So what if introverted teachers leave?
Posted January 30, 2016on:
There seemed to be a considerable reaction on Twitter to The Atlantic article, Why Introverted Teachers Are Burning Out.
According to the article:
…some teachers are citing their introversion as a reason why today’s increasingly social learning environments are exhausting them—sometimes to the point of retirement.
The article provided cases and mentioned research to support the premise that some teachers burn out because of the pressure to collaborate socially.
Teachers leave the profession for as many reasons as those of other jobs. Ask anyone from human resources candid enough to share and you will hear these reasons and more: Poor fit, better prospects elsewhere, change in perspective, shift in priorities.
I am not making light of the fact that extreme introverts might have issues in the staffroom and classroom. But to attribute introversion as a key reason why teachers burn out is an emotional one disguised as logic.
A logical reason presumes you can quantify or adequately describe what being an introvert is. If the article struggled to provide an agreed-upon definition for it, how can you measure it or describe it?
Perhaps introversion is a gestalt of a person. Like porn, introversion is difficult to define or measure, but you know it when you see it.
In the case of teacher exits, the crux of the issue might lie in the second paragraph:
A few studies suggest that introverted teachers—especially those who may have falsely envisioned teaching as a career involving calm lectures, one-on-one interactions, and grading papers quietly with a cup of tea—are at risk of burning out.
Being an introvert or even deeply introspective should not prevent you from working with people and being collaborative. Poor expectations and the unwillingness to change do.
Teachers take on many roles. One is to be actors. They might be required to pretend to be what they are innately not in order to suit the circumstances and do what is better for students.
The teachers that were described in the article might not have expected to teach less and differently. It is much more challenging to facilitate, collaborate, and balance varied learning needs. It is even more challenging to do this consistently and within a system that is still learning how it needs to change.
What seems sad for the school bubble is that good people leave. However, the people that leave join other systems outside that bubble. They help teachers and learners where they are. They might no longer be teachers of standalone, artificially tested content; they can be educators of people in the wider, authentic contexts of life.