top of page
  • Writer's pictureAdrian Bethune

5 Tips for Thriving as an Introverted Teacher

I have a theory about introversion and teaching. I am a self-proclaimed introvert and, having worked in education for some time now, I have a hunch that the majority of teachers err towards introversion.

We are, for the most part, ‘bookish’ creatures (I mean that in the best way possible), with a passion for our subject and the kids. Our class is our domain and, largely, we are in charge of that space.

But, here’s the thing. Teaching also comes with a few responsibilities that might push us out of our introverted comfort zones – public speaking, loud volumes, unplanned interruptions to our class, observations and dealing with parents. And I genuinely believe that this is why many teachers feel completely spent at the end of the school day and could be a big factor in teacher burn-out in the long run.

So, how can introverted educators thrive throughout the school day without falling flat on our faces at the end of it? This World Introvert Day (2nd January) I'm sharing the strategies I've developed over the years:

Build in quiet time in the classroom

We all recognise the importance of quiet time for children’s learning, but it doesn’t just benefit them. It’s important to recognise your need for some calm throughout a typically hectic day so don’t feel afraid to look for those mutually beneficial opportunities.

Practicing mindfulness with your class is a great way to achieve this. Start by identifying the moments in your school

day that typically become more raucous such as transitions between activities or just after lunch break. Experiment with introducing a calming, mindful activity that resonates with your class. You might have to try a few to find the ones that work, and they don’t have to be long to have an impact.

There are some fantastic books out there to help introduce mindful activities into the classroom. Take a look at Peaceful Piggy Meditation or Moody Cow Meditates by Kerry Lee Maclean. MforLearning is also a great account to follow on Twitter or Instagram for more ideas.

Take a walk at lunch time

I know it’s hard BUT taking 10 minutes to have a walk outside on your own will have so many benefits – not just for your physical health. Not only will the movement help to reinvigorate your mind and body but being outside in nature and away from the hustle and bustle of the school building will help you to re-set for the afternoon. Even the physical act of raising your gaze to the sky has been proven to impact your mental and physical wellbeing.

And if this isn’t accessible to you at lunch time, then why not take 10 minutes after school to prioritise some alone-time before plunging head-first into home-life.

Face the music

One trick that always helps me to prepare for a busy day ahead in the classroom is to have my favourite piece of music playing as the children arrive. I will often choose something that I associate with a peaceful or happy moment which sets me off on the right foot for the day. And, playing music has been shown to influence behaviour, so a piece of calming music can set you and your class up for a calm, productive morning.

Develop your rituals

The Dalai Lama stands holding a drawing in a frame being presented by 4 school children. Adrian Bethune stands in the background, smiling.
Adrian on stage with his pupils and the Dalai Lama plus an audience of over 2000!

As a teacher, public speaker and trainer, many people are surprised to hear me describe myself as an introvert. But being introverted doesn’t mean that you can’t thrive at typically extroverted endeavours.

Something I speak about regularly is the benefit of rituals. Rituals are systematic things that you do to emotionally and physically prepare for something. When I’m facing those pre-talk nerves there are several things I do to ground myself and gain perspective on my situation:

1) If opportunity allows, I try to do something physical such as go for a walk or run. Being outside in nature whilst moving your body will give you a double hit of ‘happy hormones’ such as endorphins and dopamine. Physical movement will also help your body to process any stress hormones in your system and will take your mind off the task ahead for a while.

2) I listen to my favourite music. Much in the same way that music can create moments of calm, it can also get you pumped up to face the music (excuse the pun!).

3) I look at a funny or fond photo of my family to remind myself of the bigger picture and that ultimately, even if I totally fluff the keynote I’m about to deliver, my family still love me and that’s all that matters!

Everyone’s rituals will look different, and you may even be doing some without having labelled them as ‘rituals’. Ultimately, it’s about finding the things that ground you and prepare you for the task ahead. You might even find, like me, that you really enjoy the things you naturally shy away from.

Find your energy source!

Introversion and extroversion were once described to me as ‘where you get your energy from’. If you’ve had a hard day at work and return home exhausted, do you immediately pick up the phone and chat through your day with someone, or do you long to curl up alone with your favourite book or tv programme and be left alone for the first hour or so?

Recognising and honouring what you need after a busy day is key and is totally acceptable (in fact it’s essential) to prioritise that!

So, whether you identify as introvert, extrovert or ambivert (somewhere in between) it’s imperative that you develop your own tactics to preserve and nourish your energy. The future of our profession depends on it!

Interested in the topic of introversion in education? Read our Q&A with Richard Etienne, Founder of Black Introvert Week UK, who are currently running a research project on the topic.

1,134 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment

Francois Stalder
Francois Stalder
Jan 04, 2023

Great reminders for an introvert like me. Thank you, Adrian! I do do sustained silent reading with each of my classes, take time away and run 5k on the school track 3 times a week during the school day. I also spend time planning, especially for my next holiday :). Nothing new for me, but it is helpful to know that other introvert teachers are doing the same. @MrStalder

bottom of page