Sunday, October 7, 2012

Understanding Personality Styles is Key to Classroom Management


Classroom
Classroom (Photo credit: James F Clay)

During pre-planning this year, I spoke at Woodstock Elementary School about connecting with students in the classroom.  We reviewed the DISC personality style and discussed how our personal personality style impacts the classroom. There are four basic personality styles and here's a short summary of each of the personality style characteristics:

D: dominant, determined, doer, demanding
I: inspiring, influencing, interactive
S: stable, supportive, sweet, shy
C: cautious, competent, calculating, concerned

This could be a typical classroom scenario:
You are a high ‘C’ teacher and you have just entered the classroom well prepared with lesson plans in hand. Your lesson  is well organized and covers the entire required curriculum standards. You have even put in extra time researching the material and have a whole bonus section to share. Part of the lesson involves dividing your class into groups to complete a group project. You know you are going to give a perfect lesson. Your class is the usual mix of students but includes the following:


Donald is a high ‘D” student who dominates every discussion and has an answer to every question. He even makes suggestions to you as to how to teach the lesson. He thinks some of the facts that you are presenting are incorrect. He finishes his work quickly and wants to know what else he can do while everyone is working. When placed in a group to work on a project, he takes charge, divides up the assignment and tells everyone what they should do. He does not listen to other group member’s suggestions and insists his way is the best. Everyone in his group comes to you and asks to be reassigned to another group.

Isabelle is a high ‘I’ student who has a lot on her mind but learning is not really part of it. She has come to see her friends and meet new ones! She loves people and school is simply an environment for socializing. She likes to have fun and has a clever comment to make related to just about everything. She talks to her neighbor, passes notes back and forth and shuffles papers the whole time you are teaching. She loves the idea of a group project because then she can talk with her friends even more.

Carl is a high ‘C’ student who likes to learn. He asks a lot of questions about the material that you are teaching. When assigned to a group project, he wants to know all the details; what are the requirements? What is the topic? Can they change the topic? How long does the report need to be? Who is responsible for each section? How will the grade be determined? Exactly how long will they have to work on the report? 

Sally is a high ‘S’ student and with all the commotion in the classroom, it is easy to forget that she is even there. She is a little shy and never volunteers an answer or asks a question, although when called on she always tries hard to please. In her group, she is quiet unless someone else needs help. She is always the first to offer her assistance. She has a lot of ideas to share but the other group members move so fast that she is usually left out. When she leaves the classroom, she always gives you a hug and tells you to have a nice day.

Sound familiar? How successful are you going to be in delivering your lesson? What is the secret fuel or motivation for each personality? How can you ensure that the groups work well together and actually fulfill the requirements of the project? Understanding the personality types is the key.



Sometimes you read a book that really captures a personality style perfectly. Deb Fox's book: The Quiet Kid is one of those books. She compares the quiet personality of the child to a sailboat and you can just feel the peace and calm through her amazing illustrations that accompany the poem.

 Recently there has been renewed interest and research on the quiet or introverted personality. Referred to as the "S" personality style in the DISC profile, they can be described as shy, reserved and reluctant to move outside of the status quo.  About 30-35% of the population is wired with the S type personality.  They have lots of wonderful qualities including: steady, stable and supportive. They are people pleasers with a servant's heart, who often consider others and their needs first. 'S' type children are delightful to be around and if you have one in your family or your classroom, you are blessed. They are highly motivated to perform and please the adults around them. They are the students who draw a picture or write you a letter to let you know that you are the best teacher in the world.

I've added The Quiet Kid to my book shelf as a great resource for the many quiet or "S" personality style children that I see.  You might want to consider it as well. 






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