Adapting my Teaching Style to Connect with Introverted Students

My in-class style is energetic, active, and passionate. I know that’s my style and that it doesn’t necessarily connect with all of my more introverted students. So this semester I’m trying to find ways to include those students who, for whatever reason, don’t share the same level of enthusiasm during class. Sure some of the students may identify as introverts, but I think this extends to those who might have lots on their mind, or might not be feeling well, or are tired, and so on.

Consider Watching:

A few weeks ago I watched Susan Cain’s Ted Talk The Power of Introverts (~18 min). The speech talks about the benefits introverted people bring to educational and workplace environments. It got me thinking about my in-class style and how I might be missing an opportunity to engage some of my quieter students.


3 stickers
3 stickers: Slow down, Silence = burning, and 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Right after the video, I put up three stickers on my laptop to remind me to slow down, provide more time for reflection, and lastly, to assume that quieter students might be burning with questions or thoughts about the lesson rather than just being tuned out. (Sort of like when you ask a student to put down their phone to find out that they were looking something up for clarification.)

You can follow Susan Cain on Twitter

Tips to Try:

  1. Wait 5 seconds
    • Wait 5 seconds after asking a question so that more students can formulate a response.
  2. Think – INK – Pair – Share (TIPS)
    • Goal here is to give students time to document (ink) their thinking before sharing.
    • The extra time might help introverted students to better capture and formulate their thoughts as well as prepare for the sharing component
    • TIPS template
    • (thanks to Nikki Monohan for sharing)
  3. Use name cards
    • I saw a variation of this idea regarding feelings. Sorry, I can’t recall the source.
    • Use names cards as a mechanism for students to communicate their level of participation e.g., blue font facing the teacher suggests that they have high energy and want to engage versus black font implying lower energy and or a request for some personal space.
    • Students decide what side faces the teacher and can change them at any time.
Name cards
“Danny” name cards written in blue and black fonts

Universal Design for Learning:

From my perspective, I see the above tactics as ways to Facilitate personal coping skills and strategies.  For example, the name card allow students to reflect on their mindset at the point of learning and to share that mindset with you, their teacher.  They can change the message when it makes sense to them. Doing so could help them to cope with the learning environment.  Plus, an added benefit is that both teachers and students can address each other by name.

In what ways do you reach out to or engage introverted students?

One Reply to “Adapting my Teaching Style to Connect with Introverted Students”

  1. Good tips! To go even further with giving students time to formulate thoughts is to provide an online forum for any post class discussion thoughts.

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