Introverts and the Small Class Setting

I'm feeling a little nervous today. Some friends are wanting me to join them at a bar this evening.

That's right. One of those big, darkened rooms filled with slightly drunken strangers where people expect you to drink and then pay for the privilege besides.

(I've heard some of these slightly drunken strangers are women looking for husbands.)

I know. It's all perception, all a quality world picture thing. The thing is, I have a quality world picture of me and a fishing rod alone in a flat-bottomed rowboat on the small lake pictured above. (Ahhh... I look at that picture and I can feel the tension slip away....)

The world can be a challenging place for us introverts.

Especially those crazy conference workshops where they do so-called ice breakers! Listen, people. Being forced to stand up and do odd or unexpected things in front of strangers does not break ice. It is painful, embarrassing, frustrating and fearful. I mean, I won't freak out and punch you or anything. But put me through one of these ice-breakers and I'll never, ever do a workshop with you again.

ANYway.... I was thinking today about how I sometimes get introverts in my class. I try really hard to remember how they feel. It's not enough, I know, to be welcoming in the initial meeting. Extroverts are very welcoming, nearly to a fault. I also need to be careful, slow, deliberate, low key.

The most useful initial-meeting idea I've come up with, I think, is sketching a quick seating plan. I point out where other people are sitting right now, and where any absent learners tend to sit. That, at least, should help ease that "new in the room - where will I sit?" tension.

Actually, that's the only initial-meeting idea I've come up with to help introverts be more comfortable.

I guess I'm a little surprised they come at all. I’m not sure I would.

But I'm glad they come, I really am. And I hope being an introvert myself helps me avoid some of the coarser mistakes I might otherwise make. Still, short of us all gathering in our own boats on a small lake...

Well, at least I don't hold my class in a darkened room full of slightly drunk strangers. That would be fearful indeed.

1 comment: said...

My Dad gave me a print of Le bateau atelier by Claude Monet ( I love to look at the painter in his wee studio... alone! Ahhhhhhh.....

I love spending time with people and am energized by their wisdom and grace -- but for every hour I spend with company, it seems that I need a couple of hours alone. If I cannot take this time to "reproduce myself," I start to get a little frantic.

How rarely we talk about how introverts learn and teach. Thanks for the post.