The Power of Quiet

In anticipation of our long drive to Panama City Beach, Florida my girls and I visited the library to sign out some audio books. After reading several jacket covers and discussing options, we decided on an interesting selection of books – The Giver, by Lois Lowry; The Nest, by Kenneth Oppel; Magyk, by Angie Sage; The Poe Estate, by: Polly Shulman. But the one that struck me as a particularly interesting choice was made by Kyenna. She selected Quiet Power – The Secret Strengths of Introverts, by: Susan Cain.

It is a guide for kids and teens about the power that they possess. While it manly focused on understanding the Quiet/Introverted perspective, it also spoke to the power of understanding who you are and capitalizing on your strengths. The book took us most of our Saturday drive to listen to, and we have some amazing discussions as we went – pausing the book and talking about the content was a great way to pass the time!

As we talked about their experiences with learning and how they identify themselves. The book had a “non-scientific” screening tool in it. Questions where you answer true/false to questions and then tally it up to see where you fall on the spectrum of introversions – extroversion. We all scored as introverts, with Mara being a bit closer to an ambivert (a balance of both). Many would agree with the identification of Kyenna as an introvert, but not necessarily with Mara’s score. On the outside Mara appears to be much more extroverted, but in actuality she tends more towards introversion; needing her “restoration” time alone to balance herself out. She learned several years ago that she needs to meditate, do yoga, listen to music, or read quietly in her room to centre herself and regroup. Kyenna is still on her journey to discovering what she needs in order to capitalize on her strengths.

After we completed this process, I spent time reflecting on my own experiences with understanding myself and my needs, and thinking about how others might see me (I had a lot of time on my hands during the 12 hour drive). I think that others would say that I am more extroverted, confident, and socially oriented. While I may appear this way on the outside, that is definitely NOT how I feel on the inside. I struggle to put myself of there – whether it is in person or even with sharing parts of my thinking with my blog. I know what my strengths are and I think I use them effectively. As time as passed, and I have had more experiences, I have learned what I need and what I have to do in order to “perform” at the level that has come to be expected of me. I prepare myself well in advance for presentations in order to feel and appear confident; I try and spend time each day to re-charge my batteries as well (but I do need to get better at this).

  • So how do you identify yourself – Introvert, extrovert, ambivert?
  • How do others see you?

This discussion and exploration also got me thinking about my students and my desire to take on more leadership roles in our system. I think that by better understanding the needs of all learners, I will be able to meet their needs more effectively. I differentiate teaching and learning to help my introverted/shy students learn and share their learning with others – small group discussions, blogging to share learning, building confidence in self/knowledge before sharing thinking, choice of consolidation activities to best meet individual student needs.

  • On the professional side, it made me wonder if as a “system” we do enough of this for the teachers too.
  • Are we supporting educators and capitalizing on their strengths in order to improve teaching practice?
  • Are we encouraging innovation in practice?
  • Does our leadership model focus and promote the “extrovert” more often?
  • How can we tap into the strengths and abilities of our “introverted” staff?

The day of listening and reflection has inspired me to explore this idea more deeply. I plan on sharing a few chapters of the audio book with my students upon return from the March break. I want to open this topic up for discussion in my classroom in order to help my students to discover their own personal gifts. I will likely be heading to the bookstore to purchase the adult version of the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain (which I have picked up many times, but have not yet purchased). I will also be investigating the website Quiet Revolution.

  • What can you do to explore your strengths in greater detail?
  • How can you consider the needs of others around you (students, colleagues, employees/staff) and adjust your thinking to better interact with them?

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