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September designates the end of summer and back-to-school time. It can be tough going back to school as an introvert. 

If you’re a parent, you might be concerned about how your introverted child will navigate the new school year, if teachers and friends will be supportive, and how you can help.

If you’re a student, you might be feeling nervous about starting new classes and meeting new people. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this episode, we’ll give you some tips on how to make the most of the new school year, and how introverted personalities can thrive in the new school year.

So hit play and get ready to take on the world, one quiet step at a time.

Other related podcast episodes you might Like:

Ep. 34 – What I Wish I Had Known About Introversion Before College

Ep 59 – Unleashing the True Potential of Introverts in the Classroom, with Teacher Chrissy Romano Arrabito – Part 1 & Ep 60 – Chrissy Romano Arrabito – Part 2

Ep 71 – Having all voices heard in the classroom and beyond with educator Stacey Roshan

Ep 131 – Nurturing Introverted Leaders in the Classroom and Beyond, with guest Dr. Heidi Kasevich


Books mentioned in this episode:

Marti Olsen Laney – The Introvert Advantage

Susan Cain Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Articles mentioned in this episode:

Ana Homayoun – Back To School Tips For Introverted Students

Contact the host of the Quiet and Strong Podcast: 

David Hall

Author, Speaker, Educator, Podcaster

quietandstrong.com

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david@quietandstrong.com

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Podcast Transcript

Back to school for introverts Episode 86

Hello, and welcome to Episode 86 of the Quiet and Strong Podcast, especially for introverts.  I am your host, David Hall and 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 will air each episode on Monday mornings.  Be sure to subscribe on your favorite platform, leave a review, tell a friend, help get the word out there.

It is back to school time.  For me I have a high schooler and a son attending a university, and have spent my career in higher education focusing on helping students succeed. How about you?  Do you have a child in school or maybe a child you care about, a niece, a nephew?  Do you have a child in college? Or maybe you are in college.  We can be in college at any age of course.  Are schools built for introverts?  I think we are making progress, but we have some way to go in understanding introvert needs and strengths and how we can honor and support introverts whether at the k-12 level or at the college or university level. 

What was your experience in school?  As an introvert were you a quiet kid? Or a quiet kid and then a quiet adult?  And when I say quiet, there is nothing wrong with being quiet, it can be a problem when you are misunderstood and not getting what you want or your voice is not heard or you are not using your talents to the fullest.

We all come with different strengths and needs.  School or life should not be a one size fits all approach.  We need to find ways to be our best and bring out the best in others.  And this applies to our children and our classrooms.

I like how Susan Cain, author of Quiet, puts it in Ten Tips for Parenting an Introverted Child.

Cain says we “Don’t just accept your child for who she is; treasure her for who she is.” 

In The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child, Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D., writes: “Introverted children really are small wonders.  Accept them as they are.  By supporting their natural resources you will allow their gifts to grow.  Being an introvert and being self-assured are not mutually exclusive.  Confident introverted children will forge adult lives of meaning, value, and creativity.”

Too many introverts grow up feeling that there is something wrong with them.  And many do find out later that they have amazing gifts.  Unfortunately, some may never come to this realization.  How can we do better in helping everyone understand that we each have unique personalities and that is a good thing?  We each have gifts to share.

I know when I was a kid introversion was not discussed.  There has been some great progress since then, but we need more. I was a quiet kid.  I had some good friends, but I was definitely not confident in all situations.  I did have a few good teachers that helped bring out some of my talents.  I had plenty of awkward experiences of being called on in class or having to go up to the board especially when I wasn’t prepared.  There were plenty of other challenges outside of the classroom, but for this episode let’s talk about finding success in the classroom. 

Both elementary and high school were full of plenty of awkward moments for me. When I took my son to the university last year I reflected on my own experience as an introverted college student.  Check our Episode 34 – What I Wish I Had Known About Introversion Before College

In college sometimes introverts struggle with participating in the lecture.  Maybe there are even the dreaded participation points. I know I struggled with participating in class.  For much of my school career, I didn’t realize that an important strategy for introverts is preparation.  We think before we speak.  And to fully participate in a college lecture often takes plenty of thinking ahead of time.  I got off to a rocky start at college.  I was a great student prior to college, but I soon found out that high school and college were worlds apart. The good news is, that I eventually learned how to be a great college student too.  I finished my bachelor’s and then went on to finish a master’s degree.  I learned that if I wanted to be successful, I needed to prepare ahead of time.  This meant actually reading the book before class. This was the start of my journey in embracing my introversion.  I  now know that I do better when I prepare in advance for meetings, presentations, and speeches. When I figured this out for school, I did so much better having done the reading in advance.  I understood so much better and was much more likely to have something to contribute to the conversation. Often I need time to process answers to questions, especially complex ones. And of course, sometimes you just got to say let me think about that. And now most of my career has been in higher education where I am working to help all students find success.

So back to elementary school and high school.  What issues are introverts facing?  Maybe you’re a parent and you hear from the teacher, your daughter is doing fine, but I wish she would participate more, or I wish she “would come out of her shell.”  Well-meaning teachers may not understand that it is just not as simple as coming out of your shell.  There are techniques and strategies, for teachers, parents, and the students themselves to find their voice have the learning experience they need.  After all, school is made for learning, but there are many different learning styles and needs.

I have had a couple of great teachers on the podcast that discussed how to help their introverted students succeed.

Check out Episode 59 & Episode 60 – Unleashing the True Potential of Introverts in the Classroom, with Teacher Chrissy Romano Arrabito – Part 1 and Part 2.

Chrissy is an elementary teacher.  She is an introvert and came to realize the strengths and needs of introverts a little later in life.  She wrote a great book which I highly recommend.  

“Quiet Kids Count: Unleashing the True Potential of Introverts.” In the episode, she 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.  All the while doing the same for extroverts. This episode was packed with so much great information, but here are just a couple highlights.  I was very impressed how Chrissy talked about connecting with each and every student.  The first three weeks of class her focus was on her relationships with her students.  She says that she often gets flack for this, but this really set the stage for all students to learn and learn from that teacher they have a great relationship with.  Amongst many strategies she shared, one that stood out to me is that she gives each students a couple of “participation chips” for certain class discussions.  This way to participate, the student has to have a chip.  This prevents some students from dominating and allows everyone a chance to participate.  She also said that sometimes she might sneak an extra chip in for the introverts.  I had to laugh and think about the many meetings I’ve been in where I wish some people were limited with chips. If you want to hear more check out the episode.

Also, in episode 71- Having all voices heard in the classroom and beyond with educator Stacey Roshan.  Stacey taught high school math and is a keynote speaker and educational consultant.  Stacey struggled as an introvert herself and then grew up to be the teacher that she needed.  She wrote Tech with Heart –  Leveraging Technology to Empower Student Voice, Ease Anxiety, & Create Compassionate Classrooms.  This is such a great book! Stacey is passionate about discovering and sharing innovative ways to leverage technology to deepen relationships, build confidence, and create a safe learning environment where every student feels empowered to share their voice. She uses technology in the flipped classroom.  She would make videos that students could watch maybe as homework and they can pause if they need or they could watch at a faster speed.  Either way they would then be ready for the classroom participation.  Stacey also gave her students the opportunity to do their assignments by video.  They could have time to think about their assignment, re-record if needed, and do the assignment in an environment that was comfortable for them.  She made the point that sometimes the quietest kid may be the smartest.  She has had someone that was very quiet in class produce a masterpiece when they were allowed to record a video for their assignment.  Check out this episode for more.

There are some great teachers out there.  Let’s help shine the spotlight on every student and help them figure out how to shine.  

What if you are the student? I read an article from Ana Homayoun “Back To School Tips For Introverted Students.”  She gives five tips for introverted students.  You may find these tips helpful even if you aren’t a student.

1. Become your own best advocate. Talk to your teacher.  Let them know that you think before you speak and may need time to think before responding. 

2. Find activities that suit your personality. Find those activities that you like!  Don’t feel pressure to do things that don’t appeal to you.  Mayne you like sports, inventing things, maybe acting or performing, photography, art, reading, writing, or exploring the great outdoors.

 3. Create ample opportunities to rest and recharge – even during the school day. Figure out a way to get breaks here and there.  Maybe it is a trip to the bathroom or maybe there is a quiet spot you can spend a few minutes in.  Maybe take the long way to class.  I know I did not like riding the bus and sometimes I would walk home and even though it was a long walk it felt great.

4. Accept that your social needs may be different than others, and realize that an over-consumption of social media can promote F.O.M.O. and burnout. Whether it be the activities you do or the type of recharge you need, do you!  Just because your social needs may be different than someone else’s, doesn’t make them any less valid.

5. Take time to develop friendships with friends who truly understand you. 

This can take time.  Find friends that have things in common with you.  It is perfectly normal for the introvert to have a tight circle of friends.  Friends that you can have some deep discussions with.  Friends that get you.  Introverts can definitely get drained by too much small talk and shallow conversation.

So whether you are a student, parent, teacher, introvert, or someone that cares about an introvert, remember that we ALL have great gifts.  We all have needs.  Let’s get to know what we need and where we shine as well as what others need and where they shine.  Another Susan Cain quote “Everyone shines, given the right lighting.”

Thank you so much for joining me.  I look forward to further connecting with you.  Reach out at david@quietandstrong.com. Or check out the quietandstrong.com website which includes blog posts and links to social media channels.  Send me topics or guests you would like to see on the show. If you’re interested in getting to know yourself better, there is now a Free Typefinder Personality Assessment on the Quiet and Strong website. This free assessment will give you a brief report including the 4-letter Myers-Briggs code. I will add a link in the show notes. So many great things about being an introvert and so we need those to be understood.  Get to know your introverted strengths and needs and be Strong!

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