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What type of teacher are you?

A report has identified four kinds of teacher – idealists, practitioners, rationalists and moderates. Where do you fit?

Why did you become a teacher? Was it to a) improve society, b) help students, c) have a steady career or d) a bit of all three? If you wanted to improve society, you may be an idealist – one of the four teacher types outlined in a recent report. Researchers looked at teachers’ reasons for joining and leaving the profession, and identified four classifications from the results. The study notes, however, that teachers could have qualities from different categories over the course of their careers.

The idealist

This type really cares about making a difference, not just to their students but to society in general. They see improving social justice as a key part of their role, and when looking for a job they think about where they can have the greatest impact.

These teachers are also attracted to the job because they love their subject and have a desire to work with young people. Their motivation does not waver either; 29% said they strongly disagreed that they had considered leaving the profession in the past six months, compared with 25% of teachers overall.

The practitioner

This type is not so much interested in contributing to society as in contributing to the development of their own students. They are in the profession because they want to be teachers, they enjoy their craft and they are committed to the job. Practitioners are also strong believers in the importance of continued professional development. When deciding where to teach, they consider the character of a school – including aspects such as student behaviour and attainment.

The rationalist

This type of teacher joined the profession for practical reasons. They believe they can make a difference but are also pragmatic, realising that they need a job with good pay and holidays. These factors play an important role in keeping them in the profession, as does their enjoyment of school culture. They work in places that enable them to have an impact but also offer a good quality of life. Rationalists, however, can tend towards negativity, with 50% having considered leaving the profession in the last six months. They are also less likely than other teacher types to say that they would recommend the job to their younger selves.

The moderate

The type of teacher isn’t likely to raise strong opinions in the staffroom – it’s Mr or Mrs Middle of the Road. There is no one factor that brings them into the profession. In fact, they are motivated by many things (from a love of their subject to the need for a job) and they stay for a range of reasons. Half of this group is open-minded about where they work in terms of location, while the other half makes the decision after considering personal and school-specific factors. They are, however, more likely to move because of their family or partner.

When it comes to recommending the job to students and their younger selves, this type is less enthusiastic – only half would do so, compared with three-quarters of “practitioners”. They are also more likely to have considered leaving the profession in the last six months than “idealists” and “practitioners”.

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