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Old 12-06-2012, 08:55 PM
frtrd frtrd is offline
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 92
"Wrong" personality for teaching? :(

Since I want to be a teacher after college, I met with a high school acquaintance (a new teacher herself, a few years older than me) to ask her some questions. At one point I asked about her best classroom management techniques, and she said "What helped me most was the fact that I never tried to be their friend. You should NEVER see students as friends. I see myself as more of a mentor -- I even feel quite maternal."

This made me really, really insecure -- I worry that the kids will NEVER respect me, because I don't look or act "maternal" in the slightest. To begin with, I'm 21 but look like I'm 16, and am fairly pe my personality is NOTHING like my friend's. She is really warm and kind but also quite serious, and I can definitely see why kids would see her as both firm and caring. On the other hand, I'm normally really spontaneous and casual. I like to make things fun. When I used to babysit kids, I normally saw the humor in small misbehaviors and was never too concerned about keeping perfect order.

Does all of this sound like a problem to you all if I'm hoping to become a high school teacher? I DEFINITELY see the importance of being "professional" (thus, I'd be willing nd swap my crazy clothes for office ones), but I am worried that teaching might restrain my personality in ways that other professions wouldn't, simply because as a teacher I would always have to be an authority figure. I had been excited about the creative and interpersonal aspects about teaching, but now I wonder whether high schoolers would rip me apart. Any thoughts?
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Old 12-06-2012, 09:05 PM
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HeartDrama HeartDrama is offline
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 1,540
High School English
Don't compare yourself to her. What works for her may not work for you. Students respond to authenticity, they can spot a phony a mile away. Be yourself. You don't have to be maternal, your hair and clothes may make the students more comfortable with you. Why don't you check with some high schools near you and see if they need AVID tutors. That's a great way for you to get started working with students and get more of a feel for your style and teaching personality.
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Old 12-06-2012, 09:08 PM
EMonkey EMonkey is offline
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 1,597
1st Grade Teacher
Well, they might "rip you apart"; but then again they might not. I have not taught high school so I am not an expert on high school students' behavior.

What I have noticed is sometimes the more authoritarian teachers may have a very hard time with students because the students might start to fight back or try and push the teacher's buttons. I have noticed very free flow teachers who work well with the children. I have also seen the opposite and everything in between. It has a lot to do with the children believing you respect and value them as well as being clear and consistent in your behavior expectations. It also has to do with your ability not to take things personally when someone is trying to annoy and frustrate you. If you give no boundaries you will have problems. There are many ways to build the boundaries with and for the children in a way which supports your need for control.
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Old 12-06-2012, 09:12 PM
waterfall waterfall is offline
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 4,797
Western USA
K-3 Sped Resource Teacher
I don't know that there is a "wrong" personality for teaching. Kids are all different just like we are which means they react differently to different personalities. I am a naturally very shy person. I am not the type to be in front of my class jumping with excitement about whatever the newest math concept is. I don't "put on a show" at all. I've seen teachers who really do that well and have felt inferior to them. I have often been branded as being "closed off" or "too shy" for teaching...until people see what I actually do in my class. I've worked in two different schools now (three if you count the one I student taught in) and in every place people just can't believe how calm and focused my students are. Kids that go crazy for other teachers tend to "calm down" in my class and focus on their work and anyone who comes in says I have a "calming effect" on them.

On the other hand, your friend is correct in that you shouldn't be "friends" with the kids. You can still show you care, joke around, etc. it's just establishing that line between adult and peer. You don't have to change your personality, you just have to make it work in the classroom. With my example with my more shy personality, I have to make an effort to talk to kids more 1:1 or in groups (I'll sit with some at lunch, or talk to them at recess) so that they know I really care about them too.
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Old 12-06-2012, 09:51 PM
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myKroom myKroom is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 835
K-4 At Risk
Don't compare yourself to anyone or put yourself into a "stereotype"!!! If we went by stereotypes there is no way on earth I would be teaching Kindergarten! I do not have a super maternal side (which most people associate with K), but I love Kindergarten!

Being a great teacher is about what you bring to the table, not about fitting a mold, stereotype, or another teacher. If you change yourself you will be doing your future students a disservice and you probably won't like what you do! Find a way to combine who you are with what you want to teach.
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:40 PM
JustMe JustMe is offline
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 8,007
I am twelve. Well, technically I'm thirty...but I'm pretty sure I'm twelve. I love playing with kids. Like legit playing. Coloring, building forts, hide and seek, you name it. I'm not doing it to entertain them; it's great fun! There have been moments when I compare myself to those teachers who are more like the ones I had growing up: professional, more serious, mother-like. But I know that we all offer something different to the students and that's important. I have high behavior expectations for my classes, care greatly about their education...and I actually enjoy the KIDS as well.

And it's your hair. Please wear it however you like!
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Old 12-06-2012, 11:16 PM
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Peregrin5 Peregrin5 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 4,284
8th Grade Science Teacher
I have to deal with being the youngest teacher in the school (and I think I'm the youngest new teacher in the district as well).

I too am very spontaneous and sometimes off-topic. I'm not going to lie, yes, this personality does have its challenges when working with kids. But I figure, every teacher I know at this school did NOT start off with a maternal, authority figure type aura.

It has to be built, and it can be practiced! Where I started off a year ago is completely different than the person I am now. Teaching brings you that type of authority aura, especially when you work at it. The job itself has mellowed me out a lot, and given me a huge professional confidence, and has made me feel a lot more comfortable in separating myself as an older and educated mentor rather than an overly paid baby-sitter.

I still look like a teenager (curses baby face!) but I have the respect of my students and of my peers some of whom are 30-40 years older than me. I'm still the new kid on the block, but they treat me as a capable adult which I am, and which you will be if you put your mind and soul into your job.

And as everyone said, you can still be yourself when you're teaching! You just eventually learn when it's appropriate to have off-the-wall encounters and being spontaneous, and when to batten down the hatches and get to work.
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Old 12-07-2012, 06:03 AM
a2z a2z is offline
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 3,605
Don't judge because she mentioned she felt "maternal". She also said that she made sure she was a mentor, not a friend. There is a difference there, and it has nothing to do with being maternal. Mentors do build relationships with their mentees, but not necessarily friendships. I think what she was saying is not trying too hard to make them your buddies by worrying if they will like everything you do or say.

Is there a wong personality for teaching. Absolutely, in the same way there are wrong personailities for police work, desk jobs, park rangers, etc.
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Old 12-07-2012, 07:00 AM
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lucybelle lucybelle is offline
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,781
You should always be true to yourself. If you try to replicate someone else's teaching style it could be disastrous.

I agree with not being friends with the kids though. Like I always tell them "what do I need a 14 year old friend for?"

But really, I'm very laid back and casual. I get off topic and make jokes. It works for me!
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Old 12-07-2012, 07:28 AM
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catnfiddle catnfiddle is offline
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 6,306
Central Ohio
Online English Teacher
Every teacher has an individual personality and style. The trick is to use those quirks and turn them into strengths to get the point apart. My mother's teaching style was extremely maternal. My father's made it clear he was also an athletic coach. Mine is more of the peculiar auntie who has a head full of information and funny stories. If you make it work for yourself, it will work for your students.
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