Hello, Amazing Teachers! This week I want to share my journey as an introverted online teacher. A few months ago I recorded a video on YouTube sharing my experience. I have felt an urging to share on our blog as well. I believe you can use your introverted traits as your superpower!
This is not just an extroverts game!
For many years I dreamed of teaching. Life had other plans for me first, and I found myself working behind a desk. I was climbing the corporate ladder and before I knew it 17 years flew by like a wink of an eye!
So, I cashed in all my chips, moved to Europe and after some soul searching decided to follow what my true love has always been, teaching. Teaching online paired perfectly with my preferred lifestyle; one that allows me to have a flexible schedule. So, I consulted the internet for guidance on where to begin. Instantly, I was bombarded with demo videos of these super bubbly, out-going, camera loving teachers. It scared me at first because that is not me whatsoever! Being a product of the ’80s and ’90s, growing up in a generation of passing notes vs. having long-standing snap streaks, being behind the camera was daunting. My entire life, I have looked at being an introvert as something that gets in the way of doing things that I wanted to do. The truth is, this was an excuse I created. Being an introvert gives you labels, and I let those labels hold me back. Introverts get labeled as shy, quiet, etc. None of these are the actual truth. An introvert does not mean shy. That is when I realized there is a spot for me, an introvert, in online teaching. We have natural attributes that make us excellent educators.
Introverts have remarkable qualities that sometimes get overshadowed in a society built around extroverts. We are dubbed too quiet or just plain weird at times. While that may be true; at least some of the time. Here is why I believe being an introvert will work to your advantage in online teaching and why I think you will thrive in this environment.
You are a great listener.
As an introvert, you are an excellent listener. In this fast-paced world, many have started to concentrate more listening to respond quickly, allowing them to move on to the next task. Instead, we should be listening to understand. Considering that empathy comes naturally, this is not an overly challenging task for you. Being a good listener is essential to being an effective teacher. Your students will know that you are listening to them by the way you interact with them and by how well you get to know them throughout a few classes.
You are focused and observant
Introverts tend to be super focused! Being focused helps you tune into your lessons with your students. You have a precious 25 minutes, with at least 5-6 of those minutes missed on beginning and closing out your class time. Your focus will help the student focus. In addition to being focused, introverts are observant. As an online ESL teacher, this is crucial. Your keen observation skills will help you pick up on those valuable non-verbal queues from your students. These non-verbal queues will tell you what the student will not verbalize. You will understand their level of comprehension better, thus making you a better teacher.
You are creative.
Introverts are creative. Now, I don’t mean that you are artistically talented; nevertheless, it means you easily think creatively. You think outside the box; better yet, you think like there is no box! Nothing is holding you back! If you were blessed with artistic talent, excellent! I have the artistic ability of a 5-year-old. Still, my students love my silly little crafts. You also have a knack for quickly thinking of creative examples to help pull the lesson together. Such as how you explain words and phrases. Whether your creativity comes out in arts and crafts or other ways, this is a superpower!
You are empathetic.
Human connection is so important. You can use your gift of empathy in the classroom, building trust with your students through understanding. When you have rooted trust between you and your student; you will open more doors for them to learn from you. Let’s face it, kids and adults alike are under many pressures in everyday life. Whether it is school, work, family, or a combination of these things, it will impact their performance in class. Your natural empathy towards others, coupled with your keen observations skills; will help you read your student’s mood instantly. There are times when I can see my student is under stress or just having a bad day. It is then I will push the lesson aside and free talk. I do this with adults and with my older kids. We are all human; we all have bad days. It does not benefit the student to force a lesson when they are not in the right headspace. Free talk helps them much more; not only in learning conversation skills but by building trust, building a bond that will allow for you, the teacher, to teach them more.
You are a superstar!
Personally speaking, teaching online is the ideal situation for me. I do like my alone time; I need to recharge after spending time with others, including my students. When my day is over, I open my office door, and I am instantly in my quiet place. There is no frustrating drive home, no unwanted conversations as I am trying to duck out of the office. Instead, I am instantly able to begin recharging my batteries and nurturing my internal energies.
If you are an introvert and have doubts about online teaching, I encourage you to step outside your comfort zone and give it a try. Your students will appreciate what you bring to the table. You may not be as animated and bubbly as some of the teachers on YouTube, but there are many students not looking for that. I have received compliments on how serious, yet friendly and goofy I am in my classes. There is a place for you. Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, you have gifts that are meant to be shared. We are unique, yet we are the same, and thus relatable to many. Get out there and share what you have to offer!