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Does personality count when it comes to teaching?

Research suggests it does, and, if this is indeed the case, it raises a whole lot of questions about teacher recruitment. If schools could screen recruits to ensure they have the right character for the job, it could improve retention and boost pupils’ attainment. But, says Marc Smith, the science so far raises more questions than answers. And, in the grip of a recruitment crisis, would we want to limit the pool of applicants based on perceived personality traits?

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Do you think you’re a good fit for teaching? I don’t mean academically. Rather: would you say that your personality matches the job?

We certainly seem to believe that a “teacher personality” exists. We look for the “right kind of person” for teacher training or when recruiting. Friends tell us we are “such a teacher” if we display certain behaviour, and we often label ourselves that way, too. We can easily list the traits we think are associated with great teachers: empathy, persistence, resilience, grit and so on.

However, it is all guess work, really. We don’t research to see if there is ...

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