Sometimes it’s exhausting just always seeing yourself in the camera and always being aware that you’re there and you can’t really let loose and be yourself when you’re constantly it’s almost like looking in a mirror.

David Hall [00:22:50]:

It is. That’s what you’re doing? You’re looking in a mirror the whole time. And it can be exhausting or it’s funny. I was just in a meeting today and it’s like, okay, well, I want to lean back in my seat, so I’m going to turn off my camera for a minute here. It’s definitely not normal.

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:23:08]:

Yeah, I mean, we have staff meetings on zoom, and we are forced to have our cameras on from 305 till 415. And you’re tired or you’re eating a snack because you’re starving, because lunch was at 1030 in the morning, and this is the only other time you have to eat something before you go home. And then you get the phone call, put your camera on. And I find that just so unnecessary. And that’s all about control and wanting us to be compliant and not being really respectful. But it’s not just in my building. I see it. I hear it from people all the time. Teachers are like that with students as well. My kind of take on things is if you show up, I know you’re there, you’re doing your work, whether you’re participating audibly, orally, like, I can hear you, or you’re submitting your work, or you’re drawing a picture. I teach all the kids, so kind of you never know what it’s going to look like in the end. I don’t care if you’re sitting there in your pajamas or if your cat is climbing on your keyboard or your dog is sitting with you, or we’re doing our daily read aloud and you brought your two little siblings over and they’re sitting and they’re listening too. I’m cool with that. I’m okay with that. So I think in a lot of respects, introverts were in their own home beating to their own drum. They were able to eat their snack and their drink and sit in their pajamas and in their rooms and be comfortable with their world around them. It allowed them to open up and be more comfortable because they’re surrounded by they’re in their space. They’re in their comfort zone. Extroverts, I don’t think, liked being muted all the time and just, okay, enough of you. Mute. Wish I could do that in real life. Mute. All, but you can’t. Being able to mute everybody and allowing just one child to speak and to share their thinking without interruption, it was great. The flip side to all of that, I guess, is when the kids came back to school this year, the introverts that I saw in my classroom really struggled with just basic socialization. Knowing how to sit in a seat, how to sit still, how to sustain themselves for a period of time without putting their head down or falling apart emotionally, or feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated. You can’t mute the world around you when you’re sitting in a classroom. So that, I saw, was a struggle, especially for younger kids. So I have 20 kids in my classroom in September. Only four of them had ever been in school in a classroom before. Four out of 20.

David Hall [00:25:50]:

Yeah. I would say that’s especially a challenge for your grade level, because they may not have been in a classroom. And I feel really bad for little kids growing up in the pandemic right now. They might think especially little ones might think, oh, everybody wears a mask all the time because they don’t know what’s normal.

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:26:10]:

Yeah, they really don’t. Or what we used to consider normal. Kids that don’t know how to use a public restroom because they’d never been in a public restroom because they grew up during not grew up, but were born or I guess through those formative years, like three and four. Years old. When everything was locked down and people weren’t going to restaurants and they weren’t going to malls and they weren’t going to public places, you were home crazy. That the things that are coming out of this pandemic that you would never, ever think of. I know a lot of teachers that teach middle school and high school kids talk a lot about depression and anxiety, and the kids are experiencing a lot of that. And we’re seeing on the younger end of things is lack of just basic social skills. Socialization. They don’t know how to line up. They don’t know how to talk to one another. They don’t know how to share with one another. They don’t know how to play on a playground. September, October, November. It was a nightmare. Pushing, shoving, punching, hitting, kicking, biting. All of these behaviors from kids that I was shocked, shocked at it. Things have slowed down a bit now, and I think they’re getting into the groove and kind of understanding this is how we act with other people in a more formal setting, which is that of a school, but kids running everywhere, not knowing how to walk, and pretty wild, really wild kind of behaviors. And a couple of groups that I’m in on social media with other teachers of pre KK twelve across the country are talking about behaviors, and it’s these sorts of things that are like, wow, you’re not used to seeing that in second grade. First grade, yeah.

David Hall [00:27:53]:

So. It all puts just extra complications on this whole discussion that we’ve had.

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:27:58]:

Yeah.

David Hall [00:27:58]:

So, again, I think you’re doing amazing work. How do you think that this work continues? Someone gets out of your classroom. Are they going to feel more empowered as an introvert going forward?

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:28:11]:

I mean, I hope so. I do. I feel like my job when I teach the little kids is to just build them up, build their confidence so they feel good about themselves, so they feel like they can read and they can write and they can do math, even if it’s just that they’re very the level that they’re at. But, wow, I could pick up a book and I can read the cat on the mat and the cat sat on the they can just read something, and they’re able to do simple math and write simple sentences and to feel that their voice can be heard. We do have the opportunity at staff meetings this much, I have to say. Our administrator does give us the opportunity to share strategies and what’s working. So I’ve had opportunity to do that over the years, to share the different things that are happening in my classroom. If I do have a few kids and I do this every year, the one or two kids that I feel have come a really long way or that really struggle with introversion and really kind of need that extra. Push. I will make sure to go to that teacher next year and just give them a little bio, a little history on that kid, and be like, these are things that work. And whether they do it or not, I don’t know. I mean, I just feel that’s my due diligence to kind of pass along. I have had kids come back to me years later. Kids that I taught in middle school come back to me grown adults now, and they’re like, wow, I learned about striking first. And not that they call it that, but it’s the strategy that I say, yeah, if you have anxiety about something and you know you have something you want to share, be the first one to put it out there. Because studies have shown, research has shown that you kind of set the tone. The conversation will kind of go in a certain direction. Just get it out there so you’re not sitting there tapping your pencil or tapping your foot or sweating or wringing your hands, and then you never get the nerve up to speak. Try to get out there first. But I’ve had a few kids come back to me over the years and say, wow, that’s worked well for me over the years.

David Hall [00:30:21]:

That’s why you do it, isn’t know?

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:30:24]:

Yeah, absolutely.

David Hall [00:30:26]:

So, Chrissy, I’ve really enjoyed this conversation. We’ve talked about so many different good things, good strategies. Is there anything that we missed that you really want to make sure that you bring out today?

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:30:40]:

I mean, we covered a lot, which I’m amazed. I mean, we really did cover a lot in a short amount of time. But I think one of the more important things we didn’t talk is about parents of introverted kids. So if you’re an introvert, I just hope that you read my book. Read a book, read somebody’s book about introversion, understand what you are all about and embrace that and learn to love that part of who you are so that you can love it in your kids and not want to change them and extroverts the same thing. Learn whatever you can about introversion and really see your kids for who they are and help build them up and help focus on their strengths and help support their weaknesses and help them understand that they are wonderful the way that they are, despite what society may say, and advocate for them and be their cheerleader. Which, again, is the reason I wrote the book in the first place. It’s really what it all came, and I didn’t even want to write the book. The interesting story behind all of this is that I was just always talking about these things at ed camps and conferences and different strategies I was doing in my classroom and advocating for my son. Because if you can’t be as a parent, be your child’s advocate, who’s going to advocate for them? Hopefully the teacher. But if not, it has to be you. And the owner of Times Ten Publishing, Mark Barnes, actually came to me and was like, I know you. We’ve known each other for a while, and other different forums and aspects, and I see what you do. And I have been an introverted kid, and I feel like I’m failing, I’m failing as a parent. And he just wanted to know more. And it was funny because I was actually in the midst of writing this book for a much larger publishing house, and then they just kind of dropped the ball and never picked it up after that. And I had trouble reaching out to them, and I reached out to Mark just to have a conversation as a friend. And he was like, Why didn’t you come to me? And I’m like, I don’t know, it never crossed my mind to come to you. And he’s like, Well, I want you to. Let’s write this book together. I want to publish this for you. So he really allowed me to even change the format a little bit from what he was used to doing. And I pushed back a lot, and I was like, my voice needs to be heard in the way that I want it to be heard. And he was so respectful of that, and I think he learned a lot and he was really supportive through the whole thing. So it’s just funny that it didn’t sell the way that I thought. We talked about this before because I’m not into marketing. I’m a teacher. That’s me, and I’m an introverted teacher at that. So I love having these conversations because it’s another way to get the information out. If you don’t read the book, listen to this podcast or others that I’ve done or find introverts on, there’s lots of little people to follow on Instagram and other blogs to read and just learn more. So I think that’s probably the biggest takeaway, is just try to find out as much information you can, if not from me, from somebody else that’s sharing it.

David Hall [00:33:51]:

Yeah. And I love what you said about parents, whether they’re extroverted or introverted. Treasure that child for who they are. Celebrate them sometimes. You might need to give them a little push here and there, but understand who they are. And sometimes parenting is a tough job. It’s the best job, but it’s a tough job. And sometimes you might need to do a little some of your own self reflection and become self aware. Even an introverted parent may not understand their introverted child. And sometimes and again, that’s why we’re doing this. I am really glad that even if it was reluctantly, you wrote your book. I’ll tell everybody here I recommend it, buy the book. It’s a great book in lots of different ways. Where can people get your book?

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:34:35]:

You can get it at Barnes and Noble. You can get it Amazon, straight from times ten. You could even reach out to me. I mean, I have a box of copies here that I’d be willing to mail out. Yeah, probably Amazon is probably the easiest place to purchase it. And I just found out, interestingly enough, it was translated into so I yeah, so that was like a new thing. It’s actually selling on the foreign market now. And I was like, wow, I’m like, that’s pretty cool. I didn’t know anything about it. My publisher just reached out and said, look, here’s the new cover. And I’m like, Wait a minute. That’s not English. What is that all about? So I thought that was pretty neat.

David Hall [00:35:16]:

That’s got to feel great. So if people do want to reach out to you, what’s the best way to do that?

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:35:22]:

I guess on any social media that’s out there. I mean, on Twitter. I’m at the Connected. I’m on Instagram. I don’t know what my name is there. I think it’s Chrissy Lives for Chocolate or something like that. And then on Facebook, it’s just me. Chrissy romano Arabito. But I’m sure in your little podcast.

David Hall [00:35:41]:

Notes, I will put them all yes, I will add them all to the show notes.

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:35:45]:

Yeah, I mean, they could always email me also. Cramano two, two, three@gmail.com. I’m there. I’m connected. Look, you reached out to me out of the blue. I responded right away. I was like, wow. Yeah, because I haven’t really talked about the book in a while. I mean, it was published. It’s been a couple of years now, and I have to say thank you for reaching out because I took a look over this week leading up to this conversation and I went back and kind of perused it a little bit, browsed it here and there certain things I wanted to include in the conversation, and I’m happy I did, because there’s things that I wrote in there that I forgot, and I’m like, wow, I’m definitely got to make sure I do that. And I’m just as happy now that I wrote it as I was at the time, and and I am proud of it. So, yeah, read it. I hope you do.

David Hall [00:36:37]:

Yeah. So thanks again for all your great work as a teacher. You’re doing amazing work and especially helping empower introverts to be their best selves. So thanks again.

Chrissy Romano Arrabito [00:36:49]:

Thank you so much. And for all you teachers out there, keep your eyes open for those quiet kids. We all have them. They’re all there.

David Hall [00:36:56]:

Yes. Thank you so much for joining me. I look forward to further connecting with you. Email me at david@quietandstrong.com. Check out the website, quietandstrong.com. I’ll add social media channels for me and my guests to the show notes. Send me topics or guests you’d like to see on the show. There’s so many great things about being introvert, and we need those to be understood. We need to have conversations about the strengths and needs of introverts. Get to know your introverted strengths and needs and be strong.

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