Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Teaching Personality?

Is there one particular teaching personality? If you don’t have the personality, are you doomed to thirty miserable years in teaching? I think the answer to both those questions is no. There is no one particular personality that works – knowing yourself really well and being able to structure your classroom around that is what’s important.

I tend to have a playful, light-hearted, slightly odd personality – that is who I am and I make no apologies for that and I try to use that in the classroom. I almost see myself as being on stage, as performing, when I’m in the classroom. I use the force of my personality to engage my students and make them learn.

There is no one correct personality – I have seen stern teachers, college-professor style teacher, sarcastic teachers, and more. They succeed because their personality fits in with their teaching style. My goofy teaching style works for me because I adapt my teaching style to my personality.

Patience is a Must

The one characteristic you must have as a teacher of any age level is patience. If you do not have some measure of patience, you will likely go crazy.

For instance, you must have patience for stupid questions – and let me give you an example of what I mean by a stupid question. If my English class has a test on Friday and I have posted it on the board and on the class website for at least a week, and I have talked about it every day, without fail on that Friday, as I begin to hand out the test, I will have at least one student say “We have a test? You didn’t say we had a test!” You must have patience in order to not yell at or throttle said student.

If you do not have at least some patience, you will lose your temper constantly and your blood pressure will hit an all time high. Students are not adults; they don’t have the good judgment and common sense of most adults. This is an easy thing to forget, especially in the heat of the moment. But you have to keep it in mind.

One little side note…you should treat your students like you want to be treated, no matter how idiotic they get. Don’t yell at them, don’t denigrate them, and certainly don’t throttle them (no matter how much you want to). They will shut down and they will learn nothing from you. Have patience and dish discipline when needed.

Commitment to Teaching

Whatever your personality, whatever your level of patience, the most important factor is your commitment – to your subject, to your teaching, and to your students. If you are not interested in your subject matter, it shows. If you are not interested in really being a teacher, it shows. And as I’ve said before, if you don’t care about your students, it shows.

As long as you are committed to being a good teacher, you can work with your personality and develop your patience. Your students may still act like goofballs, but at least they will be your goofballs.


Chris Prince said...

Greetings, Lauren.
As a teacher, and a relatively new one, I really appreciate and empathize with this blog. I've been in the classroom for the past five years at Mt. Zion High School in Clayton County (Don't even ask about the Accreditation Debacle), with half a year at the Clayton Coutny Alternative School. Many of your experiences rang quite familiar to me, and your advice to others is solid and applicable, unlike some of the 'education' instruction I've found. Are there any other activities/units/aproaches that you have found success with that you would like to share? Thanks.

Leah Sonson said...

Hi Lauren,

I agree that there is not one correct personality type nor certain style for teachers.

Though you created this site as one for teachers, there is a teaching aspect to my job as well. As a Human Resources Director, I am responsible for training managers on a number of topics and consistently coaching them as needed daily.

It most certainly is challenging when you repeat yourself over and over - relating to your test example - especially when your "students" ARE adults.

Is there some "trick" you may have learned in the classroom that improves retention? That's something I could benefit from when coaching managers.