A Note About Those Idealistic and Compassionate Students

This is part of a series of using Myers Briggs personality types in the classroom. For more information, click here. For information on how to figure out your student’s MBTI type, click here. 

You are 15 minutes into a math lesson on adding two-digit numbers and you start randomly calling on students to answer questions because you feel like generally, the class is understanding the concept. Calling random students is a tool for you to grasp where everyone is as a whole, as well as individually, and direct your teaching from there. 

“Sarah, what two numbers do we add first?”

Sarah looks at you with panic in her eyes, frantically searching the room for a way out. Tears are welling up, she can feel the lump in her throat as she tries to ignore her body’s initial reaction in order to answer the question without laughter from peers. 

“Um… The 2 and the 4?” Sarah says in a quiet voice, hoping no one can hear the fear in her voice. 

“Correct, Sarah!” 

The lesson moves on. 

Sarah, in this case, is an INFP. When interviewing 5 different people with the INFP personality type, I found that all 5 individuals had the same answer in their learning style- Do not call on us randomly in class. One even went as far as to say, “I will end up resenting you as a teacher for calling me out and making me answer in class without fair warning.”  Let’s take a deeper look into the INFP personality type. 

Introverted
I(N)tuition   
Feeling 
Perceiver 

INFP students do not work well under stress like some other may. They thrive in situations where they can take time to absorb as much information as possible in the way they choose. You most often will not find them studying for a test the night before and cramming in all of the last-minute information that they can because they will be studying for the test starting the day the material is presented.  

INFPs are introverted. They do not strive in group work, they will do best in individual studying, usually being creative in their own form, or reading the material from a book. Not only will the interaction with others overwhelm them, but they can feel limited in group work by not using their creative side as freely as possible. 

These students will be the ones who grow up to become teachers, counselors, musicians, or artists. They base so much of their daily lives on their feelings and emotions, making careers as doctors or nurses is almost impossible because of their emotional involvement in their work. They would become too attached and be devastated if and when something goes wrong. 

To best help INFP students, remember that it may be best to present information and step back. Often as teachers, we want to sit with kids and help them until they understand it fully. However, they will most likely gain a better idea of the concept if left on their own to take it in. 

Watch out for them during group work. If it seems to be stressing them out too much or if they are not thriving, give them additional, specific-to-them tasks to help them use their creativity and individualistic traits. Remember that they need breaks from others often to recharge. 

If an INFP student seems like they are not paying attention or looking up directly at the information you are presenting, it may be that the student is needing time to reflect and take in all the information, and looking up can cause more sensory than they can handle while learning a new concept. Check-in on them, but do not force them to be more actively involved, it could hinder their learning. 

INFPs are great students who love to give help where available. They can be excellent students to call on in time of need when notes need to be run to the office, peers need tutoring, or papers need filing. If they see that their work is noteworthy and useful, they will continue to give great assistance. 

Do you teach any INFP students? What tips would you add? 

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