Education & Family

How extroverted teachers can engage introverted students

While fashionable understanding of introversion was rising, Vogelsinger was getting a private training. Because he married an introvert, he started to see the strengths that come from introverts’ propensity for quiet reflection. Just as importantly, he observed that among the strongest writing assignments in his lessons got here from students who not often spoke in school. These observations raised questions for the way he structured lessons in a subject where conversation is king.

“It took me a while to realize that someone can engage rigorously mentally with what’s going on in the classroom, and you might not hear it as a teacher,” Vogelsinger stated. “So then how do we make that learning visible? How do we give them chances to share what they’re learning?”

Adding extra voices to the dialog with coloured index playing cards

Last spring, Vogelsinger’s English class at Holicong Middle School was discussing whether or not destiny or decision-making performed an even bigger function within the tragic consequence of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Each pupil had a white index card and a yellow index card on their desk. At the start, he reminded students {that a} white card “means a fresh new idea no one’s brought up yet,” and a yellow card means you’re building on somebody’s line of considering, “just like yellow snow means someone’s been there before.” He calls this dialogue format “white snow/yellow snow.”

As students spoke, classmates raised a white or yellow card to be referred to as on, shuffling between playing cards after listening to friends’ feedback. Vogelsinger devised this technique to create extra on-ramps to class discussions for introverted students, who would possibly take a beat (or a number of) earlier than volunteering, and by the point they do, their extra voluble classmates have gone in a unique course.

In a “white snow/yellow snow” dialogue, students elevate a white index card to share a brand new thought or a yellow index card to construct on a classmate’s thought. (Kara Newhouse/KQED)

About midway by the Romeo and Juliet dialogue, a pupil named Mary tentatively raised a yellow card about midway. Another classmate took a flip, and Mary raised her card greater. Vogelsinger nodded to her, giving her the ground, and he or she softly shared a counterpoint to her classmates’ claims about Romeo’s unhealthy decisions.

Vogelsinger stated his introverted students often converse up extra when utilizing the index playing cards. Plus, his extroverted students are reminded to hear and mirror a bit of greater than ordinary. “Instead of just raising your hand, which you’re doing all day, now you have this other element and you have to think about how [what you want to say] connects to other things with the white snow/yellow snow.”

The index playing cards additionally assist Vogelsinger monitor the movement of dialog and redirect when issues go off observe or one thought drags on too lengthy. And they aren’t the one approach Vogelsinger invitations introverts to take part in school.

Discussion boards and suppose time

Before classroom discussions start, Vogelsinger additionally builds in alternatives for students to engage with concepts on their very own. Online message boards are a type of alternatives. Though some teachers used on-line dialogue boards earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic, their recognition surged throughout distance studying. Many teachers heard from new voices by these boards.

“Kids who had been really quiet were responding really well on discussion boards in that last part of the spring from March to June [2020],” Vogelsinger stated of his lessons. Now he makes use of message boards as an introvert-friendly type of participation all through the semester. Sometimes he highlights feedback from the boards in school earlier than transferring on to a different exercise. Other occasions, the message boards lead right into a verbal dialogue, just like the white snow/yellow snow dialogue of Romeo and Juliet.

“They’ve already done some thinking about it online. They’ve even interacted with [ChatGPT] and how it wrote about [the play’s themes],” Vogelsinger stated. That preparation provides students “roots to the conversation.” Plus, he carved out a number of minutes earlier than the dialogue for students to revisit what they wrote and browse one another’s responses. That “think time” is particularly useful for introverted students, who might not need to speak on the spot as quickly as a trainer throws out a query.

“Introversion is not about being quiet, shy or reserved,” Vogelsinger stated. “It’s about feeling recharged and energized by quiet time, reflective time. … And in English class that’s really valuable. And in learning, that’s really valuable.”

Engagement as a continuum

For Vogelsinger, studying about introversion helped him transfer from deficit considering to tackling a inventive problem. “I’ve learned not to see an introverted student as someone who’s not engaging as much as I think they should, and rather to see my responsibility as giving a variety of ways to engage,” he stated.

He makes use of the phrase “engage” deliberately. While “participation” when utilized in grading often emphasizes speaking in school, engagement encompasses a variety of studying behaviors. Education researcher Amy Berry developed a continuum of student engagement that illustrates this idea.

A continuum of pupil engagement, from Reimagining Student Engagement by Amy Berry. (Courtesy of Corwin Press)

In Berry’s continuum, responding to trainer questions is taken into account a passive type of engagement, whereas extra energetic engagement consists of habits comparable to asking questions, setting targets, and in search of suggestions. These behaviors can happen in each extroverted and introverted methods. What’s essential, in line with Berry, is to search out out from students themselves what this stuff appear to be. “That’s when you’re really going to get somewhere when both teacher and student are able to use the continuum as kind of a foundation and anchor for their conversations about engagement,” she stated.

Vogelsinger confirmed his students the engagement continuum for the primary time final yr. But he and the opposite English teachers at Holicong Middle School had been asking students what engaged studying appears to be like like effectively earlier than that. A couple of years in the past, as a part of a rethinking course of round grades, Vogelsinger and his colleagues created a quarterly self-reflection for students. Students are inspired to take a look at patterns of their homework completion, class participation and project suggestions earlier than responding to a number of prompts. One of these prompts is: 

  • Engagement and participation are very important to success, however can look totally different to totally different students. Explain the way you take part and engage in school.

Questions like that can assist teachers see strengths in all students – and spark concepts for easy methods to assist them study. Two many years into his profession, it’s not simply the thought of an extrovert because the mannequin pupil that Vogelsinger has shed; it’s the complete idea of a mannequin pupil.

“Now I think I’m much better at seeing the individual students,” he stated. “I’m looking more for growth.”

Taking a shot

On the identical day because the white snow/yellow snow discussions of Romeo and Juliet, Vogelsinger took a unique method in one in every of his lessons. For third interval, he went with a basketball dialogue. To kick issues off, students ripped a web page out of their notebooks and answered one query: If you would inform one character one factor that may repair this entire play (aside from the way it ends), what wouldn’t it be?

After a number of minutes of scribbling, Vogelsinger instructed students to crumple their web page right into a ball. The concepts they’d written could be the launching level for the dialogue. The paper balls could be launched right into a plastic blue crate on the entrance of the room.

Students raised their fingers to talk, and thrice throughout the interval, Vogelsinger paused the dialog. At these moments, everybody who’d spoken up up to now might stand and take a shot with their paper ball. By the top, solely three class members hadn’t participated. Vogelsinger collected the crumpled papers from these students earlier than they exited.

In the empty classroom, he smoothed the pages, and his eyes tracked over the penciled phrases. One pupil wrote: I might inform Romeo that Lady Capulet is sending an murderer after him, as a result of she’s going to ship somebody with poison to Mantua to kill him.

Students in Brett Vogelsinger’s English class at Holicong Middle School shoot paper balls right into a basket throughout a dialogue of Romeo and Juliet. (Kara Newhouse/KQED)

“That was a great observation. I kind of wish it would have come up in class, but I can still respond to the student now this way,” Vogelsinger stated. That’s key. In the basketball dialogue, the prospect to shoot the ball might encourage children who like to maneuver, whether or not introverted or extroverted. But the written responses be certain that Vogelsinger will get a window into the considering of students who decide out of talking.

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