I knew teaching was for me when I realized I loved being surrounded by dozens of bouncing first graders. Hair pulling? Jump roping? Screaming, singing, running, dancing? Multiplied by twenty kids? Bring it on
The more energy, the better. I thought I would be missing out on that energy by switching to teaching high school. Boy was I wrong about that. Turns out, my high school students are the most energetic people to be around.
"Ms. Tsai can I put the answer on the board?? Ms. Tsai DID YOU HEAR ME???" - An enthusiastic senior
"MS. TSAI!!!!" runs up to the smart board "Can I write the answer on the board??" another kid runs up too "NO I want to do it! You already had a turn!" - A competitive student and his friend
"Ms. Tsai. MS. TSAI!!! MS. TSAI!!!" I turn around and acknowledge the student "Guess what, I FINALLY get it" Ok great, thanks for interrupting me to tell me that - That kid who was throwing pencils at the ceiling a week ago
Yep, my teenagers are enthusiastic to say the least. It's a myth that high school students are too cool for school or too old to play in class. Although I'm motivated by my students' enthusiasm, their excitement can also be exhausting when thirty teenagers are all radiating their energy at the same time. After being around their energy all day, I feel totally wiped by the time 3 pm rolls around. Sometimes I'll come home at 4:00, fall asleep at 4:30, and wake up again at 6:30 just to recharge. The fact that I love teaching speaks to my extroverted side. I feel energized and motivated when I'm around my students. The energy is contagious and lifting. At the same time, I feel energetically drained by the end of the day. People who know me assume I'm 100% extroverted. Teaching has taught me that I'm actually 1/2 extroverted and 1/2 introverted.
Extroversion is the ability to absorb energy from outside sources (i.e. other people, energetic environments, concerts, parties...)
Introversion is the ability to draw energy from internal sources (i.e. alone time, yoga, meditation...)
The reality is.....school is exhausting for both teachers and students. Introverted students struggle even more to stay focused and energized throughout a typical chaotic school day. It's no wonder why so many students complain of being exhausted. In order to reach and support as many students as possible, teachers should find ways to energize their students' extroverted AND introverted energies.
Here's what's worked well for me so far.
Strategies for nurturing extroverted energy in students
Strategies for nurturing introverted energy in students