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Working with different personalities in a classroom
There are so many different personalities that fill our classrooms each day. We must learn to identify what motivates our students to learn and how to work with their personalities and learning styles so they can have the best academic outcomes.
We should also recognise our own learning style and teach consciously using our strengths, while at the same time eliminating our weaknesses according to our own personality and learning type.
Orientation to life, perception, decision-making and the attitude toward the outside world.
The first part of the Myers-Briggs test focuses on the individual’s orientation to life. Are the student’s extroverts or introverts? This is easily observed and determined in the first few moments of a class. The students who are bold in greeting and quick to answer the questions are extroverts, while the timider students who need coaching tend to be the introverts.
The second part of the Myers-Briggs test is about the perception of the outside world, whether the individual is intuitive or sensing. The student who uses intuition is more likely to see the lesson in a broader category, while the sensing student will see things in a more concrete way.
The third part of the Myers-Briggs personality test refers to decision-making. A person may decide using their feelings, or they may decide using their thought processes. In a classroom, we can help our feeling students by encouraging them to listen to their gut after they have learned a concept, while we are reinforcing it. Those feeling students rely on their knowledge, though they may not be able to walk through the process step by step. They will be able to tell you an answer based on their gut feeling, which is their way of processing knowledge, without telling you the reason behind it. The thinking student may be able to tell you the reason, but they will take longer to answer at times because they aren’t processing based on a feeling. They must go step by step in their brain in order to answer a question posed by the teacher.
The fourth part of the Myers-Briggs personality test refers to the individual’s attitude toward the outside world. Each person leans either toward judgment or perception. This seems very similar to the sensory vs. intuition, and it is very much in the learning environment. The student who leans towards judgment will want a structured environment. The student who leans towards perception will prefer a less rigid approach and enjoy a trial-and-error approach.
As educators, we must remember that neither of these types is right or wrong. For a teacher to create a healthy and engaging environment in their classroom, we must keep in mind that not all students learn the same way.
Spend some time becoming aware of your own personality and learning style, and then study the types you do not have, so you can better meet the needs of your students.
Written by Jan Millsaps