As you move to a more student-centered learning environment, the role of teacher as facilitator becomes critically important. If you honor the reality that not all students are ready to learn the same content at the same time in the same way, you have to vacate the front of the room and get elbow-deep in the learning experience with your students. While you can find many perspectives and tools for facilitation on the IDEportal and in my books Students Taking Charge (ch. 8) and It’s Not What You Teach But How (ch. 7), here’s a more advanced perspective on facilitation: leveraging your and your students’ Myers-Briggs types in the process.

Note: Type Talk is a great book for understanding the individual type letters and the 16 personality types. You can use this to build your skills in typing the people around you. While it is best to have a trained test administrator administer the test, here is a free online survey that seems to provide fairly accurate results for adults. For children, this free online tool can help you assess the child’s type. Children seem to develop their energy (E/I) and structural (J/P) preferences first, then their information (N/S) preference, and lastly, their decision-making (F/T) preference.


Let’s consider the energy lens of the E and the I, as the differences can significantly affect facilitation of learning.

The E gains energy from being involved with others and objects in the external world; the I gains energy from being involved in the inner world of thoughts and mental images. E’s, therefore, tend to “think with their mouths,” often speaking immediately after a question or point is presented. I’s like to think through their response before they speak. This can lead I’s to think that E’s are loudmouths who monopolize conversations, while the wait time that is characteristic of the I personality can make E’s feel like the I is being critical, not liking what the E just said. Now translate that interaction to the classroom.

An E teacher with an I student: During facilitation, the I’s wait time might make the E teacher think the student is incapable or does not understand the work. If the E teacher jumps in with an explanation or answer, the I student might become frustrated, feeling that s/he didn’t get the chance to present the solution or answer. If you’re an E teacher facilitating an I student, take a few seconds to pause before responding, allowing the I student to take a few seconds to pause before responding.

An I teacher with an E student: During facilitation, the I teacher might feel that the E student is jumping to conclusions or lacks thoughtfulness. When the E student asks a question or offers an answer, the I teacher’s wait time might make the E student feel that the teacher didn’t like the question or answer, causing the student to second-guess or begin offering a different question or answer. If you’re an I teacher facilitating an E student, use cue words to allow yourself the processing time you like, such as “Let me think on that,” or simply summarizing back the question or answer.

As you learn more about Myers-Briggs personality types:

  1. Consider how the letter holder might perceive the opposite letter.
  2. Be mindful of your letters and those of your students.
  3. Take deliberate steps to minimize the differences in your facilitation.