Why INFJs Make Great Teachers!

Teaching can be a hard job. I write a lot in my blog about the challenges in teaching. A big challenge and major bummer is all the extra stuff that eats into my personal time. I spend a few hours every night doing work for class: grading, research, planning lessons, labs, and activities. It takes so much energy and focus to stay ahead of all the teaching and grading. It can be grueling, especially from the beginning of the year until the first real break at Thanksgiving. But year after year, I still do it. It’s hard work, but I know the importance of my role as a teacher. I really care about my students and I enjoy helping them. I try to be a positive influence in their lives and I want to help them succeed in life.

I’ve been lucky to work with many awesome people in my teaching career. Some are funny, all of them are helpful, and a quality that many teachers share is that they are caring. They give extra of themselves, their time, and their energy to get the job done. Caring is a personality trait that makes a great teacher and it is also a quality of an INFJ personality type. I am an INFJ and I am also a teacher. In this blog post I’ll write about:

  • INFJ qualities as strengths in teaching.
  • Some INFJ qualities that represent challenges in teaching.
  • How students are unique and benefit from distinct personalities of different people.
  • No matter your personality type, you have special talents that you bring to the table.

Only 1% of the Population are INFJ, Making it the Most Rare of All the Personality Types

In my Statistics class for my teaching degree, our professor told us about values that make a high quality educator. Empathy was at the top of the list. Anecdotally, our Statistics teacher said that the best teachers are INFJ. Their patient and nurturing ways make a safe and supportive environment to learn in. As an exercise, we took a personality test. There are many out there, but the test we took is the 16 Personalities Test. You can take the test online for free. If you haven’t already, or if you’re curious to see what you get now, take the personality assessment. I am curious to see what you get!

We took the test and I got INFJ – introverted, intuitive, feeling, and judging. Just google image search INFJ or any of the personalities to see descriptions of the different traits. How close does yours sound to you? I typically get INFJ, but I have taken the test before and received INFP. INFJs believe in constant growth and are capable of great personal achievement. They are gentle and caring people. They are highly intuitive people who are concerned for others’ feelings. I’ve read jokingly that INFJs empathize with sand. They have a funeral for the ant that they accidentally stepped on. I can relate to this in a big way. I spent hours over a weeklong vacation in Malta rescuing bees and beetles from the pool. My father-in-law even spoke about it at my rehearsal dinner!

In the same lesson, our Statistics teacher told us that only 1% of the population are INFJ, making it the most rare of all the personality types. This definitely took me by surprise! I always knew that I cared for people and animals on an extremely deep level, and that others did not relate to me in the same way. Next, our teacher asked the class to raise our hands if we were INFJ. There were about 20 of us in the classroom on that day. Out of the 20 of us, about 5 or 6 hopeful teachers raised their hands. As many as ⅓ of us were the most uncommon personality type! It’s amazing to me how so many INFJs found their way there. I certainly didn’t take a straight path, and many of the other hopeful teachers also had past experience working elsewhere before transitioning into teaching. We shared a deep concern for the well-being of young people and everyone, and saw teaching as an opportunity to make an impact.

These are some of the traits of the INFJ personality type. Even if INFJs make great teachers, they still have challenge areas and places to grow.

Strengths of INFJs in Teaching

Teaching is a lot of work. Like, a lot. There’s just so much that goes into being an effective teacher. It requires a lot of researching, planning, creating, and reflection. Lesson planning and grading can consume multiple hours of my personal time every night. I can focus for long periods of time, and to a degree I really enjoy the solitude of my work when I am not in front of students. So I think my introverted nature is an asset when it comes to getting the job done. I just wish I didn’t have to sacrifice so much of my personal time to do it.

Students don’t care what you know until they know that you care. INFJ’s can use their intuition and feeling qualities to create a classroom environment and lessons that are responsive to students. Whether it’s a puzzled face, a sad demeanor, or a longing for connection, a perceptive teacher can pick up on things and respond to their students and their needs. A caring teacher builds trust and respect with their students. Trust and respect contribute to positive interactions with students, a classroom culture that is safe, and ultimately a productive learning environment.

As an INFJ I am also judging, and I put a lot of thought and energy into improving my lessons, resources, and the classroom systems I have in place. My brain is always working. Like many teachers, I also have to put a lot of my personal time into my work. Late nights lesson planning and early start times leave me feeling overworked and tired. Sometimes I wish I could just turn off my brain when I leave, and “clock in and out,” like some teachers I know. But ultimately, the judging trait means that I have a built-in growth mindset. I am always striving to learn, grow, and improve, and that’s amazing!

Some INFJ Personality Traits Represent Challenge Areas

INFJs can be exceptional people, but nobody is perfect, and we’re all humans not robots. Whether you are INFJ or not, there will be challenges you will face as a teacher. INFJs like me can be sensitive to conflict and don’t tolerate it very well. They can be assertive, or turbulent. I worked in one science department where I felt like I clashed a little with some of the bigger personalities in the group. They had strong opinions and liked the way they did things. I didn’t speak up as much as I wanted to, and I sometimes felt like I was on an island by myself.

As an INFJ, I definitely exhibit the qualities of an introvert. I would be perfectly content keeping myself company most of the time. But as a teacher, I am constantly interacting with students, collaborating with colleagues, and contacting parents. That’s a lot of human contact! And it can be draining for me. After a long day, an event, or altercation, I need time to wind down and recharge my batteries. Thank goodness for school breaks, when I can seriously unwind and take some major chill time. With the understanding that I needed to do more to get out of my head from my stressful and busy workday, I pursued meditation. I needed to do more to nurture my introverted side and stop my wheels from constantly spinning. I started transcendental meditation this year, and the transformation was profound! My students straight up asked me what happened to make me so happy.

Do You Need to be INFJ to be an Effective Teacher? Definitely Not!

You might know this yourself already, but students are all over the spectrum and have big personalities and do crazy things. Students aren’t all INFJ either. They may not relate well to INFJ personalities, and want to seek out common attitudes in other personality types. I was insulted in the past by a parent and her child because of their preference for her boisterous, joke-telling, entertaining, history teacher. In a parent teacher conference with all of her teachers, the mom and student basically said that I should be more like her history teacher if she was going to learn anything from me. It hurt my feelings. (Afterall, the “F” in INFJ stands for feelings, haha.) But if she learned some discipline, curiosity and wonder for the world around her, and the impact of being kind while she breezed in late with her daily Starbucks and interrupted my class, then I’m satisfied. Her other teachers will inspire her in ways I didn’t, but my influence on her learning and the impact I made won’t hurt. I don’t take it personally now. I know that students are diverse and have unique needs that cannot be filled by one person alone.

30% of the teachers in my program were INFJ, so there’s a good chance if you’re reading this then you might be INFJ too! Do you need to be INFJ to be an effective teacher? Definitely not! We make connections with people that we can’t explain. Some people you just vibe with better than others. Students are complex and hungry for knowledge. They need many people to look up to. They need guidance and support, and the more teachers, parents, caregivers, and role models in a student’s life means a stronger support network for them. It’s good that students make lots of connections and feel inspired by different personalities. No matter your personality type, you can make an impact as a teacher. You will inject life, energy, and perspective into your relationships. Students and teachers alike will benefit from your talents, and any school would be lucky to have you!

What is your personality type? What do you think are some of the strengths and challenges for your personality type? Let me know by leaving a comment! I would love to hear from you! To read more about me and my classroom, check out my blog posts below!

I received this lovely Thank You card from a student. It was during the same schoolyear that my other student and her parent said I should be more like another teacher. I may have doubted myself after the parent teacher conference, but I received validation from my students like this card everyday. I could feel that students appreciated my efforts and enjoyed how I did things in my class. Some didn’t want to leave!

4 thoughts on “Why INFJs Make Great Teachers!

  1. Thank you for this article. I am an INFJ, and I always feel a little out of place. My classroom has a quiet atmosphere most of the time. I have had kids say my class is “chill”. I sometimes compare myself to teachers who are more extroverted, but I know that I would tire out if I tried to use that much of my energy every day. I think we do well as teachers because we can “read” the room really well. I can adapt to most (not all) personality types. I can pick up on “vibes” quite accurately most of the time. That is very helpful when working with so many people at once. The downside is that it is exhausting. At the end of the day, I function on autopilot.


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