kopp.jpgWendy Kopp, CEO of Teach for America, the company that recruits for difficult teaching positions in urban and rural schools, was recently interviewed by The New York Times.

Kopp stated, “we desperately need people who are going to be visionary thinkers, set big goals and own the responsibility for meeting them.” The most predictive personality trait in forecasting whether a teacher will be successful is “perseverance, or what we would call internal locus of control.”

“People who in the context of a challenge .. have the instinct to figure out what they can control, and to own it, rather than to blame everyone else in the system. In this case, there are so many people who could be blamed — kids, kids’ families, the system. And yet you’ll go into schools and you’ll see people teaching in the same hallway, and some have that mentality of, ‘It’s not possible to succeed here,’ and others who are just prevailing against it all. And it’s so much about that mind-set and the instinct to remain optimistic in the face of a challenge.”

Kopp’s thoughts about the personality traits of persistence, optimism, and a can-do attitude that are necessary to survive and thrive in the challenging environment of inner city schools apply pretty much everywhere in life.

Closing Quote: “Think you can, think you can’t, you are right.”