Being a teacher who’s introverted is so challenging sometimes. I’m going to remind you first that it’s okay to want alone time. You need it, regularly. Although you love your kids, by Friday you likely feel like crawling into a cave to hibernate for the weekend. Normal, even funny, behavior on Monday grates on your nerves as your smile deserts you by Friday.
That late-week tiredness comes from what specialists call the “introvert hangover”. The hangover occurs when you’ve spent too much of your time interacting with others. You are running on empty, trying to get to your destination a hundred miles away with two dollars of gas.
So when your colleagues try to draw you into conversations during your plan time or lunch, remember that it’s okay to tell them you need to go to your classroom to do a few things. Or you can just tell them the truth, “I need to be alone”.
Extroverts don’t naturally understand the need to be alone. The majority of teachers are extroverts—they enjoy the energy of children and conversations with their colleagues as much as you enjoy any spare moment of alone time. An extrovert gains energy from those interactions with others.
So remember that you’re not shy. It’s more that introverts lose energy from interaction. So you need time to re-energize, digest information, and reflect. You feel more energized by time alone than by time with others. Give yourself time, then head back into the world, the one that most introverts want to change.
Introverts make wonderful teachers—you’re able to reflect and think about your lessons, students, and pedagogy. Please take all this advice—you’ll be a happier, comfortably introverted teacher.
Throughout the week, find time to be alone during the workday. Close the door to your classroom in the morning, during plan time, or lunch to allow time to re-energize your mind, body, and spirit. Your brain will be more ready to think of creative lessons, engaging activities, and handle student-specific needs.
On the weekend, I give you permission to read. Or take a walk. Alone. Reading on the couch on a Saturday afternoon while the rest of the family wants to watch football is fine. Or go to the bedroom. You don’t have to take the whole day—just a couple hours.
Really, it’s okay. You’ll smile more. You will be able to be present for your family when you are together, instead of a bleary-eyed zombie staring into the distance wondering why you can’t muster more energy.
Take care of your introverted self and know you are not the only one. There are others out there who want to help. We’re all in this together. We’re all being teacher.