In addition to her work with William Smith students, Associate Dean of William Smith Lisa Kaenzig has focused one of her scholarly pursuits on understanding introverted learners – those who may be quieter in the classroom or prefer to work on their own.
A frequent invited speaker on issues relating to gifted and introverted learners, Kaenzig’s research particularly centers on the inclusion of introverted learners in modern classrooms that often may be oriented for extroverted students.
“We need to celebrate introverted learners,” says Kaenzig, who has more than 20 years of administrative and academic experience.
Kaenzig is co-author of the article, “Introversion: The often forgotten factor affecting the gifted,” which is frequently cited as one of the earliest published articles on this now popular topic of introverted learners. Her article is referenced in the best-selling book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain.
Kaenzig earned a B.A. in political science from Rutgers University, her M.A. in human resource development from George Washington University, and a Ph.D. in educational policy, planning and leadership (with a concentration in gifted education) from the College of William and Mary.
In light of her work, Kaenzig recently presented her research at the Association of Teachers of Exceptional Children (ATEC) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, giving two presentations: “Strategies for Teaching Introverts: Creating Environments Where Introverts (and All Students) Thrive” and “Teaching the Gifted Introverted Learner.”
A division of the Nova Scotia Teacher’s Union, ATEC is an association of teachers for students enrolled in special education or students who are academically gifted. The conference, which is devoted to helping teachers to develop academic environments that are more nurturing for their students, consisted of a diverse body of professionals with backgrounds in education.
Each of Kaenzig’s presentations had an audience of more than 100 educators, many whom themselves identified as introverted learners. At the conference, audience members were also given the opportunity to reflect and participate in the presentation that focused on creating classroom techniques designed for engaging all students.
“Many teachers today are extroverts, but 75 percent of gifted people identify as introverts,” Kaenzig explains. “There’s a real disconnect there.” Kaenzig stresses that teachers should implement alternative methods of instruction that promote the learning of all students.
“We need to make sure we hear our introverted learners,” Kaenzig says. “If we are not careful, we are really going to lose out on the best thinkers of this generation.”
Kaenzig has served as a dean at HWS since 2003 and currently serves on the Steering Committee for the HWS Middle States Accreditation and on the President’s Commission for Inclusive Excellence. She also founded and coordinates the HWS First Generation Initiative and has worked with the Centennial Center for Leadership on several initiatives.