Considering a teaching career... concerned about my personality

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by morgothaod, Apr 29, 2012.

  1. morgothaod

    morgothaod Rookie

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    My grandma was a teacher and she is really welcoming, outgoing, smiley and great at talking. I on the other hand, am quiet, introverted, and a bit shy. I like tutoring (I got joy out of helping college classmates prepare for exams) but I worry that my personality isn't suited for engaging a large and younger audience. I think I would prefer teaching elementary school over the other grades because the kids are nicer (?). Do I need a personality like my grandma's to be successful in this field? Are any of you shy and introverted like me?Any advice or insight would be appreciated! :thanks:
     
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  3. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    You don't have to be an extrovert to be a good teacher. You DO have to talk to your students and learn how to engage them in the lesson through questions, activities, etc. That means you have to overcome any fear of speaking in front of a group. Don't think that you are the only one who might suffer from that; it is one of the most common fears. Even outgoing people can have it. There is a big difference between talking to 1 or 2 people at a time and talking in front of 20! So don't feel like extroverts have no problem with that. It might be a little easier for them to overcome, but you can bet they are feeling some of the same fears and insecurities as anyone else when they get in front of a class for the first time.

    The one area you shyness might cause a problem in is classroom management. In any class, with any age group, you have to show kids you ARE the authority in the classroom and they will have to respect that authority. That doesn't mean you have to be a dictator. Students can have a lot of input on what is and is not acceptable in the classroom. That gives them a feeling of ownership and often makes them more willing to following the class rules, but there will still be times when the rules are broken or the class is being disrupted and you WILL have to address and stop that immediately to keep the class from getting out of hand.

    There are many, many ways to go about that and to achieve the desired result. Which one works best for you WILL depend on your classroom personality and what works great for the teacher in the next room might not be the right method for you at all.

    So, in answer to your original question, I think a shy, introverted person CAN become a good and effective teacher. It will certainly help you empathize with your students that are also shy and introverted and might allow you to help them overcome that and come out of their shell, so to speak.

    Your best approach would be trying to volunteer or even substitute teach at some schools in your area. That would give you exposure to the classroom full of kids before making a full-time commitment to it. That would let you know if it IS something you want to pursue or not.
     
  4. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Most of the teachers I know best are introverts. They do fine; they just need alone time after the school day ends.
     
  5. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    I've seen great teachers that are shy and horrible teachers that are outgoing (because they turn the classroom more in to being about their "show" than the kids).

    If you love kids, if you love to help people learn, and if you're good at breaking down information and presenting it to someone in a way they can understand, you'll be fine. :)
     
  6. a_apple_z_zebra

    a_apple_z_zebra Rookie

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    Some of what I'd consider the best teachers I've ever known have been introverts. They are completely different around their students than they are around their colleagues.
     
  7. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    This is very true for me. In fact, right now I am sitting in my classroom, enjoying the peace and quiet of an empty building, as I prepare for the upcoming week.

    I am pretty shy around other adults, but I can be much more outgoing with a group of children. I agree with finding a way to volunteer with a group of children. Maybe you can volunteer at a school, or if you belong to a church look into any summer Bible school. Maybe you could do something with your library's summer program? That would give you some insight into how you would work with kids.
     
  8. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I'd consider myself an introvert. I had some professors in college who would comment on it negatively- as if I wasn't "excited enough" about teaching or something because I wasn't jumping up and down. I was told I "came out of my shell" by senior year and ended up getting really good reviews in my full time ST (even won an award for the top performing pre-service teacher in my program). What's funny is that my current school seems to really like that about me. We get four formal observations a year, so I'm up to 8 now (done by 4 different people per year)...and in every single one of them the evaluator has complimented the fact that I am so calm and respectful with the students and that my attitude rubs off on them. Kids who act crazy in other classes are often just fine in mine. I would say it's just a matter of finding the school that's the right fit for you- somewhere that would appreciate that type of personality. Especially if you're in a bigger school, I think one of the advantages of having many teachers per grade level with diverse personalities is that students can be placed with the best fit teacher. Some students might do better in my class while others might do better with the teacher who is an extrovert.

    On a side note, have you considered special education or speech pathology? You would still get to work with the kids but in a smaller setting. Speech pathology especially is actually a pretty in-demand career too. They're literally begging for SLP's in my district. If you're okay with adults but not good with large groups, this would be a good career for you. The reason I mention adults is that you often have to run meetings, lead teams, and work with many different adults in the building to support the students. However, you likely wouldn't be in a situation where you had an entire class by yourself.
     
  9. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Taking a slightly different approach from some of the other posts, what attracts you to teaching? Which things do you think you would dislike? I think you can overcome just about anything if you want to, but that's the key - understanding the job, and really wanting to do it. I might suggest volunteering at an after-school program or other setting where you'd have responsibility for planning activities and managing a group of kids. That would give you a sense of whether you like it or not.

    To be honest, there are a number of things not to like about teaching, and many things even teachers who love their job still don't like, such as low salaries, unfair evaluation procedures, too many responsibilities, etc. Even a lot of people who really love teaching find themselves questioning their careers from time to time, if not more.

    Also, you mentioned elementary because the kids are nicer - this is partially true, partially not, but - in my opinion - you really need to at least some enjoy difficult kids to be a good and happy teacher in a realistic school - at any grade level - because there are unfriendly, angry, sad, or otherwise "not nice" kids in most classes in most schools. Many schools have more than just a few.

    Another point - there's a difference between being an introvert and not liking to be in front of crowds and having to be "on" all day. While there may be many good introverted teachers, those teachers most likely enjoy their positions in front of the class. That position may drain them, but they probably still enjoy it. If you are not only introverted, but truly don't enjoy being in front of a group of people, that's a different situation.

    Again, there's nothing like experience - put yourself in a situation that is close to teaching as possible, and see for yourself. Be honest, and realize that a career change later in life is much harder than a decision to pick a different major in college.

    None of this is to discourage you, but the benefit of a relatively anonymous online forum is to be able to give and receive more direct feedback than is sometimes comfortable face to face :).
     
  10. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    My personality traits sound similar to yours. I know many teachers who are similar as well, so it is definitely not a problem.

    I would, however, recommend volunteering/subbing to figure out which grade level works for you. I frequently wish I had went into secondary math.
    Elementary teaching requires a lot more communication with parents. Early elementary can sometimes need a more outgoing, peppy personality.
     
  11. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    When I was in college I always got told that I was too quiet to be a teacher. I was also told during student teaching that I needed to be a lot more animated. I haven't had any problems since I started teaching in my own classroom. My students always have very high test scores and I don't get any complaints from parents. If anything, I get a lot of compliments on how calm I am and that I never yell. I don't think there's one set personality that a teacher has to have. Just be yourself!
     
  12. morgothaod

    morgothaod Rookie

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    I like to learn and I enjoy helping others understand things (I helped out my classmates in college and at work, I had to work with an associate who spoke very little english. I enjoyed being able to help her out with my limited spanish.) I'm good at dumbing down material and explaining it in simple steps. That's how I learn and I feel like the way I get things would benefit a lot of people. In college, I had to teach myself many subjects because the professors did a poor job of explaining them. Having the summer off also appeals to me (I only support myself so I can live on a small salary. Currently, I make under $10/hour and I'm getting by). Lastly, I would like to feel like I'm making a difference in the world.

    I think I'll dislike being an authoritative figure and having to discipline students. I like to get along with everyone and I hate to yell. I'm very much a Type B personality and instead of confronting people, I just let them think they won the argument because I don't want to put in the energy to deal with them (Getting into a shouting match or whatever). I also think I won't like having to deal with parents if they aren't easy going such as myself. I read on here that some of the parents are worse than the children! Also, I may not like having to come up with lesson plans. I fear not know what to present for a given day or running out of things to say 1/2 in the class period.

    Where can I find out about substitute openings? Besides working with children, I feel like Toastmasters may benefit me.

    To be honest, I can't say for certain that teaching is for me and I have absolutely no idea what my calling is in life. I didn't know what degree to choose in college and since I had a scholarship, I felt like I had to go and I ended up picking Marketing. I'm not a fan of it and all the marketing jobs out there require me to have experience. I guess I'm not like most 25 year olds out there because the only experience I have is working 2 retail jobs. I'm struggling to find any "good" jobs because of my employment history (working crap jobs that don't count for the experience that most of the good jobs want). I'm not sure where to go from here but I'm sick of working retail and I want to do something better with my life.

    Way too much info I know! :sorry:
     
  13. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    :yeahthat:

    This describes my personality very well, FarFromHome!!!
     
  14. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I also avoid confrontation at all costs. However, I have few discipline problems. They know my expectations, and the consequences are simple. It is not a problem. Parents, however, can be. There will always be a difficult problem. I just usually try to avoid making them upset (one child in my room this year gets her projects hung in the hall every time, no matter what. Her dad is a jerk and went to my P when I didn't hang hers up earlier in the year. So, to avoid him, I put it up.)

    Check school district's websites.
     
  15. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I am a bit of an introvert myself. I would say you can do it. I would suggest sticking to possibly K-4, high school, or college. The middle school grades can be a bit tougher on an introvert, but not impossible.

    You will find that teaching will lead you out of your comfort zone. You will probably need to be a bit extroverted at times, just like extroverts find that they sometimes will need to be a bit introverted with some of the parts that teaching demands.
     
  16. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I've met successful teachers with all sorts of personalities. I don't think that there's any one right personality that makes a teacher successful or unsuccessful.

    I feel like I do have to comment on the part that I quoted above. Classroom management, discipline, and lesson planning are basically the three biggest parts of our job a teachers. You can't hide from them. There are all sorts of classroom management and discipline styles, but all of them require energy and a plan. Most good classroom management plans involve neither yelling nor just hoping that everyone gets along. I just want to be clear about these things, because these are the areas where I see new teachers fail. If the things you're doing in the classroom are based on an idea that students will police themselves without your guidance, I think you'll find that you won't be successful. If you don't make plans and stick to them as much as you can, I think you'll find that you won't be successful.
     
  17. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Sounds like you've got a pretty honest perspective about your likes and dislikes, which I think is a good place to be. I think you know some of the areas you'd want to test out with volunteering somewhere or doing the sub thing. See how you like it and go from there. I know for sure I wouldn't just do teaching as a back up plan or because nothing else seemed to work, but it seems like your interest goes beyond that. If the sub thing proves to much, find a youth program somewhere and volunteer.
     
  18. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

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    I'm not an extrovert, but I play one at school.

    I spend nearly all of my non-teaching time by myself. Many of my colleagues do the same.

    It's not mandatory, though, that you even play an extrovert on the job. I used to have a colleague who was masterful at working with "difficult" classes but who always spoke quietly and slowly. The quieter she got, the quieter her students got. I was something to see. (I observed her as her supervisor.) Teaching is a knack to be found in all sorts of people and personalities, and you never know until you have a whack at it.
     
  19. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Isn't it great that all different types of personalities work in the classroom? After all, there are all different types of students there!
     
  20. sizzla_222

    sizzla_222 Companion

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    I am an introvert in the fact that I get my energy by being by myself.....but I do a lot of public speaking at big childrens events and have to trouble being in front of people.

    I don't think you need to be like your gma to be a good teacher.... but maybe you would like something like speak therapy even better if you really enjoy tutoring. The speech therapist at my school only does 1 student at a time, sometimes small groups of 3. I think i would also love this job, but don't want to spend all the money getting a masters :(
     
  21. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    Sometimes I feel like there are so many professors and textbooks telling student teachers who to be that we forget that we're actually supposed to be ourselves. Isn't that the way to become great teachers? If you're an introvert, work it! You'll have your own comfortable style in the classroom.
     
  22. mrk1

    mrk1 Rookie

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    Everyone here is making me feel more comfortable about choosing teaching as a career. I was somewhat thinking the same thing. I can be quite animated with my friends, but with new people I tend to reel it all back in and not be as animated. I was hoping this was not a negative trait. Everyone here is starting to make my transition to teaching more set in stone than it was previously. Now I just have to get everything set up to start my training to get certified next spring. I have one more year at my current job before we close down. After that, I will jump into my certification program and be ready to apply for jobs for the upcoming fall semester. If anything, I could be a sub that year and do some side jobs whenever possible. :)
     
  23. morgothaod

    morgothaod Rookie

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    My library has a "reading buddies" thing going on where children practice reading with adults. I think I'll volunteer for it so I can see what it's like working with a child.
     
  24. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    Sounds like a great idea!
     
  25. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I am also a shy and quiet person. For some reason, when I teach, I'm not like that at all. I believe that this holds true for a lot of people. I was a peer mentor in high school, and even then, I was very comfortable speaking to a group of kids.

    Good luck with the volunteering. It sounds like a good idea.
     
  26. teacherwithlove

    teacherwithlove Comrade

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    :D This is me as well! I am more of an introvert at heart but I've learned to step out of my shell for my job. I used to be so scared of just talking in front of 2-3 people... and now I feel so comfortable in my teaching career that I just finished co-leading a school pep rally and actually didn't feel nervous!
     

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