Why you should call on introverts first

Jen Bradbury
Jun 07 · 5 min read

At a recent event, I noticed a student sitting quietly off to the side, seemingly disengaged from her peers and the teaching. Her youth worker noticed too but chalked her disengagement up to the fact that she was an introvert and decided to just let her be.

During a large group discussion later that day, the youth worker asked a question and the introvert’s hand shot up, eager to answer it. Unfortunately, several other students’ hands went up at the same time.

The youth worker, not used to having the introvert participate, failed to notice her and instead called on the hand of a student he knew better. He then proceeded clockwise around the table from there, attentively listening to each student share their response.

As each student shared, the introvert’s hand got a little lower. She lost confidence in her response until finally, by the time the youth worker reached her side of the table, her hand was no longer raised.

By not noticing this student and inviting her to participate immediately, this youth worker missed the opportunity to engage her. Her peers missed the opportunity to hear her unique perspective.

It can be tempting to not pay any attention to the order in which you call on students, to think that the order doesn’t really matter. It might even seem to make sense to call on students in the order in which they raise their hand. Or to start with someone you know well and proceed in an orderly direction from there.

However, when you do that, you risk making the same mistake this youth worker did: You miss inadvertently ignoring the introverts in your group.

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