Dear introverted music teacher,
I see you.
I remember the feelings I had as a new music teacher who also happened to be an introvert. I observed in amazement at the energy some teachers gleaned from being around groups of people all day. I listened dejectedly as teachers moved forward to the next topic in a staff meeting, while I was still pondering the ramifications of the last. Like many other times in my life, I felt as though something was inherently wrong with me. I felt broken, and I needed to be fixed.
Over time, sharing my opinion at staff meetings wasn’t even a consideration for me, unless I could do so through paper and pen. Hence, the start of this blog. If you’re an introvert, you may relate to one or all of the things I’ve mentioned so far. You may even wish you were different, as I did for most of my life. That is, until I read this book: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
While reading that book, I learned about the biological science of introversion. I learned about our multiple strengths, and how often those strengths are overlooked by society as a whole. I learned how extroverts and introverts can balance each other to create a working environment that benefits everyone. Over time, I learned to accept and even feel proud of my introversion.
Why Does Introversion Matter in the Music Classroom?
It matters in the music classroom because about one third of your students are introverts. And that’s okay! They do NOT need to be changed. Rather, they need to be celebrated for the unique strengths they bring to your classroom. Here’s a short list of the hidden strengths of an introvert:
- Introverts are observant
- We notice that tiny speck on the floor just as we notice the subtle change in dynamics in our favorite musical piece. We’re also quick to notice subtle changes in others’ body language and facial expressions, which is a huge advantage in building strong relationships.
- We are thoughtful leaders
- We listen to others’ ideas and thoughtfully consider the best options. In fact, introverts have more blood flow going to the frontal lobe of their brain than extroverts. The frontal lobe is associated with higher thinking and memory.
- We are problem-solvers and idea-generators
- Just because a student is the last to speak out, does not mean that they don’t have ideas. In fact, it’s quite the opposite! Introverts have complex inner lives (I certainly do). They are able to think deeply about issues, and they are able to do this while working alone:
“decades of research have consistently shown that brainstorming groups think of far fewer ideas than the same number of people who work alone and later pool their ideas.”Keith Sawyer, psychologist at Washington University in St. Louis
This, of course, is just a few of our strengths. Click HERE to see more.
Not All Introverts are Shy
I happen to be both shy and an introvert, but they aren’t always connected. People are not born shy; rather it’s a mix of genetics and environment.
only about 30% of shyness as a trait is down to genetics and the rest comes about as a response to the environment.Thalia Eley, professor of developmental behavioral genetics at Kings College London
Introversion has more to do with how you get your energy than it does with how socially outgoing you are. You may be the type of introvert who loves to party, but also needs lots of alone time afterward to recuperate. If you are an introvert who is also shy, you not only don’t want to party, but you may seek out the resident dog to pet as an excuse not to interact with lots of strangers.
Where to Go From Here
- If you’re an introverted music teacher, I highly suggest you read this book.
- It delves into the science of introversion, why we need introverts and extroverts, and the strengths associated with both.
- Ignore what our society rewards. Society’s mindset is often wrong.
- Our society rewards extroversion. How often have you seen a colleague be promoted because of their networking skills rather than their ability to do the job well? Just because society rewards it, doesn’t mean it’s right.
- Talk to yourself the way you would talk to a student.
- A therapist taught me this trick, and it’s been invaluable. We always talk to students with compassion and understanding, so why do so many of us not talk to ourselves in the same manner? Rewiring my negative self-talk is something I have to practice daily, but it’s absolutely been worth the effort. Practice makes progress 😉
- Recommend this book to kids and teens and ask your school librarian if they have this book available for students.
- It comes with a guide for parents and teachers, and would be great for the budding introverts in your school.