Let's talk this out.


Tell me what you want, what you really, really want.

I am very interested, and have been for years, working on building safe, active, and engaged discussion zones for students. One might even say it’s personal with me. Growing up, in schools and with peers I was made to feel ashamed for being “outspoken,” shamed and put in the corner or out in the hallway for talking, and told by friends my vocabulary was too much for them. And not because I want the world to pay attention to me, as an extrovert/ambivert, I want everyone to respect all styles of discourse. I listen to the quiet ones, made friends with all kinds of thinkers, and feel an ambassador myself to the large and small voices.

Yes, it’s personal. 

So when I saw this post shared by a friend, “A Mild Case of Fisheye” from the Cult of Pedagogy blog by Jennifer Gonzalez, I realized I had found another incredibly useful piece of instructional knowledge. Here is my exchange with my friend about the article:


So just how do I get buy-in from both the extroverts and introverts? I think it’s important to understand that both come from a place of fear. Not always, but yes. Fear of not being heard, and fear of being heard. And judged. Judged for not saying the witty, clever thing, for not being ‘on’ all the time, and judged for saying something not brilliant when the room has been waiting an eternity for the introvert to speak. Talk about pressure from both sides! And, according to Gonzalez’s article,

The quiet ones MUST learn to speak.
Every year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers surveys employers about the skills they most want in potential employees. In 2013, ‘verbal and written communication skills’ climbed to the top of the list. If our task is to help our students become college- and career-ready, we are responsible for helping them grow as talkers. All of our students — especially the quiet ones — must learn how to present their ideas effectively, and no amount of listening compares to the cognitive and social challenge of actually having to frame your thoughts into coherent spoken sentences. Although our painfully shy students will resist, and our compassion will make us want to protect them, we do them no favors by letting them avoid this practice. Writer and teacher Jessica Lahey, in her February 2013 Atlantic column, agrees: “If anything,” she says, “I feel even more strongly that my introverted students must learn how to self-advocate by communicating with parents, educators, and the world at large.”

Yeah…this isn’t quite as compelling a reason for me, because they’ll do better in the workforce. I want their own narratives to come first, then being able to express themselves clearly in any situation is the boon.

I’ve had to learn the hard way to put myself on mute. The trick is to take oneself off of mute, too. It’s a tricky balance. What I do know is this can’t wait until the extroverted kid is out sick, and I can’t depend (though I don’t, but it’s tempting) on digital means of social discourse. I do know the writer’s workshop model is a great way to pair thinking. I’m not sure why I’ve been hesitate to do real Socratic Seminar work though. It just feels too much like Quaker Meeting for me, waiting till the spirit moves us to speak. But I do like the ‘duck’ idea, and I really like the green cards idea of my friend’s. Visually monitoring how much oxygen we’re taking, or denying ourselves in the room sounds like a great way to keep kids focused, and that terrible word, “accountable.” But I’m not going to let that get in my way of what the bigger picture is: sharing ideas rocks. I love being quiet and telling a student, extrovert, introvert, or ambivert, “I never thought of it that way before, thank you!” What a gift.