The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator has been around since the 1930s. It was developed by renowned psychologists Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers and continues to be used today to identify 16 personality types.
The process revolves around the idea that we all have specific preferences in the way we experience life, and that these preferences end up defining our personality. The MBTI usually takes the form of a ‘personality quiz’, but the science behind it is surprisingly robust and often gives frighteningly accurate results.
If you know your MBTI type then carry on to the next step; if you don’t, try this test to find your type and then read below for your teacher personality!
INTJ – The Renegade
INTJs are exceptionally rare and very difficult to manage – this is because they are so brilliant. They usually have exceptional subject knowledge and always have an answer for the wisecracking pupil who thinks they know best. They tend to have exceptional lesson plans and long term road maps to outstanding attainment.
The difficulties with INTJs is they tend to take their perfectionism and logical planning to the extreme – often departing from established ‘guidelines’ to get the job done. This can have an ostracising effect in the staffroom and can lead to others seeing them as elitist or arrogant. This could not be further from the truth! INTJs generally take other teachers and pupils input very seriously, but like everything else in their lives – it gets immediately filtered through an academic filter.
Highly competent in the classroom and a natural fit for an SLT position, if an INTJ can remember to concentrate on staying in touch with those less rational, the possibilities are endless!
INFP – The Purist
Usually an English or History Teacher, INFPs are the teachers that people often credit with changing their lives. Passionate about education, evangelical about their subject, INFPs have a positive and optimistic outlook on the world that can inspire both teachers and pupils to greatness.
The danger for the INFP is that the bright and rosy outlook starts to fade and they burn out. If stress and negativity builds up, INFPs might withdraw into ‘hermit mode’ and can lose touch with their passion.
INFPs often provide the motivation and inspiration for the rest of us and are a shining example of the joy teaching can bring to many people’s lives.
ESTJ – The Traditionalist
Natural leaders and moral rocks, ESTJs fill an exceptionally important role in schools as the guardians of the traditional values of teaching. They tend to believe that children should respect their teachers from day one and that parents should trust the school to do what’s best.
ESTJs also tend to be highly respected community voices and organisers and so it’s not surprising so many hold positions on school leadership bodies as well as charity commissions and expeditions. Strong characters, ESTJs will often be first to wade into difficult challenges – they must be careful, therefore, not to overburden themselves and get themselves into lose-lose situations. ESTJs will always need to rely on the support of more flexible and new-age teachers.
ESFP – The Performer
Stood up at the front of the class, all eyes on them, ESFPs teach for the sheer joy of being in the spotlight. This gives them the confidence and infectious enthusiasm that often leads them to being pupils’ favourite teacher. In their class you’ll find beautifully elaborate display boards bursting with colour and innovation, however less care has often gone into the lesson plan!
ESFPs make fantastic EYFS and Art teachers thanks to their natural talent with visual learning, yet their approachability is often suited to pastoral roles. Sometimes the ‘live-in-the-moment’ attitude can obscure from serious duties and more boring yet essential tasks are left unfinished.
As long as they remember to do the core things that enable them to do the fun, lively things then the ESFP is a key addition to any staff team.
ENTP – The Thinker
The most common words said by an ENTP tend to be “but why?” That’s why they make exceptional philosophy, science, and history teachers although they can bring their questioning approach to all subjects. ENTPs are often ‘idea people’ and can offer a superb insight into the running of a school, providing options other people simply wouldn’t have thought of!
The downside to ENTPs however is their apathy about seeing through the ideas that they arrive at. If you have an ENTP on your team you may be used to 27 different half-finished projects on the go; if you are an ENTP, you need to start managing these outstanding tasks. Remember to limit yourself to the ideas you can actually see through!
ENTPs are a huge asset to any team as they can provide the creativity to jumpstart real school improvement – as long as they can rely on their team to keep them focused.
ENFJ – The Supporter
ENFJs are another rare type of teacher – a natural leader with genuinely good intentions and the energy to work hard for school improvement and attainment. Often found in SENCO roles, ENFJs tend to be patient and tolerant teachers who can win over challenging or naughty pupils with charisma and flair. ENFJs can easily find themselves in a senior position without really knowing how they got there.
This unfortunately, opens ENFJs up to being used by lazier, less positive staff. Remember to say ‘no’ once in a while and try not to take things too personally. The big danger for all ENFJs is that they become too idealistic, living in the world they want rather than the one they have.
If they can balance their noble intentions with the realistic challenges of modern schools, they can provide the blueprint for new teachers to follow in order to get the absolute most out of teaching.
ISFJ – The Teacher
ISFJs are the archetypal teacher and represent the ideal person to be in front of a class. They are both imaginative and observant, authoritative and patient, and loyal and hardworking. ISFJs are meticulous, perfectionistic, and enthusiastic: they are the ones staying up until 11pm marking homework, setting up niche clubs for the two pupils who would love it, and devising their own resources and sharing them with the rest of the staff team.
ISFJs are the hardest workers of all they teacher types – not because they are after reward (though recognition will make an ISFJ grin from ear to ear) – but because they don’t know any other way. This natural sense of duty, however, can cause them to take on too much work and burn out.
This is why so many ISFJs leave teaching after only two or three years and in order to have a long career, they need to work hard on ‘tough guy’ persona that will protect them from being taken for granted by pupils and teachers alike.
ISTP – The Maker
You won’t find an ISTP happier than when they’re examining something, taking it apart and putting it back together, and understanding its purpose and function. ISTP are natural mechanics which makes them perfect candidates for Design Technology and Science teacher jobs. Their technical eye is unchallenged at truly understanding the individual components of an object in front of them which makes them great at prioritising work and inspiring others to find passion in their subject.
An ISTP’s raw ability however, can be frustrating for those who work hard for the same result, especially as an ISTP’s idea of a ‘deadline’ is a loose and ethereal concept that has something to do with time, they think. ISTPs tend to work at their own pace which, luckily, is often faster than most others.
An ISTP’s natural mechanical ability makes them strong candidates for leadership roles as they often understanding macro-systems and school processes better than most – this may not be the best place for them though. Because an ISTP works to the beat of their own drum, they can be considered insensitive, stubborn, and even apathetic by those who don’t understand that just because the ISTP is not showing care and attention, they are committed to the cause.
INTP - The Enigma
Often quiet and withdrawn, rarely at ‘important’ staff meetings, and brutal at parents’ evenings. INTPs can easily get a bad rep. However, behind the smoke is a caring, honest, and brilliant mind which is actually essential for a complete school.
INTPs often find themselves in Maths and Science where their analytical and systematic processes make the most sense. They tend to get excited about new, better ways of doing old things and so will be the first to get on board with a new school-wide initiative…if they think it works.
INTPs do not crave social interaction or acceptance and would rather go home at the end of the day knowing that the students have aced the exam than that they are popular in the classroom and the staffroom. You may see an INTP working furiously on a research side-project at lunch and after hours – and “what are they doing?” is a common question that INTPs overhear. Don’t worry though…they love it.
ISTJ – The Conventionalist
Schools, like any business, need people who will challenge ideas and break boundaries. However, if everyone was like this, they would fail – immediately. ISTJs provide the necessary balance to the teaching mavericks and arguably play the most important role of all in the school. Often fiercely honest and dutiful, ISTJs offer children the best possible role model – someone who respects authority and always tries their best.
ISTJs tend to remain calm under pressure and make superb middle leaders thanks to their quick learning and flexibility. If there is one thing holding them back, it is their commitment to the rules of the schools. They often find themselves conflicted between wanting to do what’s right and wanting to do what’s best. This causes tremendous self-guilt which, if left unchecked, can have a negative effect on their teaching.
ISTJs need to remember that it is okay to question the system, and that no matter the credit the zany, eccentric history teacher gets for being like the “old-school professor”, you are much more integral to these children’s futures than they are.
ISFP – The Artist
Although many ISFPs will be Art, DT, or Food Tech teachers, many will be very happy in primary teacher positions, especially in EYFS. An ISFP is a godsend for a Headteacher looking to fill a new teacher job. They are independent yet follow the rules, they love teaching for all the right reasons, and they connect with people without being outspoken.
ISFPs see the world around them in ways no other teacher type can, and their unbridled imagination often manifests in the art they practice whether traditional or not. An ISFP would be just as happy discussing ideas with a brain surgeon as with a Year 1 pupil, as long as the ideas were fun and interesting.
ISFPs can become stressed easily and are unpredictable at times and their uncompromising independence means they will never really like direct management. They also tend to shun management opportunities as they feel this may limit their creativity and freedom of thought. If they find their balance, however, ISFPs can be the rock around which entire departments or even schools are built even if they don’t know it!
ENTJ – The Leader
Most ENTJs, if they are not already, will be Headteachers or at the very least on the SLT. Energetic and efficient, ENTJs are natural leaders and use their charisma, self-confidence, and strong will to galvanise those around them to their cause and to lead them onwards. ENTJs tend to be strategic thinkers and so it usually isn’t long after they qualify that they are identified as future Headteachers.
Being a leader can be a lonely role which ENTJs understand well. They often realise that they may have upset or trampled over someone only after the passion of leadership and direction has calmed down. This is the sacrifice that the ENTJ takes on and is one that those around them may not understand for their entire duration of their career.
ENTJs may seem stubborn, arrogant, and cold but deep down they are not, they are just doing what they need to do to drag the leviathan of a school administration towards positive improvement. If they can remember to put the charge on hold every now and again they will find the support and gratitude from those around them increases enormously.
ENFP – The Inspirer
Everyone had that teacher that bounded round the classroom shouting like a maniac about the subject, imploring pupils to get involved. Congratulations, you are that maniac! ENFPs are the most passionate and energetic teachers, often getting excited about parts of the subject that others skip over apathetically.
The best thing about ENFPs is that they have the communication and people skills to convey their excitement in a coherent way – though it may not always seem like that at the time! ENFPs never have a bad word to say about someone and everyone tends to behave in their classes such is their popularity and respect.
Their raw energy sometimes makes their line of argument erratic which can be a problem in STEM subjects and during exam time. They can also lose focus if there is no clear goal in sight. Often however, these factors are swamped by the passion for the subject that ENFPs project and pupils are far more motivated to learn themselves.
ESFJ – The Stalwart
The best teacher is not the one who achieves outrageous attainment in exams, nor is it the one who redefines the homework system or saves the schools thousands of pounds with efficient spending. The best teacher is actually the ESFJ: the teacher who shows up to work on time every day, gives 100% for every lesson with a smile on their face, is loyal to the pupils, sensitive to the parents, and committed to the SLT.
ESFJs tend to get overlooked because their brilliance is not a focused beam, but rather a consistent glow. They can also suffer from a lack of self-confidence and an altruism that leads to being taken advantage of. This can deny them the credit they truly deserve.
This however, burdens those close to ESFJs rather than ESFJs themselves, who simply shrug and get back on with the jobs with unwavering reliability, good humour, and strong ability.
ESTP – The Doer
An old tale tells of asking both an Ancient Greek and a Roman how many teeth a horse has. Whilst the Greek is doing the calculations in their head, the Roman will find a horse and count them. The ESTP is the Roman, the person who gets stuff done.
Perfect for all roles and subjects, ESTPs use their bold and rational characters to make the changes suggested by the SLT. Nothing frustrates an ESTP more than meeting after meeting about what to do about a situation; they just want to get going. This is essential to ensuring the school moves forward and doesn’t remain stagnant. An ESTP’s incredible originality and perceptive abilities make them prime candidates for leading change in schools as well as superb middle leaders.
However, their quick action can sometimes come off as impatience and their unstructured work method may not be understood by all. If they are on the senior leadership team, they need to work hard to play the ‘game’ of politics and patience. Watch an Ofsted observer and an ESTP have a conversation about school improvement behind thick safety glass!