Personality Profiling: Do You Have the MO of a ‘Good’ Teacher?
Oct 18, 2011 Career Development 1945 Views
For decades, personality psychologists, also known as psychometricians, have been on a search for the ‘good teacher.’ Each year, more and more studies appear claiming to identify the personality traits of the ‘ideal’ teaching professional. Now, in a global first, England plans to weed out ‘bad teachers’ by using psychometric tests on all candidates applying for teacher training. The psychometric tests, to begin in 2012, will test for traits such as aptitude, empathy and resilience.
The tables have turned. Psychometrics, the field of educational testing, is regularly used to rank student aptitude. Increasingly, it is being used to assess candidates for teaching jobs. Whether or not you are required to take a formal test, it is important to emphasize the personality traits of a good teacher throughout your employment search – in resumes, cover letters and interviews.
School administrators are scanning potential applicants more closely for the qualities of the ‘good teacher.’ As the number of applicants per teaching position rises, it is a useful screening tool. Well-prepared job candidates assess how they convey the sought-after personality traits in all aspects of their employment search. With 20 years of experience in the classroom, it seems inconceivable to you that you would not have the personality profile of a teacher but what if you do not? When we are nervous in job interviews, our warm, caring and empathetic nature may not surface over the jitters. All the more reason to prepare and plan on how to present the real you.
Following is an overview of key personality attributes sought in teachers today.
Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment
Teachers are most often described as ENFJs – Extroverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judgmental – under the Myers-Briggs typology, one of the most popular personality profiling tools. It is important to remember that an individual personality is made up of a complex melange of personality traits. Generally, most teachers identify with the following personality attributes:
Extroversion – Open, action-oriented, people-oriented, social
Intuition – Guided by inner voice/personal insight
Feeling - Empathetic, emotional, values-oriented
Judging – Organized, pragmatic
The Big Five Personality Traits
Of these qualitities, openness, extroversion, conscientiousness and agreeableness are desired in a teacher. Neuroticism is not.
Even more personality
Recent studies have added emotional intelligence, resiliency, respect, understanding, and mutual interaction.* In addition to personality traits, most psychologists agree that a number of factors influence the performance of a teacher, including cognitive ability, hardiness (the ability to tough it out), life satisfaction, and optimism.
Communicating qualities in your job search is easy. Start by writing a list of the main personality traits you possess; then come up with synonyms for each of these traits. Use these in your resume and cover letter.
Conveying personality traits in the interview is the real challenge for most. Of course, the best way to communicate who you are is to be yourself. Write down your responses to expected interview questions. Then, consider ways in which you can emphasize your qualities. For example, consider adding an anecdote or example to show how you practice empathy and understanding with chronically late students or homework avoiders to help them develop positive and healthy habits.
As the validity and importance of these psychometrics tools increase in educational hiring, remember to give personality traits as much attention as education, qualifications and experience in your employment search. The good news is that psychometricians agree that all teachers can develop ‘good’ personality traits through the process of teaching.
* Sánchez, M.M., Pecino, R.M., Rodríguez, Y.T., Melero, P.T. Student perspectives on the university. 39 (4), 491-496(6).