Personality Types and Multiple Intelligences

For years I have been convinced that there is a correlation between the two concepts of personality type and multiple intelligences. They blend together so beautifully, and there are clear connections in some aspects. I began looking for research a number of years ago, and learned that a brain researcher at UCLA, Dario Nardi, Ph.D., had presented a paper on that topic at a conference, but I was unable to access that work. I kept at it, though, and this morning, through a video (posted on a LinkedIn discussion group) called, “THIS EXPLAINS IT! There’s no arguing with physical proof of your personality.” In the video, Dr. Nardi looks at the actual brain function of two volunteers and was able to see personality differences in the mapping. It was fascinating.

But seeing Nardi’s name reminded me of the quest to find out about the correlations I’ve been seeking, and I clicked on the link to his web page, which in turn had a link to his books. Voila! There is was: Multiple Intelligences and Personality Type: Tools and Strategies for Developing Human Potential. I ordered a copy as quickly as I could, and now I just have to wait for it to arrive. The timing should allow the current class at SAUniversity24 to at least learn about the main ideas — I can’t wait for that conversation!

Note: This post also appears on my blog at:
https://differentiationmbti.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/personality-types-and-multiple-intelligences

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Grant Wiggins: “Just because it’s hands-on doesn’t mean it’s minds-on”

When I saw the title of this article in my LinkedIn news feed, I immediately became defensive; after all, the tenets of multiple intelligences, which drives much of what I believe, indicates that bodily-kinesthetic learning is powerful and effective. When I saw that Wiggins had written it, my hackles went down, a little bit, and I began to read.  I soon found myself cheering because the article truly nails the essential ingredients of what makes hands-on learning powerful and effective: ensuring student understanding of what is being learned and why it matters. I was reminded of one of the best pieces of advice offered  up during grad school: “If you don’t know why you are asking your students to do/learn something, then you should not be doing it.”

Read the article here: “Just because it’s hands-on . . . “

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One School District’s Common Workshop Day

Disclaimer: This article was not endorsed by any school district in New Hampshire. The opinions and material discussed here are completely my own ideas, including any unintentional errors.

The school district I retired from, and in which I now do frequent workshops, holds a district-wide professional development day each year. Teachers from all the district schools come together for workshops on topics that vary over time. This year the keynote speaker was Bruce Wellman, a Vermont-based speaker for Solution Tree, a large corporation considered by many to be the leader in school improvement. They provide speakers on topics such as data analysis and management, professional learning communities, response to intervention, and more.

This year I was one of the presenters in a break-out session. My workshop on MBTI took up the whole morning, and after lunch we all assembled in the cafeteria to listen to the keynote about using data. I originally thought I would skip this session since the data piece seems no longer directly relevant to the workshops I conduct (plus my eyes instantly glaze over when the word “data” comes up), but a district administrator had stopped in to my morning workshop to share a discovery from the speaker’s handout about the way teams need to work together in order to successfully achieve their goals and effect true school improvement. Mr. Wellman recommended that schools locate and use effective resources and toolkits to ensure that the best possible results come from highly effective teams, and that paraprofessionals be included in this work. Paras could even be the best source of data about individual students because so much of their time is devoted to working “in the trenches” (my words, not Mr. Wellman’s).

As we learned more about dynamics helping or hurting the outcome of a team inquiry into data, it wasn’t hard to see that the strategies and recommendations made a direct correlation  to the dichotomies of MBTI.

Four pairs of archetypical preferences were discussed in the handout:

  • “Task-Relationship” is about the individuals’ need for focus on the task versus the need for inclusion and colleagueship. That would be the “Thinking-Feeling” dichotomy of decision-making in MBTI.
  • “Certainty-Ambiguity” is about the need for clear and precise progress as opposed to a level of comfort with ambiguity and seeking more information. This is the “Judging-Perceiving” dichotomy — our attitude toward the outer world and how we organize.
  • “Detail-Big Picture” is the focus on the specifics/details of a project versus the preference to see the wider view. This is the Sensing-iNtuitive preference for taking in information for information we pay attention to.
  • “Autonomy-Collaboration” is about schedules and structure, reward systems, teaching practices and even physical plant needs. Sounds like a big, important component. It is about “Extraversion-Introversion” or where we get our energy and how we like to communicate.

While I know that MBTI is important and can make a dramatic difference for educators, students, teams, and professional learning communities, sometimes I feel that administrators in schools reject these concepts as being silly, or unnecessary. Fortunately the district administrators believe in it, and so for four years I have been teaching about MBTI to all new teachers and have conducted many workshops and classes on it as well. The connection between Mr. Wellman’s recommendations and my own practice is one of validation and I want to shout out, “Look! MBTI works and this is important stuff!”

Getting back to MBTI theory, there is a Type-driven protocol for team building that incorporates all of Mr. Wellman’s bullet points. The MBTI Zig-Zag model was created in order to empower teams,  so that all important decision-making components are considered.

The speaker also stressed that groups cannot move forward unless all individuals feel safe, a tenet I have also heard from Eric Jensen in his work on brain-based learning. And unless each of these four dichotomies is addressed, many people will not feel safe, which will set up barriers that will stop progress, or will slow it way down. All constituents need to be willing to adhere to the norms of good teamwork.

Mr. Wellman also noted four huge shifts in values relative to educational teams, and these are worth noting.

  • Professional autonomy, where the teacher closes her door and does her work in isolation, is shifting toward collaborative practice, for both students and teachers, where cooperation and working together in partnerships is becoming the norm.
  • Knowledge delivery, where the teacher is the all-knowing guru, is moving toward knowledge construction, where the learner is internally motivated to find out the information and use a hands on approach to understand the material. The implication here, especially regarding the “hands on” component, is that multiple intelligences and project-based learning can be used as a best practice that will result in dramatically improved student achievement.
  • Externally mandated improvement, or “Get those scores higher or else!” is evolving into internally motivated improvement, in which the students and teachers want to improve.
  • “Quick fix” — where a school or district tries to apply metaphorical band-aids on the problems of student achievement is morphing into a model of continuous growth over time, with deeper understanding of the data and how to work with it.

When I retired from teaching in 2011, none of this shifting had begun, or at least I never saw it included in any models or recommendations at the classroom level. When Mr. Wellman illustrated what could be done with a “released test item” I was amazed at the possibilities about what could be learned from the data. Prior to 2011 we were simply asked to take those released items and administer them to our students for practice. This is remarkable progress.

These new models represent the first sensible, smart ideas I have seen yet for implementing positive change in schools. Without buy-in to these “new” team dynamics models, no progress will happen, but I left the presentation feeling hopeful and optimistic that the school district will attain these important shifts in key values, and smart planning by dynamic teams will channel positive energy and bring about positive results.

 

 

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Filling up the Calendar!

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I met with a district administrator last week to plan workshops and classes for the 2014-2015 school year. It still seems so far away, but school districts must plan ahead! I am excited and eager for these offerings. Life is good!

Here are the workshops and classes I will be facilitating:

  • MBTI for all teachers new to the district (3 sessions, 7 hours)
  • Introduction to MBTI (2 hour workshop)
  • How to Teach a Multi-Genre Writing Unit  (2 hour workshop)
  • Differentiating Instruction using Personality Type (1 credit course, 4 classes, 15 CEUs)
  • Six Traits Writing: An Overview  (2 hour workshop)
  • Six Traits: Voice and Ideas  (2 hour workshop)
  • Six Traits: Organization and Fluency  (2 hour workshop)
  • Six Traits: Word Choice and Conventions  (2 hour workshop)
  • How to Teach Reading Workshop  (2 hour workshop)
  • How to Teach Writing Workshop  (2 hour workshop)
  • Using Rubrics  (2 hour workshop)
  • Teaching Authentic Writing  (2 hour workshop)
  • The Power of Multiple Intelligences (1 credit course, 4 classes, 15 CEUs)

I will post more detailed information as the dates get closer.

Image attribution: Calendar Days Fly By on Flickr by boo_licious

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The Blame Game

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn an article published by NBC News, Why Johnny can’t write, and why employers are madmany employers are claiming that prospective employees (new college graduates) are not proficient in writing. The writer, CNBC reporter Kelly Holland, explains that experts differ on the cause of the problem, but an executive vice president of Manpower, Inc., blames technology. Another expert blames colleges, and yet a third blames the secondary and middle schools.

While I concur wholeheartedly about the problem, I think the cause is much too broad for placing blame on any single thing. Blame is easy, and every stake holder seems to blame someone else. The work force blames colleges, which in turn blame the secondary schools, who then place blame on middle schools, elementary schools, and finally kindergarten. I have also heard parents blamed for not valuing their children’s education and for not teaching responsibility.

That hierarchy does not adequately hit the target, however. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but what if there is no specific blame except that a larger, more complicated world has pushed “writing skills” off the list of what matters most, and placed it over on the side with other, more immediate needs.

Today’s larger world of global connection, social networking, and rapid fire communication would be unrecognizable (and probably terrifying) to a visitor from the world of the past. Those of us who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s can certainly understand this extreme change in the world. In the sense of how dramatically technology has changed our world, the Manpower executive is right. But think of all the other ways in which our world is now bigger and faster, how often we are pelted with images, messages, and information that may or may not be correct. It’s a changed world all the way around:  busy families who don’t even have time to eat dinner together, teachers who are spread too thin already, children who have commitments to teams, whether it’s sports or other arenas, and instant communication for all. There’s not enough time to revise or proofread even if you know how.

Young college graduates today are not excellent writers because learning how to write well takes time, patience and determination. The blame? Does it matter?

The important question is not who is to blame. The important question is what, if anything, can we do to fix it.

What do you think?

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Where is “safe”?

DangerIn an article from NPR, research from the University of Wisconsin has determined that young children who are maltreated have shown changes in brain function as adolescents. This change prevents them from being able to decide what is truly dangerous, or not. The following quote is from Ryan Herringa, one of the researchers and a psychiatrist at the University of Wisconsin:

 “These kids seem to be afraid everywhere,” he says. “It’s like they’ve lost the ability to put a contextual limit on when they’re going to be afraid and when they’re not.”

This certainly extends to schools and classrooms! How can teens learn when the brain can’t tell them they’re  safe? This information is validated in Eric Jensen’s work as well.  In his work, Teaching With the Brain in Mind (2005), Jensen says:

“Students pay attention to content only when it is ‘safe’ to do so. Many do not feel safe enough to ignore teaching classmates and bullies. To student brains, that outside influence is a potential predator like a saber-toothed tiger. Some teachers call on an unprepared learner just to embarrass the student. In this risky environment, some learners cannot focus on content processing.”

All classroom educators, at any grade level, should pay attention to this research.

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New Beginnings

Fall It’s fall in New Hampshire, mostly. Some days are still warm, and   some mornings see thick frost on the ground, so it’s hard to know from one day to the next what to expect.

As it is for all of us in education, fall is a busy time, and it feels more like a new year than does January 1, because it marks the beginning of the school calendar. When I left the classroom in 2011 I expected that to change. I was wrong; autumn is still busy and still marks the start of new things to come.

Each year, starting that very first fall,  I have presented training in differentiating instruction to all educators newly hired in a nearby school district. I see them three times, for a total of seven hours, and I show them ways to make it easier to reach all of their students using Myers-Briggs Type theory.  Feedback has been positive. Teachers find the ideas useful in their classrooms, and from those beginnings, my work has grown. This year, by the end of December, I will have presented eleven workshops, some based on MBTI/Differentiation, and some on teaching writing. It has been remarkable to see the growth of my little business and I am learning the truth of the adage, “Do what you love and success will follow.” I am ready to expand this work even further, and I’m excited about the possibilities.

I love to present. I love to teach. That passion has led to the creation of my business and this web site.

Yes, this page is new. Here, you can:

  • see what workshops I offer
  • keep up to date with new workshops
  • contact me for more information
  • read this blog, offer comments, and ask questions. Find out what I’m doing to keep current in the ever-changing field of education. I will write about professional doings — what I’m creating, what I’m reading, what I’m thinking about. I’ll probably toss in some personal information here and there as well, so that you can get to know me.

It’s good to be here; keep in touch, OK?

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