Being an introvert is not a bad thing. Recently there is a wave of writing discussing how schools are failing to meet the needs of introverts by creating classrooms that demand that students become extroverts in order to succeed.
These are the student who will share a great idea with you privately after class when the crowd has dissipated. These are the students who write the most amazing and insightful papers but during debates keep that insight to themselves. I have spent my entire career trying to find ways to make them feel comfortable enough to risk sharing in my class. In reality I have never found a way to hear from regularly. So they sit silently, all of their talents and gifts, their thoughts and ideas, present but unheard.
Today, if I were to lose the devices (iPads) that that my students have I would mourn the loss not of the technology but of the voices that my students have gained through having them.
One student, who I will call Ellis, (pseudonym) has never once voluntarily spoken in my class. Were this another year I would think that she had nothing to say. I would not even have pegged her as someone who is interested in politics, but because my class used a Today’s Meet room to discuss the Presidential debates I got to hear her share opinions and interact with her classmates. With electronic communication a person has the chance to see their words in writing before they share them. They can hone their thoughts more effectively then when put on the spot in class. And share she did, more effectively than any other student who joined the chat that night.
Unfortunately she is not in a 1:1 class. It is hard to replicate that moment and the conditions that let her find her voice and support her convictions.
If I take a good look at my 1:1 classes I can name many students who I would call leaders. Some are extroverts but more than a few are like Ellis; intelligent and inspiring introverts who under the right conditions have something to offer to the whole class. They raise questions about films and leave me stunned with their thoughtful advice to classmates on blogs. I can think back to past students who could have offered similar contributions, but lacked the tools and opportunities to do so. They had voices too.
You probably know a student like Ellis. Can you give them a voice? Can you help them speak louder or let more people hear them? We should strive to raise their voices above a whisper.