Debunking 4 Common Misconceptions About Introverts

In every classroom, you'll find a diverse group of students with unique personalities and learning styles. Among them, introverts are a group that often feels misunderstood and overlooked.

Many people, teachers included, believe that introverts share common characteristics of being shy, antisocial, or even rude. In truth, introverts may not have any of these traits. Let’s do our part to get rid of the stereotypes and clear up the misconceptions about introverts. Here are ways you can shed light on the truth about this personality type and bring out its best qualities

Misconception #1: Introverts don’t like to talk.

While it’s true that introverts are often comfortable with silence and don’t need to hear themselves speak to fill the space, that doesn’t mean they don’t like to talk. Many introverts do like to talk when they know they will add value to the conversation, or when they are invited to talk about topics they are especially interested in. 

Take Chrissy Romano's student, Tina, for example. In class, she would rarely raise her hand or talk to her peers, even in small groups or one-on-one. When Chrissy was getting to know her early on in the school year, she found out that she absolutely adored Pokemon and loved to draw. For a student who never spoke to anyone about anything, when asked about Pokemon, she could talk a blue streak.

Strategy: Look for the quiet kids and co-workers, and discover what they are most interested in talking about. Where possible, add aspects of student interests into the lessons. Provide opportunities to engage with them in the ways they are most comfortable, and on the topics they are most excited about. When they know they can add value or expertise to a discussion, they will be more likely to open up.

Misconception #2: All introverts are shy.

Being shy is the most common misconception, and feeds into the stereotype. But shyness and introversion are not the same things. According to, “Shyness is the fear of negative judgment, and introversion is a preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments.” This is not to say that an introvert cannot be both introverted and shy, but they are not mutually exclusive. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people; they just need a reason to interact.

Introverts, while on the surface may appear to be shy, are often great listeners and observers. As a teacher, you most likely have seen many students sit back, watch, and take it all in before trying a new activity or game. When encountering something new, introverts are almost never the first ones to jump in and give it a try (at least not publicly). They observe, watch how others attack the problem or play the game, notice the details, and then take a stab at it. That doesn’t make them shy. It just makes them cautious.

Strategy: Pay special attention to your quiet kids to see if their introversion includes a layer of shyness. Knowing this will help you create a variety of ways to engage them so you can find where they are most comfortable and where they welcome a challenge. Give all students a reason to interact in the classroom, including the quiet ones who need encouragement, and especially the shy ones who need good reasons if they are to engage.

Misconception #3: Introverts don’t like to be around people.

Although they prefer to be alone, they don’t want to be alone all the time. Flashy parties, significant events, or situations where small talk is the regular are exhausting for introverts, who often prefer more intimate gatherings. The best conversations are the ones where they can be themselves.

When introverts do attend large social gatherings, they can have a great time like the rest of the crowd, but it gets old fast. Most introverts value their close friends and keep their circle tight. Once an introvert considers you a friend, you have earned their loyalty. It’s usually true that introverts have more of a desire to share time with a person who is authentic and genuine.

Introverts do indeed enjoy being around people, just not for long periods. “Peopling” in small doses works best for them.

Strategy: Observe your introverts in class and watch for when they need a break from the constant “peopling” inherent in schools. Work to add natural breaks and opportunities to give them a bit of relief. A little break can offer big returns on student engagement from your quiet kids.

Misconception #4: Introverts are broken and need to be fixed.

Introverts do not need to be molded into extroverts. You may have seen many teachers try to force quiet kids into leading group work, taking a role in a school performance, or pairing with extroverted partners. Introversion isn’t a trait we need to “get over.” It is insensitive and rude to tell a person they are too quiet or need to “come out of their shell.” Introverts do not need to “fix themselves.” We need to do a better job of respecting the natural temperament of others.

Many introverts have painful memories of being told to change who they were and to act more like their extroverted peers. These messages typically start when introverts are young and continue into adulthood. If you have ever had anyone tell you to speak up, come out of your shell, stop being shy, be more assertive, or be less serious all the time, you understand what introverts go through. After years of being told they should change, many quiet kids and adults believe they are flawed. They view their introversion as an obstacle that needs to be overcome or a defect in their personality.

StrategyAim to change the message schools often send to introverted students that they should be more extroverted. Celebrate and welcome all student personality types and understand that introverts bring their own sets of valuable traits that balance out the classroom. Build up your introverted students and help them see themselves in a positive light by engaging them in ways that validate their quiet personas.

By embracing these insights teachers can create a more inclusive and supportive learning environment, where introverted students feel valued, understood, and able to thrive academically and personally.

Main post image by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

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