Today (in this post from the archive) let's think about those quiet, reflective learners and how our environment can help them.
One of the boys in my class comes into the room quietly. He moves from place to place, seeing what is in the room. He pauses for a few minutes, watching kids build a tower or work a puzzle. He stands near one wall, apart from everyone else, and quietly takes in what is happening throughout the room. I ask, "Would you like to play this game with us?" and he silently shakes his head no. When he does choose something to do, he often finds a quiet activity that he can do alone. He typically chooses a drawing or writing activity, so he can express what he is thinking. He works diligently and smiles when I comment on what he is doing. Rarely do I hear him speak, and when he does, his voice is not much beyond a whisper.
My friend is a reflective, introverted learner. These learners take in lots of information and think about what they see. They enjoy working alone, or maybe one-on-one with an adult. They usually do not enjoy group games or talking with others. They think about how to apply learning to themselves personally and look for ways to process and express their learning...usually through pictures or writing.
Use these ideas to support your reflective learner:
- Allow a child to watch rather than participate. Reflective learners may learn more through watching a game than doing it. Don't force a child to join in. This can be challenging for teachers; after all, if we see a child not joining in then he's not participating. But quiet learners are participating, just in a different way.
- Provide quiet activities that allow a child to work alone. Provide areas of the room that allow solitary play. Create spaces for more quiet play.
- Deliberately find time to spend one-on-one with a reflective learner. Work a puzzle together or talk to him while he draws. Ask questions or make comments but be content if he just smiles, nods, or just continues working instead of responding verbally.
- In group time, ask a question and allow time before requiring an answer. Say: "Don't tell me yet. Just think about what your answer is." This time allows a reflective learner to process the question and formulate an answer.
- In a group setting, ask a reflective learner if he would like to add something to the conversation, even if he has not raised his hand or indicated he wants a turn to speak. Often more introverted kids feel unsure about jumping into a conversation. But also accept his choice not to contribute.
- Play quiet music to create a more contemplative atmosphere.
- Ask questions or pose problems that allow deeper thinking.
Often these learners can help other children see things in a new way. When they speak, they may offer insights that are original and surprising. Thank God that He has made some of your learners as reflective and introspective. One day these learners may become researchers, philosophers, or inventors.
What ways can you encourage the quiet learners in your classroom?
This post originally appeared on Brick by Brick on May 28, 2009. It has been edited and updated.