‘The more you know them, the more you grow them’
I took an entire course on ‘Child Psychology’ while pursuing the Bachelor of Education degree in 1998. During the course, I kept wondering why they teach all this in the Teacher Training colleges? As for me, it was just another paper to pass and get the B.Ed. Degree!
“Was I aware of the practical implications of ‘Child Psychology’ or I just mugged-up theories of learned scholars to pass the course?’
With time, I got a deeper understanding of the pedagogy through the PD courses and workshops. Consequently, I have tried many innovative pedagogical approaches all these years and left no stone unturned to keep my lessons interactive and students engaged.
HOWEVER, SOMETHING WAS STILL NOT GOING RIGHT!
Although I was able to connect and interact with most of the students, some voices remained unheard. They haven’t shown any interest in the lessons and hardly gave their feedback. Consequently, these students were not able to perform well in formative and summative assessment tasks.
Somehow, I couldn’t find the missing link until one fine day, an outstanding student named Basant came to me and said, “Ms., have you ever wondered about different kinds of personalities? And while having that productive discussion, she added, “Why don’t teachers try identifying students’ personalities and then plan up teaching activities accordingly?”
I was astonished!
“What we qualified and experienced educators couldn’t observe, one of our students did!”
Yes, indeed! We, teachers, are trained to identify the types of learners in the class, but it is mainly done based on their ABILITIES; high achievers, low achievers, etc.
DID WE STUDY CHILD PSYCHOLOGY TO LABEL TYPES OF ACHIEVERS IN OUR CLASSROOMS OR TO IDENTIFY THE TYPES OF LEARNERS?
How about identifying the NEEDS and INTERESTS of students we teach? It is indeed a challenging task to figure out all the student’s personalities but once achieved; it can have a tremendous positive impact on students learning and achievement. Also, we can do a great deal of differentiation in designing appropriate assessment tasks if we know the diverse learning needs of our learners.
I strongly recommend teachers start this activity at the beginning of each school year, and they can always have certain modifications later.
How do we figure out student personalities?
- By Conducting Online Personality tests
There are various free online portals and websites on which students can find their personality types. They have a set of questions to be answered. Ask your students to answer the questions honestly with a calm state of mind. Use these results to create a grid to classify your students into different personality types. You can take the help of some active and observant students in this process of identifying their personalities.
2. Collecting feedback from students
At the beginning of a school year, I usually ask students to list the expectations they have from me as a teacher. I am always keen to find out “How they want their learning to be?” This helps me in planning, preparing, and delivering the classroom activities. At the same time, it reveals the needs and interests of my students. Involve students in decision-making by providing feedback related to the curricular and extra-curricular activities. Throughout the year, if we try to hear students’ voices through regular feedback, it shall help teachers shape their instruction and bring an incredible impact on their conceptual learning.
3. Engaging students in productive discussions
Nothing enthralls me more than finding opportunities inside and outside the classroom to have open dialogues with these bright young minds and gain immense learning experiences. Students love to have discussions on topics like music, sports, movies. Also, they want to be heard with empathy for the challenges faced by them. Such interactions help them to vent out their negative emotions and deal effectively with anxiety and depression. From a teacher’s point of view, such discussions pave the path to understand students’ attitudes, behavior, and perspectives. You can also take the help of the student counselor, a trained psychologist who is very well aware of student needs and interests.
4. Activities that foster self-awareness and purpose
The best way to connect with your students is to provide them the opportunities to ‘EXPRESS THEMSELVES.’ They want their emotions and feelings to have listened with empathy and not JUST heard! Teachers can incorporate some simple check-in activities to understand students’ emotions, needs, and interests and, most importantly, make positive connections with students. Teenage students find these activities a great way to vent their negative energy, increase self-awareness, and become reflective about personal purpose and values. Consequently, you can seize this opportunity to understand them better and shape your teaching accordingly as a teacher.
I have listed a few activities that help to build a sense of self-awareness:
What shall be our next step?
By recognizing and understanding learning styles, you can use techniques better suited to your students. This improves the speed and quality of your teaching. Once you have identified the Student’s personality, the next step is to utilize this data to plan and deliver effective lessons that cater to the needs of all personality types. It is a tough task to design and deliver lessons taking care of learners’ diverse needs. But, it becomes better through practice, and the outcomes are just fantastic.
From Theory to practice
These are some practical ideas and activities you can use in your lesson to engage all types of learners:
Auditory learners: They like to listen to music or even sing while they are working. They understand better with an audio prompt. As a result, they perform better in language listening tasks.
- Use audio music clips when they are on a challenging task to promote their focus and attention.
- Add your ‘Voice Recordings’ to the lesson presentations.
- Provide them opportunities to be class readers for reading definitions, questions, and other information for the class.
- Engage them in Peer Teaching activities.
Visual/spatial learners: Such children learn better when anything is taught visually rather than verbally. They enjoy watching educational videos and images.
- Teach them by drawing diagrams, playing animations, and stimulations.
- They shall be highly interested when allowed to watch demonstrations and perform hands-on lab work. Similarly, they would understand better when experiments are taught as dry-lab simulations.
- Engage them in making graphic organizers, mind-maps, flow charts and doodling.
- Try to use color codes to help them process and analyze information quickly.
Logical/ mathematical learners: They learn better when the concept is taught in an interconnected and organized way. They like to find reasoning and analytical thinking and all the subjects. They show a great interest in subjects like mathematics, sciences, and computer sciences.
- Try to integrate mathematical concepts into different subjects.
- Provide logic in explaining new ideas to the class.
- They understand better when the teacher delivers the course in a very systematic manner.
- Please encourage them to help peers to understand assessment criteria, rubrics, checklists, and marking schemes.
- Incorporate the use of graphs and flow charts for such children.
Kinesthetic learners: Such kids are highly energetic, spontaneous and look for opportunities to move around the classroom. They don’t like to be restricted to a place for long and show a lack of interest in traditional teaching environments. They love hands-on activities that involve using their body or hands.
- Keep them engaged with peer-teaching and group mentoring tasks.
- They love to solve problems on the board and assist the teacher with her tasks during the class.
- Provide opportunities for effective group-work activities such as role-plays, performing experiments, making models and, question stations (Carousel strategy)
- Channelize their energy in performing group projects, managing science fairs, and voluntary community service.
Verbal learners: They are the typical ‘Book-worms’ and children who like to spend their leisure time reading and writing. They are fond of being surrounded by books, reading articles, writing blogs, and they have an excellent vocabulary and grammar. Some verbal learners enjoy ‘sharing ideas by talking’ while others do the same by ‘writing.’
- They like to understand any concept by ‘note-taking’ and organize their written study material very well.
- Involve them in regular classroom discussions, writing feedback, posting their views and perspectives on the class portal (Could be a digital platform such as padlet and twitter)
- Design a variety of classroom and out of the classroom activities to cater to the needs of all sorts of verbal learners, such as essay writing, research, lab-reports, debates and journals.
- They can be great ‘language resources’ and ‘translators’ for peers who struggle with language. They can help peers to memorize subject information by making mnemonics.
- Provide them opportunities to be a class writer for writing objectives, keywords, definitions and, questions on the class board.
Social-Interpersonal learners: Such students are born leaders as they have excellent social and communication skills. They are good public speakers and like to share their learning experiences with the rest of the class.
- Provide opportunities for them to collaborate and be ‘learning facilitators’ to their peers.
- Channelize their energy in-class activities (like role-plays and drama), classroom discussions, peer teaching, and lesson feedback.
- Develop the spirit of class cooperation by allowing them to help the low achievers in understanding curriculum and assessments.
- Involve them in leadership and decision-making roles of the student council, class representative, head boy/girl, etc.
- The teacher needs to foster a sense of compassion in them by giving the ‘quiet ones’ chance to speak.
Solitary-Intrapersonal learners: These kids are the ‘Quiet ones’ who are often called ‘Introverts.’ They like to do any task alone and are not interested in being in any active collaboration. They have excellent creative skills but don’t prefer to share their ideas in front of the class.
- Plan lessons with activities such as note-taking, drawing diagrams, and writing essays.
- Stimulate their creativity and inquiry skills by projects that involve programming, coding, and creating applications.
- Involve them to share their ideas on platforms, such as school magazines and newsletters.
- Please encourage them to communicate regularly and express views and perspectives by providing written feedback and reflections (like KWL charts and exit tickets)
A good teacher encourages every learner to pursue their own interests and develop their strengths.
TRY YOUR BEST TO INCORPORATE ‘MULTIPLE TEACHING STRATEGIES INTO YOUR LESSON PLAN. PLANNING A LESSON THAT FULFILLS THE DIVERSE NEEDS OF ALL LEARNERS IS SURELY A CHALLENGE BUT NOT AN IMPOSSIBLE TASK.
A GOOD ASSESSMENT SHOULD INCLUDE A RANGE OF ASSESSMENT TASKS AND CONSIDER WIDER STUDENT COMPETENCIES AND DIVERSE NEEDS.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
(Albert Einstein is often credited with this wonderful quote, but it may actually have come from a variety of different sources)