If you were like me in class, you preferred to observe. You liked to take in your environment and soak in all the details. When it was time for a class discussion, you preferred to listen rather than assert your opinion.
You spent a lot of time thinking, daydreaming, and processing on your own. You were a classic introvert.
Unfortunately, there are many ways our educational system overlooks introverts. Teachers mistake a quiet disposition for being aloof or disinterested in class material. When it comes to being an introverted student, you definitely don’t want to be overlooked. You can try to skate around it if you want — but you do need to stand out. This will also be true in college, where there will be even more students.
If you’re feeling uncomfortable trying to channel your extroverted side, here are three tips to help you assert yourself in the classroom.
1. Ask for a Time to Approach the Teacher Individually
This may or may not be a little intimidating. But, if you’re usually incredibly shy, this will make an extra good impression on your teacher who would have never expected it! If your teacher is asking a lot of questions to the classroom and looks your way while you continue to keep your hand vigilantly on your desk, this means you need to show your interest. Try walking up to the teacher after class and complimenting them on the lesson plan, telling them what fascinated you.
2. Ask for Independent Work
OK — this is for the kind of introvert who is also not very socially oriented in more ways than one. I know I’m not alone when I say I dreaded working on projects with other people (especially in high school). In college, you will probably not worry about any group projects, but you still got a ways to go before then. So, when a teacher says there is a group project, you may want to say that you are “incredibly busy” (which you probably are) and would prefer to complete the assignment independently. If they still don’t budge, tell them you’ll do extra credit as well.
3. Propose Ways to Make up for Classroom Participation
Which leads us to the next time: come up with creative alternatives to show your participation. If class participation is a percentage of your grade, propose to turn in hand written or typed notes from the discussion. If there is a presentation, try offering to write a research paper (though public speaking is a valuable skill). Whatever it is, make sure that you’re not preventing yourself from growing in other ways — but also talk ownership of how you learn best.