Tales of a Shy Teacher

Today (and everyday) I’m incredibly grateful for the love and support that we receive through writing this blog. We honestly had no idea that anyone would read our random thoughts on teaching when we started blogging (I mean besides our parents, partners, and any friends we could force into it hehe) but the response has been overwhelmingly positive. We hit over 15,000 views this weekend and we have had some of the nicest comments about our blog. The part I love the most is when someone tells me that reading our blog has helped them with their own teaching practice or life. I am also so grateful for Karley and this friendship that has become so vital to my life in every way – more about that below.

So those of you who know me in real life know that I’m incredibly shy in certain situations, those of you who only know my online self might be surprised by this because man can I talk!! I usually describe myself as a shy extrovert – this may seem like an oxymoron but hear me out. I love being social and I love being the centre of attention… but only with people I know. Public speaking comes naturally to me… but I am tongue tied in a friendly conversation with someone I don’t know well. I have been known to talk rapid-fire for hours at a time… but there are many people that could count on one hand the number of words I said to them the first time we hung out. If you aren’t shy I realize this whole concept can be tough to understand – it’s like there is a block in my brain that goes up when I’m slightly less than comfortable. I’m not nervous about saying the wrong thing I literally have nothing to say. I could be in a conversation with a teacher who is my age, likes to run, loves crafting, who is holding the same book I am reading and my brain goes “uhhh… sorry got nothing for ya.” But once I’m comfortable with people I am bubbly, funny, and very talkative.

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I used to hate being shy more than anything else about myself, and to be honest sometimes I still do. There were so many times when I was young that I would miss out on something simply because I couldn’t bring myself to be in the situation where I wouldn’t know anyone. There are countless situations where I missed out on an experience or the opportunity to talk to someone I know I would have connected with because I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

But then there are also great moments for me that stand out in my mind – my first job interview in a group setting when I was 15 and I pushed myself to be more outgoing to show my true self (and I got the job!) or leaving home at age 18 to travel across the country by myself and making friends that I will have for the rest of my life. Being shy has forced me to overcome obstacles on a daily basis and I am so proud of these moments that have helped shape who I am.

So how does all this affect my teaching? In so many ways that I could probably bore you all with a book but instead I’ll just narrow it down to a few…

Making professional connections (and friends!) So far in this career I have made some amazing connections with a wide variety of people but it hasn’t been easy. I know I have missed out on a few opportunities already to make strong connections that I wish I hadn’t but that is a part of learning about myself in this realm. I am so thankful for having Karley by my side through this whole “becoming a teacher process” because she helps me so much with these connections. My mom always noticed the pattern of me making good, outgoing friends at important transitional times in my life and I think that Karley was just what I needed during this time because she makes me feel so much more comfortable when we are together and she has introduced me to some pretty awesome people! Pushing myself to do different things that I feel anxious about is still a strategy I use daily. I have joined an art club with some great teachers that I did not know very well and I am really enjoying getting to know these new people. I have noticed that my ability to overcome shyness is affected by my stress level as well so I know that report card time is not when I will make new connections but professional development days are a great time for me to connect.

Blogging. Online is always easier to express yourself which can be a negative for shy people who become hidden by this online presence. So far, for me, I’ve found that it has really helped me to connect with other teachers who have read the blog. It’s nice that they know a little bit about me and it makes me feel more at ease in the situation not having to share everything in a first meeting. Sometimes I also find it difficult after I have shared something vulnerable online and I don’t always want to have that conversation – Please don’t refrain from talking to me about my blog in person though because mostly I love to and it’s also good for me!

Starting up a classroom. I do realize this is hard for everyone in different ways but if you aren’t a shy person think about adding that complete anxiety of opening up to 30 new people every time you start a new class. I find that with a new class I am very slow-to-warm and it takes me a while to hit my stride in a classroom. (For some reason TOCing is easier for this – probably because I don’t have to make as deep relationships). Because this is so hard for me, this fall in particular has been really a roller coaster with investing myself into three different classrooms on an emotional level. But I also see a lot of benefit in gradually building a presence in the classroom. I think it makes room for the student’s personalities more and really helps build a tight community.

I know that being shy is a lifelong challenge for me but I am getting better at seeing the positive that comes out of it and not being to hard on myself. Even just taking a deep breath and speaking my anxiety before entering a situation where I will feel shy seems to help me to get over the initial shyness I feel. I am also grateful to be in a profession with a lot of kind, friendly and genuine people – it definitely makes it a lot easier so thank you wonderful teachers!

Meaghan

14 thoughts on “Tales of a Shy Teacher

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  4. This is EXACTLY how I am too. It’s not that I’m not interested, it’s just my mind is completely blank until I can gauge that person and feel fully comfortable around them! It’s nice to know I’m not the only one. I love your blog. I’m also in college working to become a teacher:)

    • I think teaching is the perfect profession for a shy person who doesn’t want to always be shy! You have to push yourself but are generally around pretty awesome, caring people to help you out. I’m so happy you found this post, Keli. Good luck on your teaching journey!

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  6. Oh wow! This is probably the most accurate description of shyness I’ve ever read! I too am a shy extrovert, and while I truly enjoy teaching (I’m in my second year at the moment) I have found it challenging to make professional connections, because my brain literally goes blank when I’m around people I don’t know very well. Thanks for the inspiration that it can get better!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • It definitely does get easier Emma! And I really believe that people who take longer to make connections are often just making more meaningful connections. Good luck with this crazy, busy, amazing job! Thanks for your comment.

  7. I’m glad I found this! I am in my first year of teaching, and I am a shy person. It really makes me worried about my career, but I hope to overcome my anxiety and do the best I can!

    • I’m glad you found this too, Gretchen! You will be fine. It does take some getting used to but remember you aren’t the only one who feels that way and everyone has different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to teaching. You will be able to connect with the students in a different way and that is a great thing!

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