How to Harness the Power of Quiet Kids


This week, NPR interviewed participants in the Quiet Summer Institute, a professional development program which encourages teachers to help introverted kids participate more effectively in the classroom. Heidi Kasevich, an educator who created curriculum which utilizes Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, described how educators are learning to harness the energy of all their students-- not just the extroverts and those eager to raise their hands first. Kasevich describes how “‘There are expectations on our kids a charismatic extrovert…’ (and) teachers tend to give more attention to the louder students.”

However, teachers at the Quiet Summer Institute are discussing how to effectively help more introverted students thrive in the classroom, while also “reimagining class participation” as “classroom engagement.” This means, teachers use acronyms like “W-A-I-T” which stands for “Why Am I Talking?” to help kids give each other the space to participate in different ways.

Kasevich describes how “‘Personality might be some of it...and we also might have kids who are quiet because they have been shut down. We might have kids that are quiet because they anticipate being shut down whether they have been or not.’”

She and Cain’s book suggest that introverts might not be shutting down in learning environments for lack of trying or out of fear, but because of inherent biases in the education and social system, like stereotypes or trouble at home.

Kasevich’s curriculum offers alternatives to a dialogue-driven classroom, like “drawing, writing, or working in pairs.” Educators from across the country came together to brainstorm new ideas and models for classroom engagement that works for all students.

Read the full article here. If you’d like to hear more about Susan Cain’s theories on the power of introverts, check out her TED Talk. Hughes College Prep offers the kind of one-on-one mentorship that helps introverts thrive, and find the future school that will be a great fit for their learning style.