Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Introverted Students

I have just started teaching financial education in the public school classroom. Although I was apprehensive about trying to engage high school students in the importance of financial literacy, I am loving every moment of my experience. My only challenge is trying to engage the introverted students.

This is an odd confession, especially since I am an introvert myself in many, but not all, respects. Like the typical introvert, I enjoy some alone time to recoup and better deal with life's unexpected twist and turns. I am also very observant and reserved at times. Unlike many introverts, I love interacting with others, and when in the right environment, I can be very outspoken. So why am I having a difficult time dealing with introverted students?

I made a jump into corporate America three years ago and realized that at times, you must get out of your comfort zone to survive. That is a strange realization with all the investments corporations are putting into employee care. Millions of dollars are spent on understanding and satisfying employees these days, and you would assume that being yourself should be the message. It's the ideal, but not the reality. Like many educators and leaders, this hypocrite decided that the answer to getting these introverted students engaged is to challenge them into participating. Not that I have been demeaning or insensitive, just persistent and nagging at times.

It was the wrong move because to better raise an interest in children of any age or setting, it is wiser to accept them for who they are. Perhaps in the past the assumption has been that corporate America, especially in the financial world, was so cut throat that you had to diverge from your natural self to better compete. That is no longer the case, especially with all the awareness these days about accepting and understanding diversity in the workplace not only in the ethnic and religious sense, but personality-wise as well.

Instead of falling for the hype that has been engrained in so many of my generation, I will espouse the new trend of accepting these kids for who they are and changing my teaching style to reach out to them. Rather than reinforce the idea that they must be more vocal and noticeable, I will work to teach them how to use their personalities to their advantage. We owe the new generation that much. If we are going to trust them to run this world when the time comes, then we must trust them to stay true to themselves.

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