5 Ways to Cure The Introvert Hangover

By nature, introverts prefer calm, minimally stimulating environments. Sooner or later, all introverts will experience the dreaded 'introvert hangover,’ which is the feeling of being completely wiped out from too much ‘people time’ or stimulation. This can mean feeling fatigued, unable to concentrate, or even irritable. It’s as if your brain has used up all its mental energy and just doesn’t have any left.

An introvert hangover is, simply put, a withdrawal into oneself brought on by overstimulation.

From structured seating to creating visual noise without realizing it, our classroom design can overstimulate introverts and make the school day grueling. It may start with a noisy bus ride to school and continue with a crowded hallway full of teachers and students. Once in class, students might be forced to work on a group project because group work is on-trend in education these days. Lunch is up next in a loud, boisterous cafeteria, to be followed with the fragile social hierarchy of recess. The afternoon is much like the morning, until finally they make it home and retreat to the silence of their room.

A nurturing environment can have a lasting and profound impact on the quiet kids in your classroom. Following are ideas to inspire you to take stock of your learning space. You’ll be surprised at how much these strategies serve your entire classroom, and not just the quiet kids.

1. Allow kids to take a break. Many schools have strict rules about students getting up and leaving the classroom–especially students leaving to get up and go to the bathroom. In some cases students are not allowed to leave during instructional time and may only have the first or last two or three minutes of the period to use the restroom.

There will be times when students need a break. Sometimes it is a bathroom break, a drink of water, or simply a walk down the hall. Establish a rule in your classroom regarding your students taking short, mental breaks, You need to figure out what works best for you and your students, and go with it.

2. Use silent signals. The idea behind silent signals is for kids to have a quick and easy way to communicate with the teacher without interrupting the flow of the lesson. Picture this: You are in a groove with your lesson, the kids are engaged and loving the experience, and then a student raises a hand. You think they are going to add a groundbreaking comment to the discussion, but instead, they ask to go to the bathroom. Most of us have had a moment like that.

Try and keep your system simple. Have students hold up their fingers to indicate that they need something, so they don't have to interrupt the class. For example, one finger is for a bathroom/drink, and two fingers is for “I need a break,” which means the student was going to leave for a few minutes.

Embed this system into your classroom culture and discuss it on the first day of school to use the system throughout the year. Be prepared for kids to test the waters and overuse the signals at first. This is to be expected, especially if you are in a more traditional school and the teachers before you did not allow this kind of student empowerment. By the second week, the novelty wears off, and those who need the signals will make appropriate use of them.

3. Create a quiet corner. A Quiet Corner is not only for those students who need a few minutes to work through frustration or anger, but for those who need a break from the action. When introducing the Quiet Corner to your students, go over the basic rules for how you use the space and what is and is not allowed. For example: only one person at a time, respect the materials, respect your classmates, no yelling, and no throwing.

The key to creating your own Quiet Corner is to include three main components: comfortable (make sure it has a comfortable place to sit), a sensory activity (like a fidget device or anti-stress toy), and most importantly, calming (include a glitter jar, soothing music, or an app like Calm to help students focus their breathing and find quiet within a bustling classroom). You will find that many students will be curious about this area as a novelty, and will want to try it out. Over time, those who truly need a break will make use of it properly.

4. Think about the sounds in your room. These sounds are not the noise levels when students are working, but a noise that exists in your room every day that may impact learning. For instance, a distracting noise that can be avoided is the dreaded pencil sharpener. Even though we are in the throes of technology integration, kids still need pencils from time to time.

Tackle this issue with an easy solution. Alongside the electric sharpener have two containers: one labeled SHARP and the other DULL. Start each day with a full cup of sharp pencils and as students need them, they replace their dull pencil with a sharp one. This simple routine will eliminate the pencil sharpening distraction. 

5. Provide alternatives to lunch recess. Some students do not like recess and are overwhelmed by what is supposed to be a relaxing break. As an alternative, open your room during lunchtime a few days a week so kids have a quiet place to reboot before continuing the day. Kids can choose to get lost in a book, play a game, color, draw, write, or just have a conversation with each other. The key here is that all of these activities are low-key, so kids just have time to chill and regroup for their afternoon.

By keeping your introverted students in mind and doing simple things, you can make a lasting impact on them. Find the best ways to accommodate your introverted students and help them soar to new heights.

Main post image by Srijit Mudi from Pexels

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