In a recent article for IG Schools Joanna Rawbone explained the difference between extraversion and introversion to dismantle some of the commonly held misconceptions, before sharing her first 3 tips to address the bias in your classroom.
Joanna believes there is much work to be done as this bias is firmly embedded in our society, so here she lays out a few more ways to create an inclusive culture in education.
The foundation is taking time to understand the personality types and preferences of the young people you educate so as not to unknowingly perpetuate the bias. I’m not suggesting that children complete a MBTI or similar profiling tool as those have their critics and children are still developing. It may be done in a playful manner using something like the Bolton & Bolton social styles model where everyone self-positions and the strengths and qualities of each quadrant are explained. This breaks down barriers and enables the valuing of difference.
Tip #4 - Notice differences and hold them with curiosity rather than judgement.
- Notice who seeks out interactions with others, especially in bigger groups and who is more self-contained or prefers one-to-one interactions. Remember, it’s not necessarily an indication that there is anything wrong with the latter individual, they may just be overwhelmed in larger, louder groups. Pushing them to become part of that larger group may not be helpful and may just reinforce their sense of not being OK.
- Notice who uses that think-say-think communication process explained in the first article. This doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t know the answer, or don’t have any ideas. They potentially need additional processing time. How creative can you be in making space for their contribution?
- Notice who has trouble focusing or is easily distracted and who keeps their head down working diligently on a task or activity.
Empowering young people to value each other’s differences also includes their neurodiversity.
Whether this be during class time or at a parent’s evening, an introvert’s natural behaviour is often criticised, and feedback is more likely to prove damaging rather than motivational.
Tip #5 - Ensure your feedback is actionable.
It’s a given that feedback needs to have positive intent and be constructive, in other words, actionable. This may either be:
- Motivational feedback, which focuses on what has been done well and the associated behaviours. This type of feedback encourages students to do more of the same.
- Developmental feedback which explores how things can be improved.
The challenge here is not to just to praise the introverted child when they step out of their comfort zone, but to give motivational feedback when they play to their strengths. This might include when they listen well, when they ask great questions, when they get their work done without a fuss, when they thoughtfully spend time with another student.
Being loud is not the same as being a leader, being bossy is not the same as being assertive and being the centre of attention is not the same as being happy.
The final area to explore is how to set up work/study groups for effective working. Collaborative working is often over emphasised and poorly executed, which is something that few introverts excel at. Many unproductive collaborations occur when not all get the opportunity to contribute ideas, the work is done by those who have done less talking yet the marks awarded are the same.
Tip #6 - How to establish more inclusive group working.
- It’s important to know the strengths of each individual so the learning can be appropriately scaffolded, and also work in groups where they can play to those strengths. Give them the responsibility with charts or tick lists to ensure that this happens.
- Ask them to share at the start of the project or piece of work that they like doing best and how they can contribute. This gives them an opportunity to articulate their strengths, something they’ll need to do as they move into higher education or the workplace. Having been given so much negative feedback in the past, this is something that many introverts struggle with.
- Encourage the students to conduct a review at the end where they provide constructive feedback to each other, thereby reinforcing their strengths and development areas.
Creating an educational level playing field where all feel valued is possible and the responsibility rests with you.
About the author
Joanna Rawbone has spent more than 24 years working with thousands of international clients and during this time, and through her own earlier experiences, she has seen just how problematic the Extraversion bias in organisations is. It negatively impacts employee engagement, retention and productivity. It also impairs the physical and mental health & well-being of employees with the obvious consequences.
As a result, she founded Flourishing Introverts, a platform to:
support those who want to fulfil their potential without pretending to be something they're not
educate and inform organisations about the true cost of overlooking their introverts
promote positive action and balance the extraversion bias
Find more tips and insights from experts working across the education sector via the IG Schools Hub.