I have an ongoing conversation going with one of our educators about the “invisible kids” in her classroom. It started with my efforts this year to shadow students as a way of observing our school systems and instruction from a student’s point of view. One of the students in her class that i was observing matched the description of the “invisible child” that I’d read about in the past. I sent the teacher an email that included a link to an article and asked if she thought she had any students like those described in the article in her class. She immediately responded that she absolutely felt there were several students that fell into that category and that she’d be eager to talk more about this.
Together we started looking for articles and information. Largely, we found information about introverts in the classroom:
- Introversion and the Invisible Adolescent by Mark Phillips
- Invisible Children by Margaret Berry Wilson
- Embracing Introversion: Ways to Stimulate Reserved Students in the Classroom by Tony Baldasaro
We’ve only begun the discussion, but we immediately recognized that there are ways I can support not only the introverts in the classroom, but those that are members of our professional staff as well. The characteristics that apply to introverts don’t necessarily change from a student introvert to an adult!
As an educational leader I need to:
- make sure that I observe those students in the classroom…see how they interact with the instructional environment, the teacher, group decision making opportunities and continue to encourage a dialogue with teachers about it
- make the same observations and adjustments within staff conversations. Using protocols that provide opportunities for our introverted educators to be involved in the conversations, providing opportunities for their voices to be heard and engaged in a manner that’s supportive to them. Many of the above articles share how in many group decision making systems extroverts can dominate the energy, and introverts creativity can be lost. Tell me you haven’t seen that happen in staff discussions!
- keep this at the front of decisions, instructional development and our own school systems. It can be awfully easy to skip over these folks, student or staff!