My Name is Jackie. I’m an Introvert
The moral of this story is that although I like being around people and can often be found out and about on the town, large groups of them make me really tired. My biggest nightmare is a large group of people where I don’t know anybody-I can make friends and do the small talk thing, but it’ll leave me pretty exhausted.
One of my friends thinks about it in terms of energy credits. She says that each person has a certain amount of energy and some people (energy-vampires) or situations (loud parties) suck up large amounts while other times and with other people, it’s neutral or very little.
Perhaps you’re an introverted English teacher. What can you do to not feel like you’re slowly going insane? First of all, I recommend saying this to yourself a lot, “Serenity Now!” Beyond that, keep reading for some less fabulous advice.
Tips for Introverted ESL Teachers
You probably can’t be one of those super high-energy teachers like some of your colleagues. Don’t feel pressure to be this person. Students don’t always need that and many of them appreciate a chilled-out, relaxed class. You know, the one where they can breathe, think, quiet their mind. The introverts in your class will certainly appreciate it at the very least.
#2: Design your class well
Include plenty of pair and group time so you don’t have to be “on-stage” all the time. Limit the lecture time where there’s pressure to be funny and entertaining.
Out of a 90 minute class, I’ll always be up at the front talking for 10 minutes or less. Most days, it’s more like 5. And after all, we all know that student-centered teaching is best! Students should be doing most of the talking, not you.
Need help with activities that don’t involve you being the center of attention?
#3: Think carefully about overtime opportunities
Which OT opportunities will suck the life out of you and leave you with nothing and which will be a neutral? Classes of 10 or more? Sure, especially if it’s something like test-prep and not conversation. I’ll take it. 1-1 or 1-2? No way, especially if it involves anything related to “free-talking.” This involves me having to interact too much and will leave me exhausted.
#4: Boundaries: get some
And make them strong. Limit your office hours and if you’re in your office outside the office times, lock the door and don’t answer it. If things like “counselling” exhaust you, make it clear that you’ll help students with English related stuff, but not life kind of stuff. This is okay and you’re not a terrible person.
#5: Life outside of work: schedule in alone time
Limit social activities during the week. For example, I know that I will hate my life if I teach 7 hours in a single day and then go straight to a dinner with lots of people that I don’t know. I’ll be much happier having dinner at home and reading a book. I focus most of my friend energy for the weekend when I don’t teach.
Introverted English teachers: what’s your top tip to get through the week?