Do IT Geeks and Introvert Types Make Good Teachers?

I did my CELTA English teacher training at International House in Barcelona. One of our more memorable input sessions was taken by a teacher who ran the IT department there.

One of his activities was to get all us trainee teachers to line up into the order of how technically inclined we were. We all had a pretty good idea of that, based on which of us had to fix the OHP or class CD player if the teaching practice equipment went horribly wrong.

Well no guesses where I came on the list. After all I’d spent the previous 17 years working as a software developer. In fact my job before I quit it to do the CELTA involved writing code to control how much tea one of the world’s biggest tea companies bought.

Techy stuff indeed.

So it was fairly obvious that I was way more geeky than my teacher trainee peers.

Our guest tutor ended the session by saying that the least technical trainees generally went on to make the better teachers.

Hmm. Such a bold statement and not exactly music to my ears. Especially as I’d just given up a lucrative career in IT to focus on a career as a teacher!

Actually that got me thinking. I do a lot of thinking. Maybe that’s a geeky thing to do.

Am I actually a geek?

If you know your Myers-Briggs then I usually type as INFJ. We tend to be smart introverts. But we’re also very in tune with people. We’re also social chameleons who tend to blend in with the crowd.

Geeks in my mind are primarily INTJ’s. A big difference between NT and NF personality types is that NT’s use logic to make decisions. Much like computers I guess.

That’s not how I make decisions!

I might look like a geek (even down to wearing the obligatory spectactles). But internally I base all decisions on feelings and intuition. There’s no science there. When asked how I’ve come to a conclusion I can’t even tell you. Yeah, that’s been embarrassing on so many occasions. I can’t tell you how I arrive at a decision, because I use intuition and feelings. I can think things through logically, but that takes weeks and weeks. I am now on the Spring holiday and I haven’t yet booked a vacation. Because when it comes down to it I just cannot make a logical decision.

I Am Not A Cylon!

Am I actually a geek? Because I’ve been doing OK in the classroom.

In my first teaching job I’ve not had a lot of feedback. About all I got is “the teacher is cute” and “we do too much listening”. That was all I got from the school’s survey of the students.

They didn’t send anyone to observe my lessons. I had no official appraisal as such. I guess that’s OK really. At the end of the day, if the students are happy, then the school is happy. I have to remember that I am just a “dancing monkey”. I’m primarily here to get the students doing what they are generally worst at – speaking in English. Their grammar is not bad. Their spelling is impressive. And yet one day I walked into one of my colleagues’ classes and his students could not even tell me what their major was.

Epic fail.

So that’s why we foreign teachers are here in Asia and in other parts of the World.

But I digress…

I’ve always had doubts about whether or not I’m a true geek. I like writing code. But I’m not that interested in hardware. I couldn’t tell you what processor is in my computer. I’m not even sure I remember how much RAM it has.

Why am I a coder? Primarily because I’m a quick learner.

And I’ve been like that all through my life.

In fact I fell into a career in IT by sheer accident. After graduating I applied for all kinds of jobs. I never quite hacked it as a scientist, and in my first post-degree job I ended up writing documentation to show users how to use computers. When they discovered I could write a line of code or two, that escalated into a career as a programmer. I was largely pulled into it due to the skill shortages which meant that even I could be pretty much guaranteed an interview for around 60% of the jobs I applied for.

Before that I wasn’t particularly gifted as mathematics. Unlike my niece whose exam results place her in the top 2.5% of the population when it comes to maths. That I was any good at maths at all was almost entirely down to my Tiger Mom who saw I was slipping in maths class almost as soon as I started school. She made me do hours of extra maths homework every week (which I hated of course). Although I did well at science (beating the entire school year at Chemistry), my greatest grades were actually in the humanities and in the less technical sciences like Biology. I didn’t even manage to pass my A Level in maths – I got a U.

One last point. Do extraverts make better teachers than introverts? I should probably explore this in a future post. I’ve quietly observed a lot of teachers in my current school. I’ll say that by some distance the most popular teacher in my current school is an extreme extravert. Ah, all the students love him. But the best teacher is a quiet and unassuming introvert. Her students’ progress is amazing.

So who do YOU think make the best teachers? Geeks? Computer kluxes? Introverts? Extraverts? And if you know your MBTI type then post your type below, even if you’re an ESTJ who I never get along with.

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