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9 Tips for Teaching with a Type B Personality

Savannah Angel  |  August 06, 2021
I have a Type B personality. I’m very “go with the flow,” I don’t have to have a rigid plan, and everything doesn’t have to be just so. But as a teacher, I’ve gained Type A tendencies that keep me afloat. The following tips are things that have helped me as a Type B personality teacher.
  1. Differentiate what can be “go with the flow” and what can’t.
Some things need to have order, while other things have more wiggle room for improv. People with Type B personalities might not always come across as organized. But in reality, it’s organized chaos. It may be a hot mess express, but I know where it’s headed.

I teach middle school science, which requires structure. As a Type B person, I focus on frontloading. I let my students know what’s happening before we start the day so they know what to expect. They know the plan; they have an agenda. Some kids thrive on having beautiful planners with 18 different markers, stickers, and scented highlighters. Other kids have no idea what class they’re in. It’s just about getting them on the same page, so everyone knows what’s going on.
  1. Find the advantages.
I teach my kids from my mistakes and let them know that they don’t need to stay up late to finish an assignment that’s due the next day. They don’t have to do that to themselves. I teach them how to plan ahead and do bits and pieces, so they don’t end up with an entire project to do the night before it’s due. I’ve been there – I know what that’s like. I want them to know that they don’t have to be perfect, but they can definitely use strategies to set themselves up for success.
  1. Get to know yourself and be yourself.
I used to take papers that I wanted to grade on a field trip to my house and they never saw the inside of my house. It was the “I’ll get it done at home” mentality. Over time, I’ve found that if I don’t get it done at school, it’s probably not going to get done. I have to commit myself to get everything done at school so when I get home, I have peace of mind. If I don’t do it then, it sticks in the back of my mind. It took me a couple of years before I realized I was in denial before I found what works best for me.

You have to find strategies that work for you. You can’t do a personality flip, because if you’re not teaching as yourself, that’s no fun.
  1. Learn your boundaries.
Teaching is one of those jobs where you wake up thinking about your kids and you go to bed thinking about your kids. You think about how Jimmy left his jacket at school and Susie needs to retake her test. It’s not a 9-5 where you can leave work at work. Having that little bit of separation helps me leave it at school and have work-life balance.
  1. Make your tendencies work for you.
Being in the teaching world has helped me become more organized, but I’ve also been able to strategize how my personality can work in this profession. I can’t just sit and work. I have about the same attention span as my students (which is none). So having a job where I can get up and move around is great. I can sense when my kids need to get up and move around and do some Jazzercizing, so that’s what we do. I don’t know what people do in cubicles, but I’m guessing you can’t do that. Teaching is one of those jobs where I can interact with people every day, I can impact people every day, I can be creative, and I can be goofy and it’s part of my job, and I love that.
  1. Learn time management.
Time management is essential and something I had to work on. If I didn’t have a plan looking ahead, especially with curriculum, I would get behind. You can’t improv the whole way and go at your own pace. Pulling in the data portion of learning is helpful. Doing quick check-ins are great, especially using exit tickets to make sure concepts don’t slip through the cracks.

I have set days for when I’m going to stay at work to grade papers and other days where I can just go home and relax. I do better with that kind of structure, so I try to bring this to my classroom. If I don’t plan or at least have an outline, there’s just more and more stress. It’s trial and error for everyone, so you have to find what works for you. Some people can grade papers at home and drink their tea, wear their slippers, watch “The Office,” and get it all done without a problem. But that’s not how I function. My brain can’t work like that.
  1. Learn organization.
I can have piles of stuff at home and I know exactly where everything is. But with kids, it has to be organized. I tell them at the beginning of the year where everything is, and I have to make sure everything stays that way. I like making sure that they know what their expectations are, and they have their rubric, their material list, who they’re working with, and everything else they need to succeed before jumping into a new activity. Being organized in your classroom also makes it a more suitable environment for students with different personality types. 
  1. Give your students what they need.
Kids need consistency, and it’s helpful to how we get from point A to point B. If there isn’t some kind of structure, that’s where you get the chaos – you get a million questions. Sometimes you still have 10 kids at your desk for a Q&A session about the thing you just explained, and that makes me rethink how I presented the information so I can deliver it more effectively the next time.

I bring my weird, goofy, hot mess of a self into the classroom and kids connect to that because they’re a hot mess. We both don’t have great attention spans, and that’s what works. I know what it’s like for them, and I know how to connect with that. I have directions on the board, on a handout, or on a neon yellow laminated sheet labeled with a neon sticker. I make it so you can’t miss it. That’s what they need. Sometimes I make them tell the person beside them what I just said. It’s repetitive, yes, but it’s also necessary. We don’t want those Type B friends floating off in space.

I also use guided notes so students can keep up with filling in the blanks instead of trying to write down every word I say. This allows them to pay more attention to me explaining the new concepts instead of their panicked scribbles or wasting time on writing. It helps the kids who want all the notes and the little diagrams and everything, but it also works for the kids who just want to fill in the blanks. I have all the notes online for kids who weren’t in class or lost their notes in the backpack abyss. Everything is on my class website – rubrics, notes, slides, all of it. It supports all types of learners and allows parents to support their scholars at home by holding them accountable.
  1. Learn from other teachers.
Different strategies work for different teachers. I still learn as a teacher every day. You can always try new things to see if they will work better for you. You learn more about yourself as a teacher, but you’re surrounded by people who have been doing this for a long time. You can learn from them. Teachers are a very helpful bunch, and they want to help each other and keep learning and trying new things. I don’t think every career is as team-oriented as teaching.

The advice I’d give myself as a new teacher is to reach out to the veterans or teachers who have been teaching for a few years. Just use trial and error to find out what personality you are and what works for you. You need to be ready for all types of kids, so it’s helpful to me to be around teachers who are super Type A. They think about a lot of things I don’t think about, and they inspire me to do things to support my kids that I wouldn’t have thought of on my own. Collaborating with other teachers is the best way to become a great teacher yourself.

It is important to surround yourself with people you aspire to be like and that inspire you. You don’t have to be the perfect Pinterest teacher, but you can be the teacher that your kids need.

Teacher greeting at the door of her classroom.

Teacher holding a computer.

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