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Find Your Teacher Personality

And use it to create a learning environment for student success.

Found in: Advice & Support

Don’t smile until Christmas. Never ignore rule breakers. We’ve all heard the classroom management advice. But, what really works?

Toss out the advice that doesn’t allow you to adapt as needed. Every teacher has to find their “teacher personality” – that is, who you are in the classroom and what level of chaos (because, let’s face it, learning involves chaos) you are able to tolerate. From there, you can work to determine the routines and rules that will work best for you and your students.

Think about the teachers that influenced you and you’ll realize that each had something unique about them. Maybe they were really into a particular sports team or were a total geek. Whatever it was, this made it easier for students to connect with them. Do this for your students. Go a little over the top with something you like, or a personality trait, and connect it to your classroom. Make it connect to the amount of commotion you are comfortable with in the room as well, then work within this framework to design your classroom and rules.

For example, if you like Star Wars you can play this up with room décor and clothing. Talk about it with your students. Use Darth Vader as the enforcer. Make the students Jedi. If you want orderly rows, use Storm Trooper formations. Embrace your love and share it; the students will love it!

Once you have your teacher personality, use it to organize your room in a way that compliments you. Do you want desks in rows, pairs, or groups? Create the physical space to work with your teaching style. Over the years I have tried many different formations, and I have found that pairs of desks, in rows, work best for me. It’s easy for students to work in pairs, but easy to separate when needed, and can also be made into groups of four if that is best for the lesson. Play with it to find the setup that works for you.

When thinking of physical space, don’t stop with desks. I have a space where students turn in work. This space is near my classroom door so my students can easily turn work in on their way in or out. Papers with no name have their own space, away from the door, where students can check for missing assignments they are certain they completed. I have another space where students can pick up absent work.

This physical space helps to create routines for students, which help get them on task immediately. Again, these will vary based on your personality, but I like to start with a bell ringer or goal that students need to write down immediately upon entering the classroom. This gets them on task and focused while I can take care of attendance and other needs. Another teacher I know greets the class every day with “Good morning class.” To which they respond, “Good Morning, how are you today?” He responds and class begins. I feel cheesy doing this, but it works for him.

Overall, the rules and routines you set need to be consistently enforced all year. Don’t start with 30 rules. Pick 3 that you must have and stick to them. It’s easier for you, easier for students, and it will work.


NEA's Back-to-School Guide
Educator-tested tips, advice, and resources for a successful start to the school year.