As School Becomes More Collaborative, How Do Introverted Teachers Cope?


Recognizing that many students will be expected to work well in groups later in life, many school leaders are emphasizing collaborative projects and learning spaces. That same transition is taking place for teachers as well, many of whom are clamoring for time to work with their peers and get feedback. But, with all noise about collaboration and breaking teachers out of isolation, are we forgetting about how to best support all teachers, including the introverted ones?

In his Atlantic article, Michael Godsey points out an unfortunate byproduct of collaboration excitement when enacted too zealously -- burnout for introverted teachers. He writes:

"In some ways, today’s teachers are simply struggling with what the Harvard Business Review recently termed 'collaborative overload' in the workplace. According to its own data, 'over the past two decades, the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more.' The difference for teachers in many cases is that they don't get any down time; they finish various meetings with various adults and go straight to the classroom, where they feel increasing pressure to facilitate social learning activities and promote the current trend of collaborative education."

Perhaps the solution here isn't to throw out the idea that collaborative work and learning are important, but rather to remember that each individual teacher (or learner) will have a unique approach to preparing their contribution to those situations. While learning is social and it is valuable for introverts to learn to collaborate too, there's no need to push great teachers out of the classroom simply because they need more quiet time to recharge.