Teaching and learning anything, including STEM, requires that teachers, students and administrators be aware of diversity in temperament and style. Read this email exchange with Heidi Kasevich, Director of Education at Quiet Revolution, a movement initiated by Susan Cain, author of bestselling book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that can’t stop Talking to gain an appreciation of the work that we all can do as Quiet Ambassadors in our school cultures and in other learning spaces.
How have you been involved with the Quiet Revolution?
I am currently the Director of Education at Quiet Revolution. After 25 years as an educator and department chair in the fields of World History and Leadership Development at independent schools in New York City, the opportunity arose for me to join Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution. The day that Susan Cain dubbed me a Quiet Revolutionary was one of the happiest in my life: I had taught countless courses on global revolutions, but I never thought that I would have the chance to participate in a global revolutionary movement! I am an introvert myself, and I have always viewed my calling as a teacher through the lens of temperament: I saw myself on a mission to reach out to and empower those who might otherwise be marginalized in our extrovert ideal schools, which are characterized by graded class participation, constant noise and activity, and the collaborative overload.
What is the rationale for creating a Quiet Schools Network?
Our Quiet Schools Mission is to partner with both public and independent schools to foster inclusive teaching and learning communities that leverage the strengths of introverts and extroverts. The Network is a coalition of schools dedicated to our mission for children, as stated in our Quiet Revolution manifesto: “Quiet kids can and must be raised to know their strengths.”
All too often, quiet kids are shamed into feeling less than their extroverted peers, who are more likely to enjoy group work, crowded cafeterias, endless socializing, classroom discussions, and reward- motivated activities. When they discover that they fall on the introverted side of the spectrum, introverted students all too often lose confidence in their ability to lead.
With this in mind, it is critical to teach students about successful quiet leaders, such as Rosa Parks and Bill Gates. What are these quiet superpowers? Firstly, introverts tend to think before they speak. They are likely to be contemplative, mild-mannered, and cautious decision-makers. As Adam Grant states, taking time to carefully weigh options and not rushing a decision can benefit all members of a team and lead to better, more creative outcomes. Secondly, introverts tend to be excellent problem-solvers and deep thinkers. They have incredible abilities of focus and concentration, coupled with a desire to master complicated tasks through hours of deliberate practice. According to Jim Collins, such unassuming, humble individuals become great leaders precisely because they possess authentic conviction for a particular mission; they are not “in it” for personal fame or glory. Finally, introverts tend to be really good listeners, which builds trust and enables leaders to actualize the potential of team members. Deep listening is a valuable leadership skill that can produce remarkable outcomes with proactive team members.
Coaching quiet leaders and disrupting the extrovert bias in leadership is just one element of our comprehensive Quiet curriculum, which also includes tools and strategies for creating more inclusive classroom environments for students of all temperaments, balancing solitude and collaboration in and out of the classroom, making time and space for Quiet in schools, and fostering cultures of creativity.
What are Quiet Ambassadors asked to do?
I work with our Quiet Schools Ambassadors to foster cultures of kindness in their schools. In fact, A new Arizona state study finds that parents should emphasize kindness over academic achievement for the overall well-being and long-term success of their children.
As we define it, a culture of kindness is one in which each and every member is able to interact with others with authenticity and empathy, invoking the courage to be “emotionally honest,” which “begins with the capacity to walk in another’s shoes.” Cultivating such a combination of self-awareness and perspective-taking begins with an understanding of the power of temperament and the ways in which personality styles shape how we communicate, manage energy, and make decisions. How can you, as an introvert, be empathic with an extrovert who craves social stimulation as a restorative activity, when you yearn for the solitary opposite—if you do not fundamentally understand self and other through the lens of temperament? Or, how can you, as an extrovert, be empathic with an introvert who needs time to weigh options before making a decision, when you tend to think on your feet—if you are ignorant of the vastly different style of those on the other side of the temperament spectrum?
Quiet Ambassador Mission Statement:
Quiet Ambassadors are experts in temperament diversity who will:
- Engage in a Personal Journey of Self-Discovery. Understand how neurobiology shapes temperament – how you communicate, manage energy, make decisions – so as to emerge as your best self.
- Communicate with Presence and Compassion. Interact with others in authentic, empathic and non-reactive ways based on a deep understanding of personality differences.
- Empower Educators and Students to be Leaders. Challenge common misperceptions about qualities of effective leaders and encourage everyone to harness their natural strengths.
- Foster Inclusive School Cultures. Create cultures of kindness by teaching others about the different strengths and needs of introverts and extroverts.
- Share Best Practices. Engage in conversations with present and future Ambassadors during and after yearlong training with Quiet Revolution
For an introverted child (or teacher), how can participating in this movement be helpful?
Introverted children and adults will gain in self-awareness that will lead to an enhanced ability to tap into their strengths, celebrate their gifts, and assume leadership positons in their school communities.
Yet this movement is not just for introverts alone. Our ultimate goal is to empower both introverts and extroverts alike to leverage their natural strengths, step outside of their comfort zones with authenticity, and work together to unleash the creative potential of everyone at the table.
In fact, introverts and extroverts should actively seek out symbiotic relationships, in which leadership and other tasks are divided according to people’s natural strengths and temperaments. Research shows that the most effective teams are comprised of a mix of introverts and extroverts. Understanding the social styles and communication styles of different personality types is the key to leveraging the productivity and creativity of diverse groups of students and educators.
In order to capitalize on our differences, we first need to understand them in profound ways. Without such understanding, we will lack the basis for building both a healthy sense of respect for others and a strategy for working together harmoniously. The goal is to build a culture of kindness that enables each and every individual to flourish.
Any particular stories or examples of schools, teachers, or students you would like to share?
Ambassadors are experimenting with a myriad of our resources: classroom activities, reflections, tools, videos, strategy guides. Here are several highlights:
- Many Ambassadors have worked with their faculty to craft more quiet-friendly comments. They have juxtaposed “what not to do/say” with more inclusive phrases.
- Several Ambassadors have helped students find Quiet in their schools. One in particular has created the following in her lower school: a “Cozy Corner” with cushions and picture books for early childhood; “Calming Caddies ” (cards with yoga poses, glitter jars) for primary grades; a ten-minute “Zen Zone,” during which third and fourth graders can stretch to calming music and write in gratitude journals.
- Another Ambassador has created her own I/E assessment tool for her lower school students: “Knowing students’ preferences for work and recess settings has helped us to design and structure the classroom environment so as to better meet the needs of each child.”
- Another has gained in awareness of the pressing need in a post 11/9 world to creates safe spaces in our classrooms where all voices can be listened to and heard: “The presidential election proved to be a perfect stage from which to observe a familiar classroom dilemma: How do I allow both ‘young Hillary’ and ‘young Donald’ to get equal airtime in discussions? As neutral referee, I need to be certain that the learning scenario I’ve set up is staged fairly. Does the setting allow both introverted and extroverted, male and female, students to respond from their individual comfort zones?”
As Educational Director at Quiet Revolution, Heidi Kasevich, PhD, runs the Quiet Schools Network, a nationwide program that focuses on guiding school communities to cultivate inclusive cultures where all temperaments can thrive. The creator of Quiet pedagogy, she serves as leadership coach for Quiet Ambassadors and speaker on quiet leadership and temperament diversity at schools around the country. Kasevich is also the author of the Guide to Giving, a highly acclaimed philanthropy curriculum, and founder of Closing the Gap, a sought-after leadership curriculum for aspiring women leaders. Her proficiency is grounded in 25 years of experience as an educator at Nightingale-Bamford, where she also served as history department chair, Dalton, Berkeley-Carroll, NYU and Cooper Union. Committed to expanding students’ perspectives, Kasevich has served as Director of Académie de Paris, an Oxbridge Academic Program. A gcLi Alumna Scholar, she received her BA from Haverford and her MA and PhD from New York University.
Read Heidi’s recent article on gender and temperament
Watch Susan Cain’s TED talk, The Power of Introverts (over 15 million views)