Author Archives: christopherclauss

Final Paper finished TWO whole days early…am I really still a P???

It is sometimes difficult to look back on a journey, having gained new perspective, and fully recall the perspective with which one began.  At the beginning of this course, I surely had an awareness of personality type, but primarily attuned to the Introvert/extravert dichotomy when it came to thinking about my students.  I suppose today this is still true, but I am beginning to attend to other type distinctions as well and am more conscious of implementing a variety of communication, planning, and activity strategies in my lessons each week.

One of the first takeaways that struck me, though it should have been obvious, is that it helps to understand my own personality type.  I’d been assuming I would learn about the types of different students and then figure out better ways to instruct to their particular type.  While this is certainly the case, I first needed to figure out what my own type meant for me as a teacher.  I had to suspend the notion that I teach by default in a type-neutral way.  Doing so enabled me to identify my own tendencies and preferences in order to then be able to build upon and deviate from them to accommodate a more broad span of types.

As a teacher, I identified my own type as INTP.  As an introvert, my preference is for a quiet classroom with one voice and one conversation going at a time.  I prefer smaller classes of students and long classes with no break to interrupt the teaching.  As a student myself in college courses (including this one) I’ve never understood the need for a whole-class break in the middle of a long session.  I’d have much preferred to keep plowing through, finish a few minutes earlier, and let anyone who needed to slip out to the bathroom or water fountain do it on his/her own schedule.  I understand that everyone doesn’t experience class time this way, and now I have a better grasp on why this is the case.  In structuring my own classroom, I value hands-on learning but like to provide copious structure beforehand and keep it confined to a tight schedule rather than provide extra time for investigation.  While these approaches may work for some students, it is clearly not a structure that leads to success for them all.  Throughout my teaching career it has been a challenge to structure lessons that were “extravert friendly,” allowing for movement and group work, making opportunities to talk whenever they like and interact with large numbers of classmates.  As I reflect on the lessons I’ve planned during the weeks of this class, I beleive I have shifted the frequency with which I integrate these opportunities.  Going forward, my challenge will be to make this shift the norm, as it is still not always my first inclination.

In reflecting on my tendencies as an intuitive teacher, I don’t see such a strong leaning to one extreme in the planning and structure of lessons.  I think I’ve always struck a good balance between providing structured assignments and practice on the one hand and emphasizing the big picture and application on the other.  If anything, I think my tendency is to stick with the fundamentals too long and not always provide opportunities for the intuitive students to exercise their imagination and critical thinking during some classes.  When I find things that work, I will use them over again.  Routines are good to have for all students because they make class more efficient.  When students know what the expectations are they can focus more on the academic content and less on figuring out the details of the task.  That being said, I like to balance repetitive routine with modifications and trying new things, particularly when I’m teaching a new subject or if I am not seeing success with the original plan.  I think I have always been able to strike a pretty healthy balance between flexibility and structure.

I am very much a stickler for rules and consistency in the classroom.  In self-assessing my type at the outset of the class, I conceded that this made the Thinking description describe me better as a teacher, although I was still hesitant to say so definitively.  What really tipped me over was having the instructor say she needed me to pick one, and that she thought Thinking seemed to make the most sense because I have a tendency to be critical.   Whether this criticism and rule adherence is a result of being a thinking type I’m not so sure, however.  

I’ve been reflecting upon this lately and realized a few things. First, logical criticism is often an emotional response for me.  Feeling conflicted about my own type and having a hard time wrapping my head around the alphabet soup had me reading the first few chapters with one eyebrow raised already.  My adherence to rules, similarly, is not necessarily my preference all the time as much as it is the need to clearly communicate expectations and support the expectations of administrators and other teachers in the school.  

My first year teaching I would give students gum to chew in math class if they got their homework done the night before.  There was no school policy against this, but months later at a faculty meeting my co-workers were all complaining about their gum-chewing students, the gum getting stuck under tables, and how “we never had this problem before.”  I just about sank into the floor.  That experience, along with a principal who walked into my classroom once to confront me with, “Why are you letting that student wear a hat?” made me into a rule-enforcer big-time.  The motivation for me to be like that wasn’t from my need to have rigid guidelines but from my fear that not setting expectations will cause problems with my colleagues and supervisors, and I can’t stand conflict with adults.  I can not count the number of colleagues I have overheard complaining that policies are not uniformly enforced, and that teachers need to do their jobs and not make up their own rules.  I am not one of the complainers.   I still remember the feeling of each of those moments. I’m the one worrying I’m being complained about.  This is definitely a primarily Feeling trait.  I’ve also been experiencing great stress in recent months over a few disconnects with students and coworkers.  If I was more Thinking I would likely be able to let this go more easily, but it still weighs on me deeply.  

On the other hand, as a scientist I value logic and analysis, and I keep rigor and competency as my top priorities in instruction.  I desperately want students to enjoy their experience in science, but at the end of the day I would sleep better knowing my students all learned the material whether or not they liked it than that they all liked the material whether or not they learned it – because the enjoyment part is not the essential element of the job description.  Of course, both are ideal and are what I strive for. So, I’m ending this course having come full circle, back to doubting whether I can call myself a T or F.  I’m both, and I’ve seen some evidence in my reading that validates this. “The distinction between principles and values is made in the type literature but may be a semantic rather than a real difference…” (Bayne, 34)  In the MBTI, thinking and feeling are opposite poles of a continuum. In reality, they’re independent… if you like ideas and data, you can also like people and emotions. In fact, more often than not, they go hand in hand” (Grant).  I know there are other (some say better) ways to parse personality in this area (5-factor theory, DeBono’s “6 hats:) and I would be very interested in learning more about them to help flesh out my understanding.  While I can’t see my own T/F type as one or the other, I Can recognize extremes in some of my students, and this will be my take-away for now.  Providing rationale and opportunities to experience success and leadership will benefit my students’ thinking type preferences, while integrating stories and personal connection into lessons will provide avenues for feeling students to connect and relate to content.

I have come to identify some of my perpetual struggles as a teacher as manifestations or my Perceptive personality type.  I can not for the life of me plan ahead more than a few classes. I’ve tried to do this for the last 18 years, both in my year-long curriculum planning and my week-long unit planning.  I am simply incapable of predicting how long something will take students to complete during class, how many repeptitions/review opportunities will be required to achieve mastery, or even gauge how much time I have left in a class period.  Rather than laying out a specific unit plan and then changing deadlines repeatedly, I have compensated by being non-specific and allowing for that flexibility up front: “The test is scheduled for the end of next week, but I may push it to Monday if we need an extra day. ”  I don’t know if this is the best compromise or not.  

One of the strategies mentioned in the text chapter on math and science instruction was to “Preplan both scaffolding techniques and extensions to keep all students engaged.” (Kise 133)  This is something I have been trying to do lately in my classes, but I am struggling with being overwhelmed in the management of so much extra planning and grouping.  I also don’t have a strategy for how to differentiate grading for the students who go ahead to enrichment level work or how to count the work students do by way of remediation.  In theory, the grade should be in the assessment of competency proficiency, but it also seems unfair to expect students who learn quickly to do enrichment work with no academic reward.

On the whole, I’m leaving this class with a lot more planning to do, and a lot more processing over how I can better serve the diverse set of personality types in my classroom.  I am overwhelmed by how much there is to keep in mind, and I am as yet unable to make quick assessments of students’ type (other than I/E) without the textbook cheat sheets in hand.  It’s hard enough just remembering what my own type is all about half the time.   I am glad to have had the time to process and re-process through the different types to help me down this road.

 

Works Cited

Bayne, Rowan. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: A Critical Review and Practical Guide. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes, 1994. Print.

Grant, Adam.  “Goodbye to MBTI, the fad that won’t die.” Psychology Today. 18 Sep 2013. 11 Feb 2016. <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/give-and-take/201309/goodbye-mbti-the-fad-won-t-die&gt;

Kise, Jane.  Differentiating Through Personality Types: A Framework for Instruction, Assessment, and Classroom Management. New York: Skyhorse, 2006.

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Unit plan using Graphic organizer (The Four Learning Styles)

The current unit covers both scientific method and the physics of simple motion.

Lab #1 was used to walk students through the scientific method, making a hypothesis, identifying variables, collecting data, and comparing results with the hypothesis.
I differentiated this lab in several ways, breaking it into two parts:  First, for the Intravert-Sensing students I provided the procedure for the first part of the lab. in writing, and we demonstrated the procedure, which had a simple prediction to make and an easily predictable answer.  Students then read through a scenario about another student who took the next step, modifying their technique to study a different question.  After responding to this hypothetical scenario, students were given the opportunity to test it out for themselves in the second part.
The second part of the lab provided students with two options. The first was a guided inquiry task, in which the procedure was scripted for Sensing students to follow, while the other option was an open inquiry task, allowing the Thinking students to choose their own independent and dependent variables to employ, while still assessing the same learning targets

The first week of the physics unit seems very easy for many students, but it is crucial as a foundation for later learning.  I began several sections of the unit with an admonition to be sure they didn’t take these early weeks too lightly, explaining how they fit into a bigger picture, which the Extravert-Sensing students are looking for.   After introducing concepts of distance and displacement in class, students engaged in a lab activity that allowed the students (E-S) to apply the learning immediately, moving around and working in groups.

When students in one class largely did not complete the weekend assignment, I gave a review/reteaching task and allowed them to choose to work alone or in groups to finish it, allowing both Introverts and Extraverts to engage it in their preferred method, either independently or corporately.  Students who had completed their assignment were allowed to choose to either do the review task or work together to begin the evening’s speed/velocity questions, even thought the concepts had not yet been introduced.  This gave them a chance to try to do the learning on their own if they chose, before the rest of the class caught up with them at the end of the period.

It seemed as thought these lesson plans worked fairly well with the targeted groups in terms of in-class completion of assignments.  With some classes, poor work ethic keeps them from doing anything once class is over, so it’s hard to tell whether a benefit was seen on those assignments.

Classroom Management Strategies

I have one class in particular that is stacked with a good number of freshmen who have yet to develop the study skills and self-discipline expected at the high school level.  They tend to do little homework, seldom attempt to prepare for upcoming assessments outside of class, and have tepid response to instructions to transition in class (take out your notebooks, move to this location, put on safety glasses, etc.)

Several of the strategies for “students that struggle to complete work” were similar to a strategy I already had attempted, having them set their own new year’s resolution after doing some reflection on their past performance.  I have not seen a notable change from most students, so I’m reluctant to try a similar thing again.  I may, however, have them write down their choice when given options on future assignments, which was another recommendation.

In order to prompt this slow-moving class to transition more urgently, I tried drawing the “if there’s time” line on the agenda in the class, with the rewarding promise of a video if we were efficient in getting the other work done.  Long story short, it didn’t work.  Not only did we not get past the “if there’s time” line, the students were so unprepared for class and had such poor recall of the previous week’s lesson and activity that we weren’t able to accomplish even the first item on the agenda.  We were supposed to prepare students with information to be used on a lab the next class, and we had to bump the whole plan another class ahead.  None of them argued when I announced it  or complained about missing the movie, but I don’t know if this was the result of the agenda.  Regardless, I’ll be trying this one more in the future.

With the same class, I gave a remediation activity for them to work on in small groups.  Because many of the students tend to dally and not begin work in that class, I set an end time for them and also used verbal progress markers, noting out loud where most of the groups were in the process and giving cues to skip to the the next section, even if they weren’t finished the current one, so they could get some experience with different problem types.  This seemed to be really effective.  They all seemed to move through at a similar pace and got the gist of the skill being assessed.

Black and White Personality Type

It was challenging to find students that clearly fit into all four types in my mind, so I picked two who stood out as opposites.  I’ll call them Black and White just because they are pretty different from one another – no connotation of goodness or ethnicity intended.

Black is an extravert.  He engages in conversations quickly and easily and does not like to sit alone.  He always wants to pick groups and is overly concerned about where he gets to sit.  He’s an entertainer, always moving around, speaking loudly, and drawing attention, which he enjoys.  He talks over others frequently with whatever crosses his mind.

Black is intuitive.  He starts most projects without reading or listening to directions. Today in class we were doing a physics project involving paper folding.  He made modifications to the design first and then asked if he was allowed to do what he’d already done.

Black is also thinking.  He thrives during competitive review games, always wanting to be the fastest and best.  When in group projects he tends to take the lead.  He chides his classmates sometimes for not being on their game academically

Black is judging. He doesn’t like to re-do assignments once he thinks he’s finished.  He is hasty in making decisions, diving headlong into tasks before assessing the situation.  He often misses parts of multi-step questions because he thinks he knows what to do and doesn’t bother to read.

White is an introvert. He walks alone in the hall and doesn’t like speaking out in class.  He is content to sit and work alone but has a few friends he likes to partner with.  He communicates very clearly in writing but almost never raises a hand in large-group class settings.  He is quiet but will often approach me at the beginning and end of class to say hello and ask what the plan is for the day.

White is sensing.  He asks me every single class what we’ll be doing that day, even though it’s usually on the board behind me.  He needs to know what is going to happen and often checks to be sure he knows how his work should be done.  This also illustrates that he is feeling.  He is quiet and meek, always careful to be polite and not offend.  I haven’t seen him shut down with criticism, but I have seen the opposite – that he responds overly well to praise.
I can’t tell whether White is Judging or Perceiving, because I see some of both.  I’m going to go with judging, only because he really seems to gravitate toward the structures of assigned seating and class schedules, but I see some perceiving traits, as well – like having difficulty making decisions quickly.  This may be more of a processing speed issue, however.

Reflection on Chapter 1: A few things I don’t yet buy into.

The “P” is for procrastinator, right?

I get the point of chapter 1: all of the differently shaped pegs don’t fit into a round hole, and students learn best when they are challenged and engaged.

However, Chapter 1 brings up the notion of “Flow” but doesn’t really define it.  (Ability + Interest is not a definition, in my book).  The chapter treats “flow” with a “you’ll know it when you see it” mentality.  The clear message is that if students are learning in active process, engaged in meaningful work they will be motivated and successful, and that catering to students’ personality profiles is the way to do this.  

The author uses the example of Alex and Carl, who were unsuccessful in class until allowed to make a picture book.  While that’s great, it is not reasonable or practical for Carl and Alex to go through school making a picture book EVERY time they have something to learn. At some point they will also need to learn the skills they lack, to compensate for their inability to pay attention in class or take notes or synthesize information.  They can’t simply be excused from demonstrating a range of academic skill.

I’m sure other students in the same class labored over the creation of a picture book and would have much rather learned another way.  While there is always room for differentiation in assignments, it is seldom practical to differentiate 16 different avenues for all the possible personality types. My question is: at what point do you sacrifice Carl and Alex’s “flow” for the sake of reality: covering the expected curriculum? meeting the needs of other types of learners?  Leaving school before midnight with one’s sanity intact?  Hopefully these issues will be addressed later on.

The OTHER thing I don’t buy into is being non-judgmental about personality type.  If a person’s personality type is causing them to be unsuccessful, and if it is possible for all people to operate outside of their personality type (or even change type), then why can’t we expect them to adapt to the system they are in rather than only expecting the system to adapt to them, as the chapter seems to imply?  Maybe it’s okay that certain personality types tend to be more successful in academics.  Maybe it’s okay to honor those who demonstrate the skills to succeed, whether they are practiced skills or more innate.  The implication in the chapter is that this isn’t the case, and I don’t know about that.

 

Reflection on Chapter 2:

Journal prompts:  

 

  • My favorite assignments in school were complex math problems and creative writing.  They might seem like two opposites, but to me they were the same kind of task: both challenging and rewarding, and done independently.
  • My favorite classroom activities as a teacher are collaborative group efforts, where the students pool their skills for a common goal.  When they are successful, this is a rewarding task.  When the students are not successful, however, these projects tend to be a colossal waste of time.
  • If only more teachers would… SET THE BAR HIGH… students would succeed.  When students expect assignments and learning to be without challenge, they expect to learn very little.

 

I have no idea whether these fit my personality type.  I suppose they must.

As a teacher, this is where my personality type comes in:

Introvert:  I like my classroom quiet, with once voice going at a time during lessons, otherwise I can’t function in an instructional role.  I find collaboration tedious, and conversation sucks my energy, but I do both because they are necessary.  I definitely don’t provide enough breaks for the extroverts in my classes, because if I don’t need them I assume nobody else does either.  (I should probably do something about that.)  … It’s also because everything takes many times longer to introduce than it should when the introverts won’t stop interrupting.

Intuitive: I put high value in problem solving and innovation.  I assume students should be able to follow the directions, but also adapt when the situation calls for it.

Thinking/Feeling: I’m totally both, and I don’t really see how everybody shouldn’t be both, because they are concurrent processes rather than opposites.  I have no idea what to do with this part of the personality type, because I don’t see a dichotomy between the two.  This probably means it’s the one about which I have the most to learn.  

Perceiving (aka Procrastinating): I ALWAYS over or under-estimate how long activities might take.  It makes planning units with precision really challenging, as I’m constantly juggling whether to give planned assignments before students are fully prepared for them or delaying  them in the moment and throwing off the schedule for the next week or two.  I will never be good at this.

Also, complaining (judging) students really get on my nerves… but mostly because they lack tact and common decency, not because they have dissenting opinions.

Chapter 3:

The most difficult students for me to teach are those who won’t engage, no matter what.  They are soured on school and have no plan or expectation of success for themselves.   To demonstrate no desire for success in school is just unthinkable to me.  

I can think of a student for almost every one of the descriptions in this chapter.

A question I have is:  If Perceiving behaviors and ADD behaviors are so closely aligned, why don’t we just say a lot of perceiving kids have ADD?  The list on page 28 seems like an excuse for why non-productive tendencies of people with ADD should be considered as “normal” when in fact they are often detrimental to success.  Again, the concept of being non-judgmental when it comes to type is an issue for me here.  
A question I have is: How do they determine the dominant functions for each type?  What if I am INFP but don’t think Introverted and Feeling are more dominant than intuition or perception?