Differentiating instruction is always a topic of conversation among teachers, no matter what you teach, or how many years you have been teaching. Different methods of differentiating instruction are also the topics of many staff development trainings. The MBTI theory of personality type is an excellent addition to a teacher’s toolbox. The theory examines the way people prefer to gain energy, take in information, make decisions, and approach life. It seems to me that this approach to differentiating instruction compliments other approaches and allows them to be used as a whole, as opposed to separate parts, to create lasting educational experiences for students.
One of my instructional goals, before I even considered taking this course, was to create a classroom environment that appealed, in some way, to every student. I wanted each student to feel like they had an important place in my health class and to feel comfortable while they were learning the concepts and skills pertaining to health. I knew I was reading the right book when Kise explained about “Flow”. It was exactly what I was looking for. The recipe for flow includes creating interesting tasks, with clear goals, which engage student’s abilities, and use immediate feedback as students proceed through the lessons (pg. 5). Now I have a plan as to how to direct my energies when creating and implementing lesson plans.
Before learning the ins and outs of differentiating instruction based on the personalities types of students, the first step was to identify and try to understand my own personality type. According to the MBTI assessment my profile is that of an INTJ. My scores seemed to float down the middle of the spectrum of the scoring sheet. I’m not sure if that has any meaning or not. I personally think it makes me able to be more empathetic to my opposite personality type, although I’m not sure if Myer and Briggs would agree with me. It took a while before I could agree with the instrument’s assessment of me, but, as I think back on my life experiences and how I have handled them, I feel it is pretty accurate.
According to the text by Kise, we, as teachers, tend to prefer a classroom that compliments our personality types. Teachers find it easy relating to students who have similar personalities. This is where I find I differ. I tend to plan for a classroom that meets the needs of the opposite, or the ESFJ, but I never let them take control knowing I have opposite students in the room. I enjoy my extraverted students as much as my introverted. This is where my mid-line scores might be of service to me. I am able to comfortably step on either side of the line and “see” where each set of students is coming from.
When examining two students in my teaching population, I chose a student who was opposite me, and one that was similar. Although I appreciate both types of students in my class I now realize why it takes a lot more energy to plan for and manage these opposite type students. They are my opposite. I tend to plan for them first. Not having thorough plans for that ESFJ could spell disaster in the classroom. When needing to change the tempo or instructional details of a class, meeting the needs of the student whose personality is similar is much easier than the one who is opposite. Understanding type preferences allows a teacher to appreciate (not necessarily like) some of the different behaviors exhibited by some students. Upon reflection a teacher can analyze the activities in the lesson and match them to the personality type it would most appeal to. Then they can decide what needs to be done to help the opposite type successfully complete the lesson.
When looking through the charts listing specific activities that help certain types learn, and what might go wrong if school isn’t working for them, I find that many of the suggested activities I already use. This has come from years of experience. Being an intuitive type, I can’t exactly tell you why they are good, or name any specific ability or disability that they match, they just work. By leaving a copy of the personality types and their descriptors in my lesson plans, I can always find the justifications that I might need to modify lessons. I appreciate having a theory to back me up.
So, what’s my next step? I’ve been thinking about refining my lessons to include a greater variety of activities. I want to include more technology and allow more choices of activities to achieve the lesson’s goals. I’ve sort of been spinning my wheels on how to do this. Differentiating lessons through personality types is resource I plan on using to complete this process. it has provided me with the “grip” I need.
One of the many health goals is for students to appreciate who they are and find the parts of them that they like. If lessons are structured so that they sometimes match their personality types and sometimes cause them to stretch and try new ways of managing challenging situations, students would then feel a combination of success by strength and success by learning new strategies. This would hopefully make them feel good about who they are and what they can accomplish. Self-esteem would be strengthened.
As you can see, I’m pretty excited about the possibilities for refinement and change. My learning is definitely not over in regards to differentiating through personality types. I am anxious to see how the student’s respond to the changes that I will make to my current lessons. I am pleased that I had the opportunity to experience this course and, I am excited about where it will take me.