Slice of Life - Affirmation Through TED Talks #slice2014

Last summer, I was hoping to participate regularly in the Slice of Life challenge at Two Writing Teachers.  Then life got in the way.  I keep hoping to post regularly.  At this point, I seem to post when I have something that feels important.  If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here.

When I was a child, I quickly learned that being an extrovert was preferred over being an introvert.  Not only preferred but that it was somehow better to be outgoing than introspective and that there was something inherently wrong with me as a result of my personality.  At the time, it wasn't that anyone specifically commented to me that being an extrovert was better, but it certainly was something I could sense being communicated by those around me.  And surprisingly, the subtle message from childhood became a much more explicit message at various times in my career. 

Over the years, I would watch extroverts in social situations and truly felt pangs of envy. I discovered that if I had a very specific role or task I could manage in a large, unstructured setting.  If I could create a smaller community within a larger one then I could be more successful.  And despite, years and years of experience, I still dislike large social situations.  Give me a small dinner party with a few friends over a large social mixer any day. 

Recently, while I was having dinner with Donalyn Miller (The Book Whisperer, and Reading in the Wild), she mentioned that she was reading Brené Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection and suggested that I also watch the TED Talk by Brown entitled Listening to Shame.  This led me to watch Susan Cain's Ted Talk about The Power of Introverts.

Take a minute to watch Brené Brown's Ted Talk - Listening to Shame.

Now take a few more minutes and watch the TED Talk - The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking 

These two TED Talks resonated with me.  They also made me think about the types of messages that we send to students on a daily basis. Are they messages that affirm or messages that convey that a child is inadequate or broken because of how they approach life or process information? Do we lift up or tear down?

One of the things that jumped out of Cain's talk was the following:

"And the vast majority of teachers reports believing that the ideal student is an extrovert as opposed to an introvert, even though introverts actually get better grades and are more knowledgeable, according to research." 

Now let's couple it with a quote from Brown's talk:

"Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior. Shame is "I am bad." Guilt is "I did something bad."

Listening to the two presentations back to back made those statements fall into place in a way that they might not have if I listened to them at separate times.  As teachers, are we communicating a message of shame to students who have a different learning style or preference?  We need to remember that for all of our students it is important to communicate that they are valuable and that their personalities and preferences are not wrong.  In a world where cooperative work is prized, can we create a place for both introverts and extroverts in the process? Can we celebrate that all personalities and learning preferences are valued?

Thank you Donalyn for recommending The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown.  I have downloaded the e-book and look forward to reading it.  And thank you Jen Vincent for sending me a copy of Quiet by Susan Cain. Your recognition and affirmation of my personal style is much appreciated.