by Kathleen Carpenter, Editor
Another informal survey, asking teachers:
Are teachers more controlling than the general population?
That's a good question. Once in a while I do notice myself trying to control people, and then I think, stop it, let them decide. Hawkeye
Ever been in a group of teachers taking a personality or learning style profile test? About 75% of the room has the same personality type off the Keirsey test the last two times I was in such a situation. guardians - there are what, four types (?) of guardians and we were a mix of the four, but guardians we were in overwhelming majority. The three other traits were equally spread among the remaining 25%. Famous guardians - Queen Elizabeth I, George Washington, George and Barbara Bush, Colin Powell, Mother Theresa, and JP Morgan. lee
All I know is that I can't go to the movies/a concert/a dance performance, etc. in my hometown without wanting to control the behavior of the children who are running up and down the aisles, or the adults who are constantly talking during the performance! Mare
Are we more controlling than the general population?
Hmmmmm...well, not necessarily. I think you have a variety of personalities in teaching just as in anything else. (I have not had the same experience with personality profiles, other than most everyone scores high on "nurturing". Other traits seem to be across the board.) I do know that sometimes it is hard to take off the teacher hat...I have corrected language of kids in the Mall, for example. (Embarrassing...I apologize and explain "I'm a teacher and lost my head." They just laugh and apologize for their language.)
I suppose, though, that I would say some teachers are better managers than the general population because that is what we do all day. I know that when I'm in a group of people who are not teachers and if something isn't moving forward, I will eventually try to guide the situation into a direction. (No, I do not put on my little dictator hat. In fact, I usually try to stay out of things, but I can only take inaction for so long. Generally I would react within a small group and hope that someone more vocal and willing to step into the spotlight will do something.) Teechur
I began to realize this several years ago. Since then I have made trying to keep my controlling instincts under control as one of my ongoing goals. I do notice it around me on the job, out in public, in social situations and here on Teachers.Net. There are a few who really stand out both in real life and on this site. They talk a good talk, saying how open and excepting they are and at the same time are attempting to control others or set themselves up to be in controlling positions. I also believe that because of this controlling nature, teachers are a difficult group to control which is one of the main reasons that teachers have not been able to mobilize under one set of goals and move forward more rapidly as a profession. Mem
Yes, I think teachers tend to be more controlling as a group than people who work in several other professions. A large part of a teacher's job -- or maybe better said, what helps to contribute to the success a teacher has in his/her job -- is management (classroom management, time management, curriculum management, organizational management, etc.) Good management is, in a sense, good control of situations. In these examples, I think "control" would be viewed as positive.
On the more negative side, it appears to me that many teachers do tend to want to control things even those things not directly related to their jobs. Teachers are expected to be in charge/control of their classrooms, but some take it much further than that. Many teachers seem to have the characteristic of wanting to change other people, or, in other words, control the way others do things in their lives. Although I'd like to think this is usually done with good intentions, many teachers have the idea that they know what's better for others. Sometimes they do, but many times they don't. It seems to me that an overly large percentage of teachers are the type who want to stick their noses into things which really shouldn't concern them in an effort to be controlling. Not a Control Freak
Are police more controlling than the general population? Are military officers? Are Doctors? Are CEOs of large companies? I think that any profession that requires organizational skill, decisiveness, and the ability to delegate and direct others would naturally bring out controlling tendencies, or attract people that already demonstrate these tendencies. Clement
I'm an ex-pat from the USA living in another country. One of the cultural distinctions which I began to observe shortly after moving was the non-aggressive, non-controlling general attitude of the people in the country where I now reside compared to people in the USA. It's very rare to see someone (teacher or other person) comment on what someone else does "wrong" especially if the other person is a stranger or not directly under one's supervision. In any situation, if verbal criticism is made, it's usually done in a very non-aggressive manner. In the majority of cases with strangers, the only reaction would be an unusual look or expression on the person's face with no words said at all.
It seems to me that wanting to control others is a very common characteristic of American culture. Just look at all the laws, ordinances, rules, and regulations regarding anything and everything which can be found in America and the extent to which Americans go to try to enforce them. Ex-pat
I don't know if teachers begin their career that way but to me it stands to certain reason that they might become that way. We each teach in the small kingdoms that are our classrooms. Within those four walls we have tremendous power over the lives of young students in front of us. There's no one who can really challenge us and we don't like if parents do so. We don't like to be questioned by our colleagues and we look askance at new teachers to be sure they won't rock the boat and alter the pecking order.
Schools are isolated places - not connected to the real world around them and many of us have never worked outside schools. Our audiences or clientele are largely guaranteed. We don't have to compete for students as businesses do for clients.
If we're not controlling when we go into it, there are many circumstances which would lend themselves to teachers becoming very controlling people. Middle School Teacher
I can only speak for myself, but I noticed that I became more controlling after a few years teaching. It's not so much about power as suggested here, though it could easily be construed that way. For me, it started with the lack of structure and routine with which so many kids entered my classroom. You know what I mean - the "general" lack of self-control and disrespect that middle school students present when not supervised, monitored, cajoled, or challenged to do their best.
By middle school, you would think that more young people (and their parents) would have a little better perspective and concern about what they need to do. But they seem to know so much less than expected. At least they appear be less prepared or knowledgeable then the first few groups of kids I taught 15 years ago.
The frustration sets in as does the tremendous feeling that so much needs to be "done" to catch these kids up. I feel the same way about my stepson who is in the same grade level I teach. He just doesn't seem to "get" a lot of what is taught and which is on grade level though we work with him intensely. He requires more supervision and motivation than most students. He has some control over his homework - which subjects to start with, what time to start. etc. But some things are not negotiable. The amount of time spent and the number of subjects to complete. But we find if we don't monitor, things slip all the way around…chores, missing assignments, grades etc.
So with all that teachers feel that are doing, no, we don't particularly like to be challenged when we put so much hard work, money from our own pockets, and time...so much time it seems.
In my classroom, it takes only a few weeks 3-4 before most students really seem to understand and appreciate classroom expectations and routine. Their behavior and performance can be quite lovely and rewarding once they begin to understand the structure and benefits of hard work. Some don't completely get it, of course. And it's not always long term.. Sometimes they can be quite different in someone else's class. A lot of it depends on the chemistry of the group(s). The success of a class may be something that teachers want to replicate from year to year. There is certainly a degree of "control" that is necessary to achieve that success.
So outside or work, like at home, I do find myself rather controlling, looking for "order" and "routine" to simplify and focus our lives here, to put things in perspective, have a place for everything, and "make sense" of it all - drives everyone crazy…sometimes even me.
In community organizations I do try to hold my tongue about how to do things, but my husband always points out that there could be a better way to get things done, and he looks to me to guide the way. Darn him! dalily
"In fact, I usually try to stay out of things, but I can only take inaction for so long."
That statement by "teechur" applies for ALL the teachers I have known (myself included). From our classroom experience, most of us have the ability to see how a task can be quickly & efficiently completed. Most of us can also foresee multiple potential pitfalls (again from classroom experience, in planning we attempt to foresee any problems or questions that might arise).& most of us can tolerate inaction/indecisiveness for a far shorter period of time than the general population.
Not that that's a BAD thing... <G> LEE