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How Your Personality Affects Your Teaching

Have you ever noticed how some people seem to naturally have traits that make teaching seem effortless to them, while others may struggle in a specific area? Maybe you have personal experiences where your personality traits have made certain elements of teaching difficult for you while others just seem to come naturally.

Understanding your personality traits through the lens of what psychologists call “The Big 5 Personality Traits” also known as “O.C.E.A.N.” can give you insight and strategies to close the gap between where you are with your teaching and where you want to be. Let’s explore!


Openness to experience is a trait characterized by creativity, adventurousness, and a broad range of interests. People who are high in openness tend to like new ideas and think in abstract concepts while people low in openness tend to be more analytical and traditional.

High Openness:

  • Creative

  • Open to new experiences

  • Abstract thinking

Low Openness

  • Analytical

  • Traditional

  • Not very imaginative

How to improve:

If you are high in openness use your creativity to your advantage when planning activities but remember to base your teaching outcomes on concrete measurable data.

If you are low in openness and struggle to find creative resources to bring to your classroom consider asking others for ideas or searching for and or purchasing resources online.


Conscientiousness is the trait that is characterized by a person’s organization, attention to detail, and goal-directedness. Conscientious people do what they say they will do and tend to be, on time and reliable.

High Conscientiousness

  • Completes important tasks quickly

  • Organized and prepared

  • Detail oriented

Low Conscientiousness

  • Unorganized

  • Procrastinates

  • Forgetful or unstructured schedule

How To Improve:

If you are high in conscientiousness this likely serves you well in the classroom, but you may have students that are not used to structure. Consider ways to help your students learn to be more conscientious by using things like checklists for task completion and visible manipulatives like timers to help students conceptualize time management and organization.

If you are low in conscientiousness then create a routine with time limits to help you with daily tasks (the “Routinist” app for iPhone is great for this). Try to form a habit of immediately writing down tasks (preferably in a smart phone with a reminder alarm) in one place and find a way to remind yourself to look back at them later. Create lists with time limits and follow them using a timer. Find a method of organization that works for you or ask a conscientious friend what they do and follow that as a routine. Conscientiousness is like a muscle, it can be improved but it takes time and work.


Extraversion is characterized a persons sociability, expressiveness, and ability to gain energy from social situations. Extraverts tend to like to be the center of attention and have broad circles of friends.

High Extraversion

  • Loves meeting new people

  • Energized by being around others

  • Tends to be expressive and sometimes speaks before thinking

Low Extraversion

  • Exhausted by a lot of social interaction

  • Difficult to start conversations or make small talk

  • Prefers solitude or small group of friends

How to improve:

If you are high in extraversion, this makes standing up in front of your students and teaching easy and enjoyable. You can improve by being aware that not everyone like being the center of attention and being careful not to single students out unless they are comfortable with it. This could mean singing tests in small groups or pairing students for tasks.

If you are low in extraversion, teaching and seeing people all day may exhaust you. Be sure to take your lunchtime to recharge and try to schedule your days so you are not constantly overwhelming yourself with social interactions after work. In short learn to be “on the stage” but give yourself time to recover.


Agreeable people tend to be kind, empathetic and cooperative. They tend to say yes a lot and hate disappointing people.