Inspiring Introverted Sensors in Your Classroom

Tips, techniques, and strategies to spark the introverted-sensing learners in your classroom.

By Jen Lilienstein

young boy hiding

One of the great frustrations of teaching…is that you are always robbing Peter to pay Paul. You design something to reach one group of students, knowing that in so doing you are going to turn off another group (Myers 1995).

That being said, if certain pupils are struggling or seem less engaged, try a lesson plan or two that would appeal to their learning personality type and see if you can pique their interest.

Instruction Content

Introverted-sensing kids are the ones who genuinely love the practice-makes-perfect rhythm of the early elementary years. They are the first to key into concrete details and love tasks that allow them to work their way up Bloom’s pyramid, starting with knowledge practice.

Be sure to use “examples and feedback for assignments [and lessons] that go beyond factual knowledge (Kise 2007).”

Introverted Sensors (ISJs) understand current experiences through the lens of past experience. Many describe their life experiences like “a movie or video in my head that replays all the details over and over (Haas & Hunziker 2006).” For this reason, creating parallels between new concepts and previously learned concepts can be tremendously beneficial for these scholars. “If you talk to [them] about something [they] have not personally experienced, [they] may just blank out…because [they] don’t have a reference (Haas & Hunziker 2006).”

ISJs will thrive in your classroom if you can give them step-by-step, detailed instructions for best practices on tasks—even if it means providing it during quiet time or before/after school hours. “It helps if the learning is well organized, where nothing is missing or out of sequence (Berens 1999).”

Process and Techniques

Introverted Sensors do not like change, so they will feel most comfortable in classrooms with routine, specific rules, and dependable structure. They will feel most comfortable if you can keep them in the same desk throughout the year, even if you switch up learning partners or groups.

Like all introverts, ISJs really want to have time to think before they respond. Laminated cards with red construction paper on one side and green construction paper on the other (Murphy 2008), can give them a safe, non-obvious way to indicate to you when they are ready to contribute to a class discussion. This also gives you, as the teacher, a way to pull the Introverted Sensor aside if his card never flips to green and talk through why contributing is important to you and the class, as well as to give him some strategies to try.

In project groups, encourage team roles for your introverted sensing pupils in the realms of gathering research and recording data or checking for clarity in the team’s final work product.

“Although [Introverted Sensors] like hands-on learning, they also like to have time to think about new information before being expected to discuss or act on it (Dunning 2008).” As such, either a show-and-tell of the applied activity prior to having your class replicate it or a flipped video as homework the night before will be appreciated by these learners.

Work Product

The typical Introverted Sensor applies very high standards to the work she turns in. You can expect her to be conscientious, neat, and organized—with legible handwriting. She will most likely require much more specific directions on creative writing or broader assignments. If you have a student-friendly rubric for the assignment, this can help minimize the amount of coaching she needs (Kise 2007).

If an introverted-sensing child has received low marks on a prior exam in the same subject—particularly if this happens a couple of times in a row—he will start to have high test anxiety. In order to calm these fears, talk to him about what strategies he tried last time and how you can modify the techniques for improved performance this time. If his test anxiety is extremely high, get his parents involved and make sure that he tries a different kind of breakfast, different bedtime, and wears different clothes to put a gap between the lead-up he experienced before his last, unsuccessful test and this one.

Partnering draft editing with an Intuitive child (either Extraverted Intuitive or Introverted Intuitive) can help both members of the pair better see the elements they are most likely to miss—for sensors, this means seeing the synthesis or forest level view of the facts, while for intuitives, this means remembering the comprehension-based details or leaves on the trees.

Types of Lessons Introverted Sensors Would Enjoy

“Tri”ing Triangles

Learners focus on the triangle, which is the strongest of all polygons. They see the role that triangles play in the design of buildings, and learn about triangle characteristics, and prove the Pythagorean theorem. Some excellent blackline masters are included in this fine plan.

Garden’s A-Growin’

An explicit, easy-to-follow plan for building and observing an ecosystem. Also included are ideas for collecting data, taking pictures, and journaling about the ecosystem. In culmination, learners create a multimedia presentation about ecosystems.

Consumer Investigations

Learners use data analysis to seek answers to the types of questions often posed by consumer agencies and people who work in sales and marketing. Your Introverted Sensors, in particular, will appreciate the detailed, step-by-step approach to the analysis.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Pupils examine graphs to find the most appropriate graph for various kinds of data. They create bar, line, and circle graphs. Additionally, they can create these graphs electronically and manually interpreting the data.

Cultivate Poetry

Develop the ability to identify different types of poetry with your upper graders. Young writers will create a cinquain, a haiku, and phrase poetry. They will also complete worksheets on each type of poem and a matching types and poems worksheet.


Berens, Linda. 1999. “Dynamics of Personality Type.”

Haas, Leona, and Hunziker, Mark. 2006. “Building Blocks of Personality Type.”

Kise, Jane. 2007. “Differentiation Through Personality Types.”

Murphy, Elizabeth. 2008. “The Chemistry of Personality.”

Myers, Isabel Briggs. 1995. “Gifts Differing.”