You have to go to School, You’re the Teacher! -Supporting Online Learning with Personality Dimensions Pt. 4

Part 4: The Teacher

“Education is NOT preparation for life; education is LIFE ITSELF.” ~ John Dewey

Photo by Katerina Holmes from Pexels

John Dewey was the most significant educational thinker of his era and, many would argue, of the 20th century. His profound influence extends through to the present day. As a philosopher, social reformer and educator, he changed fundamental approaches to teaching and learning.

As we discovered in the previous three blogs in this series, understanding the personality patterns of the parent and the student and how they interact can help propel a child’s educational journey forward, or conversely, if misunderstood, hold back progress. The final critical component in this triad is the teacher. Over the past pandemic year, the role of the educator has changed dramatically as school boards implement new policies around virtual online learning and teachers (and their unions) attempt to put all of the pieces of this complex puzzle together in a way that will benefit the student. Today we take a brief look at the changing role of the teacher and how personality may impact the instructional process.

As a teacher in the elementary and secondary panels, I found that I had the most instructional impact when I really knew and understood the learning needs of my students, and under what conditions they might thrive. Sure, this might seem obvious, but “knowing” them meant understanding their particular personality profile – their core needs and desires, and how they might achieve their individual goals. If I understood this concept, I could then open the door for their learning to grow exponentially.

As we have seen in my previous blogs, there are four personality dimensions, and we are each a unique blend of these. Teachers are encouraged to understand the learning style of each personality so that they can adjust and target instruction accordingly. And to add value and impact to this process, a thorough understanding of your own personality, so you can adjust your instructional methods as required. It’s all about teaching (styles) and learning (styles).

So, as a teacher, how do I know who’s who in the personality spectrum? And what are they looking for? Can you give me a brief summary to get me started, and then a great resource for follow up? Glad you asked!

The Organized Gold student values belonging, orderliness, responsibility, system productivity, efficiency, fairness, security, stability, duty, tradition and accuracy. You might want to picture them as industrious beavers.

The Authentic Blue student appreciates cooperation, teamwork, creativity, individuality, self-actualization, optimism, generosity, relationships, sensitivity, harmony and personal growth. They might be pictured as playful, friendly dolphins.

The Resourceful Orange student values action, freedom, variety, speed, high impact, agility, precision, excitement, fraternity and spontaneity. You may want to think of them as a fox – ready to turn “on a dime” to seek the next adventure.

The Inquiring Green student appreciates autonomy, privacy, independence, logic, competence, objectivity, ingenuity and future orientation. People often picture them as wise owls.

As a teacher, ask yourself – what personality am I and how does that impact my teaching style? Do my lessons serve the needs of all personalities, especially on line?

A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words, so let’s let the following graphic guide your thinking about implementing these ideas in a virtual environment.

7 Tips for Remote Teaching
(Graphic used with permission of Wendi Pillars and Larry Ferlazzo)

Part 4 ½ :  The Last Word is Yours!

I began this four-episode blog series with ideas put forward by parents, students and teachers. It is only fitting, then, that they have the last word. (Examples used by permission.)

From a Teacher Candidate:  Teaching Online

  • Virtual teaching is most definitely a challenge, but it’s something I have personally enjoyed so much! I found it to be more time-consuming in terms of preparation, especially if I wanted activities to be fun, interactive, and visually creative. However, it was very worth it when I saw students were engaged and enjoying the lesson.
  • Routines:
    • When teaching virtually, I found that one of the most important things was establishing a consistent routine. We had a schedule in place with time blocks set up for each subject and break.
  • I made sure to split up direct instruction with lots of interactive activities to get students to actively engage with the material (instead of passively listening).
    • I also made sure to include a brain break every 35-40 minutes, such as a brain teaser or short DPA. For DPA, we did Zumba, stretching, and kickboxing.
    • There was also a consolidation block in the middle of the day, where students had a work period while I met with individual students or small groups to check in and provide additional support.
    • Thanks to this routine, students knew exactly what to expect and were provided with lots of opportunities to work both independently and cooperatively. This routine also allowed us to start and end each day on a positive note.
  • Camera/Microphone:
    • Another important aspect was establishing clear expectations in terms of participation. In our class, students were required to keep their cameras on throughout the whole day. If a camera was off and the student was not responding via microphone, parents were called. Unless a student had communicated with us that they were experiencing technical difficulties (and found other ways to participate – such as via microphone or chat), the whole class knew that the expectation was to be present and participating with cameras on.
  • Student roles and responsibilities:
    • Students were given rotating classroom roles (i.e., updating the virtual agenda, checking to see if everyone is in attendance, preparing the opening exercises, etc.). These roles helped create a better sense of community and allowed students to feel like they were contributing to the classroom, even though it was online.
  • If technical difficulties occurred (i.e., a video wouldn’t play, Google Slides wasn’t opening, etc.), we always had a few back-up plans in place so that we could quickly provide a different option for students to work on while we tried to sort out the issue.
  • For students on IEPs requiring modifications, Google Classroom was great because it allowed us to create a separate folder for each of these students. We could then post modified work and activities to a specific student’s folder, without it being visible to the rest of the class.
  • Google Forms was a great tool that allowed us to receive some feedback from students regarding what they were enjoying, what they didn’t like, or what they would like to see/do in class.
  • We provided detailed feedback in the comment section of every submitted assignment or project. Individual reminders and meetings were set up for students who weren’t submitting work or not meeting expectations.
  • Personally, I feel as if I was able to get to know the students much better through virtual teaching than when I was in a classroom face-to-face. It’s probably because there were fewer distractions; there was much more direct dialogue between me and individual students. While I can’t wait for things to return to normal, it was an interesting experience to see how much I was able to learn about the students’ interests, personalities, and preferences through a virtual setting. Surprisingly, students got to know each other pretty well too, as a lot of them connected outside of school hours (we even had a few students who became best friends, even though they never met each other in person). Despite the challenges of the virtual learning world, I really do think we were able to create a positive and supportive community, for which I feel so grateful!

From a Grandparent:  Virtual Kindergarten

“I was impressed with the program the Kindergarten teachers put together. It was very detailed and had timelines attached to it. There were synchronous periods of learning which had movement breaks in them. The asynchronous learning times were adjacent to nutrition breaks, so the children usually had an hour to an hour and a half away from the organized classroom, three times a day. The teachers were very patient. The children were not always good with using the computer mouse. They had to be reminded each time to unmute and then mute their microphones. Often, they were off topic, which was listened to, and then they were gently brought back to the topic at hand. I found I had to be with Jill (name changed) continually as she needed help with the mouse at first. Then when doing asynchronous activities on the computer, I had to read the label of the activity and show her how it worked. One problem I found with the asynchronous learning centres, was that we could not hear the instructions, or the stories being read as the other children had their microphones on, so that there was absolute chaos. During the teacher-led time, some of the children were doing other things, such as jumping on the bed, playing with the dog etc. The teachers would try to draw the child back but did not force the point. We tended to drift to other activities off the computer during these asynchronous times.

I found two days in a row particularly exhausting. Jill, however loved it. It was me, who found it exhausting. I did hear a couple of parents at different times, expressing frustration with the online learning. They were obviously trying to work from home and finding they had to help their children more than expected. One was quite vocal about the skills the children needed – mouse skills, including drag and drop, plus being able to read to complete the activities. Another vented that the children were not learning anything, and it was useless. I did not agree with that, but I did agree that an adult was needed to help navigate the sites and activities.

I also noticed that on the computer, the children did not talk to each other but only to the teachers. They would talk to the group about activities or objects they were showing the class, but no back-and-forth conversation. This is what Jill was so pleased to have, when she returned to school. It has been quite an experience.”

Wayne Jones, M.Ed. is an experienced educator, having taught students from Kindergarten through secondary school as well as adult education. Wayne has been a principal in the Peel District School Board and is currently a faculty advisor for Nipissing University. Wayne draws on over 30 years educational practice and numerous life experiences to enrich his writing and workshop presentations. A proud parent of two, with four grandchildren, he enjoys spending quality time with family; biking, hiking, running, and attending live arts productions. His passion for music and athletics fuels an active, healthy lifestyle.

I Want to Watch a Different Movie Now – Supporting Online Learning with Personality Dimensions Pt. 3

Part 3: Supporting Students

Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels

“Good morning, Grade 9s. Welcome once again to online math where today, we are going to look at some exciting algebra facts! As you can see, example 1 shows the exponents…..” “Oh great! Another boring lesson from a teacher who has not really connected with me yet. Well, at least we can keep our screens off so s/he won’t see me in my pyjamas and I can text my friends when things get difficult.”

“Hey, my happy grade 1 friends. It’s time to wake up our bodies and minds with some movement. So, get up from your chairs, follow the action on the screen, and do The Body Boogie with me ( Let’s go! Let’s rock!” “This is the best part of the day! I love dancing with the music and watching the action, and then learning other things from my teacher. S/he lets us talk to each other on our devices at the end of each lesson.”

For some students, virtual online learning can be the best way to learn, and for a few, it may be better than actual physical in-class schooling. For others, though, remote learning (asynchronous or synchronous) can be fraught with challenges. In this blog, we will explore how students exhibiting different personality patterns may deal with different virtual learning scenarios.

Jill is in grade four and starts her online school every morning at 8:45 AM. She is quite pleased with the way things are going thus far. Here’s why. Jill enjoys the daily structure of the learning environment as her teacher always begins by greeting each student by name. This is followed by opening exercises which include the national anthem, the reflective quotation for the day, and an individual wellness check-in, using a unique system of emojis. The instructional day always begins with mathematics, followed by language. Once these content rich subjects are done, it’s time for “recess” which is an activity-based program of movement, dance and aerobics. Prior to lunch, the class learns a second language and music. After lunch, (which Jill has with her mother, who works from home and her brother who is in grade six in the same school), the afternoon learning follows with much of the same pedagogical structure in place. With each subject the teacher allows the students to pose questions and have some time for small group interaction (using breakout rooms). At the end of the day, Jill feels as if she has accomplished something positive and is ready to resume her learning journey the next day.

Jill’s personality profile leans heavily towards the description of an Organized Gold personality. School is an example of an institution that is inherently organized and structured, which suits the Organized Gold personality group well. Jill respects the teacher, not only because she may be well-qualified, but because she occupies a position of some authority in the education hierarchy. Whether it is online or in-class instruction, Jill strives to always be prepared and will complete assigned tasks on time and to the best of her ability. The Organized Gold student is very capable of following directions and gathering good information through attentive listening and logical problem-solving. Using a computer to learn can be an effective tool as its vast resources allow the Organized Gold student to plan, collect and synthesize data in meaningful sequences.

So, on first examination, it would seem like Jill and virtual online learning are a great match. In fact, this is largely the case. However, the Organized Gold student (and their parents and teachers) should be aware that there are some areas that can cause frustration. Jill, and others sharing her personality profile, need to feel as if they belong to an organization or group (class, family, team); they need to be a contributing member of something worthwhile. The good teacher and parent will recognize their value to the organization, often by giving them some special added responsibility. At home, Jill will benefit by having a learning space that is free of clutter and where “there is a place for everything and everything is in its place”. The Organized Gold personality also appreciates concrete rewards (as long as it is truly merited), which can be a challenge in a virtual learning context.

Navdeep is in the same class as Jill, but his educational, social and personal needs are quite different. Navdeep’s personality profile is an Authentic Blue. He is all about relationships, and virtual online learning has had some different opportunities and challenges. First of all, he really enjoys his teacher as he perceives her caring, supportive personality through her online presence and teaching style. He feels he has made a connection, even though he is not in a physical classroom teaching space. What Navdeep enjoys most about the instructional day is when the teacher places students in breakout rooms. While they do share information and answer questions, he values the interaction time with classmates as he strives to create strong bonds of friendship and shows concern for their learning journey. In addition, because he is an optimistic creative thinker, he will often suggest novel ways of solving problems and then strive to get consensus through encouraging others.

Fortunately for Navdeep, the inherent structure of the instructional day helps with time management, which can be a bit of a challenge as he may focus on people more than process. Navdeep is learning how to distinguish between content and conscience. His understanding teacher has realized that approval for recognition for his work in this area is a great personal motivator. Unlike Jill, who enjoys tangible rewards, Navdeep thrives on verbal praise and acknowledgement of his special talent of being a group catalyst.

Navdeep is not thrilled with the online “recess” concept of getting up and doing movement, dance and exercise. He finds it all too structured, and if he is going to move, he is going to do it creatively – let his mind and imagination lead his body. From time to time, he may even pull out his pastels and continue work on his private artwork. Lunch is a time to completely relax from the structure of school. Fortunately, he is part of a large family so he can interact with “real” humans (not faces on a screen), have in-depth conversations (often quite animated and expressive).

Navdeep’s parents have discovered that the best home learning environment is one in which materials for Navdeep’s many creative outlets are readily available. The room is comfortable and inviting – sufficient lighting, well placed to support academic rigour, but also some “mood” lighting when he wants to “escape to his own private world” to relax. The parents also encourage his friends to come over on a regular basis and have “social distance visits” to satisfy his need to interact with others and even meet new people.

Mei goes online every morning at 8:15 AM as she is now in high school (grade 9). All of her courses are virtual online ones (math, language, business studies and science). She has two subjects in the morning and two in the afternoon. There is a ten minute break between subjects and a forty minute lunch. It is the same schedule every day of the semester. The math and science teachers are very structured in their approach to learning. Each day is a new lesson, built upon information learned the previous day. There is always a homework assignment with each lesson (roughly thirty minutes in length) and a quiz to start the next day’s lesson to check for understanding. Students do not turn their cameras on. Occasionally, students will be assigned to breakout rooms for group problem solving, but this is rare and this is the only time students turn on their cameras. The language and business studies teachers take a different approach to virtual learning. They ask students to keep their cameras on (respecting privacy, of course) for the whole lesson. They encourage dialogue as much as possible during the lesson, using a hands up feature or the chat box. The technology can get cumbersome at times, but all participants have learned how to adapt to this reality.

Mei enjoys the approach taken by the language and business studies teachers, even though she is not particularly strong in these subjects. Mei’s personality profile is Resourceful Orange. Her core needs are freedom, variety and activity. As a result, when the teachers allow for input and discussion, she is quick to jump onboard as she thinks quickly and acts just as fast. This helps keep discussions animated and lively and she is often the centre of attraction. Her persuasive nature and clear communication style allow her to influence others and her strong negotiating skills help others connect with her. She does not hesitate to tackle challenging issues. Her teachers have realized this and they often ask her to be a group leader or spokesperson (sometimes to the chagrin of others in the group).

Even thought she is academically gifted in these subjects, math and science are much more challenging for Mei’s Resourceful Orange personality which may struggle with rigidly enforced procedures. She finds that she quickly “zones out” when repetition of content is perceived. As there is little opportunity for feedback during class and cameras are turned off, Mei often fills her class time by texting her friends, getting up and moving around, and finding other activities to keep her stimulated. On most days, she completes the daily homework, but is not overly concerned if she does not get it done that day. She may wake up a little earlier the next day and rush through it to submit prior to the daily morning quiz. A regular school routine is not in her wheelhouse. And Mei doesn’t really care that much. She likes to improvise and may be a tad impulsive so may miss some of the important details of the assignment or quiz. While those with a Resourceful Orange personality often learn by experience, this is a skill Mei is still developing; she is also going through early adolescence which is another complicating factor to be aware of.

Mei’s perceptive parents have learned that Mei acts quickly and decisively, and their communication with her is often brief and to the point. When presenting options (which is a great strategy), they allow her to decide on her own (with tidbits of guidance when appropriate) and try different strategies. Mei’s “home school” room may look messy on the surface, but Mei knows where everything is and how it may be used. In fact, she often likes to try using some things for purposes for which they might not have been designed. She is creative and inventive and likes to be rewarded for her ingenuity.

Pierre is in the same classes as Mei, but his perspective on these virtual online classes is quite different. Pierre’s personality profile is that of the Inquiring Green. His favourite classes are science and math. Not only is he strong academically in these areas, he really enjoys the online learning experience with the two teachers. As the Inquiring Green core needs are knowledge and competence, Pierre feels he can excel in these subjects. He enjoys the logic of the curriculum and its structured implementation by these teachers. Pierre enjoys science in particular as the teacher illustrates both micro and macro concepts for the class, and Pierre absolutely loves to do in-depth research in both. While he finds the rigid structure (time, content) he does realize that this helps keep him organized and focused, as he has a habit of “going down the rabbit hole” when intrigued by an idea. His science teacher recognizes this and from time to time will give him an additional “bonus, above level” project to explore, but with few timelines for completion “etched in stone”. Doing the extra project in itself, is an internal reward for Pierre. The math teacher uses similar strategies for motivating this Inquiring Green personality.

Unlike Mei, Pierre finds the lack of structure and emphasis on group interaction in language and business studies to be a hurdle to overcome. He would much prefer to work on his own, allowing himself time to drill down in topics of interest to him. He requires a good chunk of private time to process his thoughts and he rarely gets this in language and business studies. He also questions the abilities of these two teachers as they seem to allow so many ideas of the students and not contribute enough of their own professional knowledge. Pierre needs to have his teachers earn his respect if he is to be engaged and contribute more fully. He often complains for being bored.

At home, Pierre is often given the time and space to explore his interests, and his parents encourage and compliment him on his progress. They have provided a home study room which reflects his passion for science in particular. Prominently displayed are his models of molecules, space craft and satellites, and a good computer with two screens. The books he has collected are primarily scientific journals and periodicals.

Jill, Navdeep, Mei and Pierre – all demonstrate very different learning styles, according to their personality profiles. All are equally valid and valued, and parents and teachers will benefit by recognizing the strengths and challenges of each, and adjusting their parenting and teaching strategies accordingly. We all need to adopt a “not one size fits all” approach as we encourage social/emotional learning.

Wayne Jones, M.Ed. is an experienced educator, having taught students from Kindergarten through secondary school as well as adult education. Wayne has been a principal in the Peel District School Board and is currently a faculty advisor for Nipissing University. Wayne draws on over 30 years educational practice and numerous life experiences to enrich his writing and workshop presentations. A proud parent of two, with four grandchildren, he enjoys spending quality time with family; biking, hiking, running, and attending live arts productions. His passion for music and athletics fuels an active, healthy lifestyle.

That’s Not your Classroom, That’s Roblox! Supporting Online Learning with Personality Dimensions Pt. 2

Online Learning

Part 2 – Supporting Parents

So, what are parents saying about virtual online learning? Here is a sampling…

“I love having the kids home when I’m working from home because my husband never leaves his home office. But he is getting tired of having all of us around all day because I think he enjoyed a quiet home to work from home!”

“My son is thriving without all the social pressures and stress of in-person group work. His marks have gone way up. On the other hand, my daughter has multiple screens going at one time, so she can chat with her classmates while doing work. (the teacher allows/encourages this) because she finds it so isolating to not have kids around. She does better when she is in a breakout room doing a group assignment.”

“I would love for the cameras to be off. I never know if I’m visible in the background.”

“I think online only works for certain subjects and certain kids. My son is struggling hard with this medium.”

So, let’s take a look at how our four Personality Dimensions might approach the parenting role as it relates to virtual learning. We will explore some common themes such as:

  • What is the role of the parent in supporting their child?
  • How do you juggle on-line school, working from home and maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle?
  • Will you need to address physical changes in your house to support schooling at home?

Organized Gold parents are all about belonging, through duty and responsibility. Family is very important to them, so the new reality of learning from home might seem to be a bonus – more time to spend with the kids. But, because these parents have a need to be useful, they might start to interfere and want to help out a bit too much! As they are naturally organized, prepared, helpful and reliable, Organized Gold parents may want to do some micromanaging, rather than letting their child follow the directions of the teacher. So, an appropriate balance must be discovered – somewhere between the “Sage on the Stage” and the “Guide on the Side”. Some school boards have produced excellent resource guidelines for supporting distance learning at home. As a former Peel District School Board principal, I appreciate what this board has developed:

You may also wish to visit:

Finding that middle ground depends not only on the personality of the parent, but also on that of the child. By school age, most parents have discovered (often through trail and error), what works well and what to avoid. If this is the case, this is not the time to change direction and alter tactics. If anything, your child needs to see even more of that stability and steadfastness. For the Organized Gold parent, this is not a huge ask, as they are naturally inclined to maintain traditions, believe in policy and procedure and are always prepared.

As an Organized Gold parent, you can support your child’s learning by helping them manage some of the “non-academic” things, such as providing an appropriate learning space that complements their personality, helping them manage time effectively, and being an active listener to understand how they are dealing with virtual learning. Clue into their character strengths and let them know that they are appreciated and coping with a new reality.

But wait a minute! “What about my needs as an Organized Gold parent? How do I cope and find the balance between my work, my kid’s schooling, and being a parent?”

Well, first of all, and this applies to all Dimensions, you are the parent! You are the adult; you have the responsibility clearly on your shoulders. And, no denying it, life can be tough! I have always advocated “parent to your child’s personality”. If you can do this, if you truly understand what makes your child “tick” (and this is why we use Personality Dimensions®), your anxiety will be diminished greatly. You will begin to focus more on your child and less on yourself. Your child will start to thrive and you will reap the rewards of this stronger relationship which will help define your new role, resulting in a more balanced approach to issues as they emerge.

Final words for the Organized Gold parent:

  • You are service-oriented – supporting your child’s schooling is a win-win for you.
  • You respect authority and rules – school is one of society’s most structured organizations – embrace it fully.
  • You are patient, optimistic and cooperative – you will see this project through to successful completion.

The Authentic Blue parent will look at the challenges of virtual learning through a different lens. These folks are all about relationships and self actualization. Because they are people oriented and relate well to others, they may tend to become “smother mothers” or “doting dads” if allowed to dominate the learning environment. They will instinctively want to help their child create a comfortable learning space with opportunities for creative expression, which is fine if that matches the child’s approach to schooling. But some kids will learn in a more cluttered environment, requiring many “distractions” to stimulate them as they bounce from thought to thought triggered by something the teacher or a classmate says. Others may prefer a sparsely furnished space with only a few personally important items, allowing them to dig deeply into concepts and have time to process information. So, provide the essentials for learning, and discover what else the child may want to help them learn more effectively.

Authentic Blue parents can be excellent motivators and strong conflict mediators. These skills are critical as we all develop our online technology prowess, especially if you have younger children who may require some assistance. Even if you can’t solve the technology issues, you do have good intuition and imagination to provide alternative solutions and help scaffold their learning. Older children may be more frustrated by some instructional methods, content, timelines and marks, and your sensitivity to their needs and patient listening will be appreciated. Generally, the older the child, the less reliant they will be on your direct intervention. As an Authentic Blue personality, it may be challenging to learn to “back off”, as your natural inclination is to mediate and seek harmonious solutions. Your parental role, over time, is to encourage your child’s healthy growth and development – physical health and mental health.

I hear Authentic Blue parents say: “I feel guilty for not doing enough to help my child.” Realize that guilt is a trap! Turn this around by looking to your strengths of sensitivity, optimism and sincerity to re-affirm the positive role modelling you are doing for your child.

Final words for the Authentic Blue parent:

  • You thrive on being involved with people – stay connected with your child by seeking a variety of interactive activities to lessen the amount of screen time, thereby building stronger interpersonal relationships.
  • You are flexible – respect the learning style of your child and adapt your expectations accordingly.
  • All learners thrive on praise and recognition (both for effort and product) – discover different ways to compliment your child’s academic progress in the world of virtual learning.

The Resourceful Orange parent will most likely approach online learning in a much different fashion, as your core needs are freedom, activity and variety! You often live life like an exclamation mark – action-oriented as you multi-task. Having your child spend many hours a day in front of a screen, with little activity, may frustrate you. But, as the moniker states, you are resourceful and will take initiative. What might this look like? Good teachers know that lengthy periods spent in a more passive learning situation yields scant results; they know how to mix things up and introduce active responses into their lesson plans. Maybe have your child let you know when this is happening, and you could join them in the activity, thereby strengthening the parent-child relationship. Your personality trait of being easy-going and entertaining will be a real support if your child struggles with lessons that may drag on longer than their attention span permits. So, be creative. Think outside the box! You are as natural at this.

With the technological challenges of virtual learning, you may tend to become quickly frustrated (but fortunately that often doesn’t last very long) if the learning platform crashes. One solution – do something completely different with your child. Your strength of thinking quickly on your feet can be very beneficial, as you thrive in challenging situations that pop up unexpectedly. When you do so, try to involve your child in the decision-making process. You will probably have a number of great ideas, but give them the opportunity to choose and watch the buy-in increase dramatically. Good learning is a partnership: student-teacher-parent.

A word of caution, though, to the Resourceful Orange parent; there are three other personality styles and your child may be quite different from you. Of course, each one of us is a unique blend with many strengths that need to be recognized and encouraged. Understanding the specific personality traits of your child is foundational to building experiences that will amplify their learning. And this is where you can excel – you enjoy looking for and trying new things. Experiment with those that you feel with help develop your child’s character. All parents are well served if they “parent to the child’s personality”.

Final words for the Resourceful Orange parent:

  • Wear your optimism “on your sleeve” when supporting the educational journey of your child (of any age). As Helen Keller said; “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”
  • You enjoy improvising. Virtual learning will provide you with many opportunities to use that skill. You may want to keep a journal or diary of your successes.
  • While you may have many solutions to various situations, try to take enough time to evaluate the potential effectiveness of each, and then, implement.

And finally, I address those parents who identify as Inquiring Green. I deliberately have left your personality group to the end of this blog, because your core need is knowledge and competence. Hopefully, you have read through the information about the other personality dimensions and have already increased your knowledge base somewhat. Congratulations!

Remember the parent who commented; “My son is thriving without all the social pressures and stress of in-person group work.”  You may identify with that statement as you may prefer independence and private time. Online learning may be an ideal medium for you – but is it really? You may be questioning the competency of the teacher in using the technology platform, or in conveying the information to your child in a timely manner. You may be focused on the big picture of learning and the pandemic and what lies ahead. Your ability to analyze and gather data may be overwhelming as you do not see the progress you may have expected.

Fortunately, the Inquiring Green personality is well suited to meet these challenges and frustrations. You are innovative, determined and creative. You can develop multiple solutions and chose the best route forward, as you are a strategic thinker. In fact, you often enjoy problems that challenge your intellect and reasoning ability. So, use this to full advantage as a parent supporting your child who may have questions about virtual learning. That said, remember that your child’s personality may be quite different than yours. They may not want a problem solved, but rather, just some reassurance that they are doing well, or maybe just a big hug!

Finally, a question for our Inquiring Green folks:

What is your parenting personality? How do you encourage your child? Do you parent from an Inquiring Green perspective, a Resourceful Orange perspective, an Authentic Blue perspective, or an Organized Gold perspective?

As you know, we are all plaid – a truly unique blend of our personality composition. We all are inclined to act and communicate is certain ways. To truly support and encourage you child during these challenging times, especially with their online learning, “parent to your child’s personality”.

Wayne Jones, M.Ed. is an experienced educator, having taught students from Kindergarten through secondary school as well as adult education. Wayne has been a principal in the Peel District School Board and is currently a faculty advisor for Nipissing University. Wayne draws on over 30 years educational practice and numerous life experiences to enrich his writing and workshop presentations. A proud parent of two, with four grandchildren, he enjoys spending quality time with family; biking, hiking, running, and attending live arts productions. His passion for music and athletics fuels an active, healthy lifestyle.

Laptops, Tablets, Chromebooks & More! Supporting Online Learning with Personality Dimensions

Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash

I know what you’re thinking… “Another article about COVID.” *eyeroll*  Before you swipe left, just hear me out. To say that COVID has impacted every element of our lives is the understatement of the century; and we’re only 21 years in.  Even with vaccines rolling out, it’s safe to say it’s going to be a while before we return to life as we once knew it.

As a Personality Dimensions® facilitator you have a super-power; you have the ability to recognize the unique talents and abilities everyone brings to the table; and when those same people are out of esteem. Having the right tools that allow you to contribute to the wellness of your family, friends, colleagues, and clients lets you exercise your super-powers.

Not familiar with Personality Dimensions®? Don’t worry, you can read up on it here.  We all have to start somewhere.  When you’re ready for it, you can get your Personality Dimensions Certification from the comfort of your own home.

In this series, Wayne Jones, Level III Personality Dimensions® Master Trainer, and co-author of GPS: Great Parenting Skills for Kid’s Personality will explore the challenges being faced by parents, students, and teachers with online and virtual learning platforms. Because we’re all about finding solutions, Wayne will look at some ways the four Dimensions can overcome these challenges.

~Brad Whitehorn, CLSR

Part 1 – The Ying and Yang of Virtual Learning During a Pandemic

First of all, let’s make sure we are all playing off the same page in terms of what we mean by virtual learning. Essentially, there are two types: synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous virtual learning happens in real time, often using a virtual learning platform such as Google Classroom or Zoom. This is the type of learning that most school boards offer and that most students are familiar with. The instructor teaches in real time and can lecture, have group discussions and assign students to breakout rooms for small group interaction and feedback. There is an immediate back and forth connection between teacher and student(s). As in an on-site classroom, teaching events are timebound, and student reaction and concept understanding is time-limited, which may disadvantage certain groups of students. A further complicating factor may be an individual’s home location bandwidth, connection speed and computer facility.

On the other hand, in asynchronous virtual learning, the learner may progress at their own rate of speed and acquire information as it suits their own individual schedule. There may be little or no interaction among students using this learning format. Instruction can be accessed as soon as the teacher posts the material and assignments. Feedback on coursework can, at times, be slow.

These two delivery methods of virtual learning are not mutually exclusive. In some learning scenarios, instructors use a blended model delivering some content live, with real-time student input and interaction, polls, surveys and the like, (synchronous); and posting some content for further reflection at a later time (asynchronous). There is no right or wrong way to do virtual learning; it is a matter of asking what model is going to meet the needs of the majority of students (often determined by age and grade), and how adjustments can be made for those who may struggle with some of the challenges of each format.

The folks (students, parents, teachers) I contacted in my research are all struggling to some degree, with different aspects of virtual online learning. With no reference to temperament, here are some of the common concerns (many of which I will address in upcoming blog posts):

  • Course/curriculum expectations, timelines and marks
  • Length of podcasts/lectures/lessons
  • Amount of screen time vs amount of movement and exercise
  • Personal boundaries (on and off line)
  • Technology issues – connectivity/bandwidth
  • Variety of teaching styles and personal interactions

Here is what some folks are saying:

“With online learning…screen-time and time spent sitting are going through the roof.”

“Maintaining a healthy routine that separates work, leisure, exercise, social time has been difficult as these spaces have blurred together.”

“As a student you have to be even more responsible, independent and proactive with your learning.”

“We all have different learning styles and needs, so the format did not necessarily benefit all.”

“Students should set a rhythm to their days otherwise it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the course materials.”

“Asynchronous classes are a great option for older students (high school, post-secondary) as it allows the student to create their own schedules.”

“Online learning and teaching are not for everyone and due to the sudden shift into this digital ecosystem, not enough support was prepared for students in the beginning. Some teachers are finding innovative ways to deliver their lessons.”

“As a teacher, it’s really hard when you ask a question to a bunch of black squares in the google classroom and no one responds.”

“There were…instances…where students were very clearly not paying attention, or not completing their assigned work on time or at all. I think that because the students were learning from home and not in a classroom environment, they felt that they didn’t have to take the work as seriously as they would if they were in a classroom with the teacher.”

“I found it much more difficult to engage with and build relationships with the students virtually.”

Virtual on-line learning is an evolving phenomenon. What was a challenge last month may be now be solved. Educational policy that initially formed the parameters of synchronous and asynchronous learning may now be largely obsolete or significantly altered. That said, how each temperament reacts and adapts to the ongoing challenges may not change too much. In the next three blogs, we will explore how parents’, students’ and teachers’ temperaments may interface with the challenges of virtual learning and how they can use their core values and strengths to build resilience and thrive.

Next week I’ll have a look at how parents can support their kids, and themselves while virtual classrooms have become the new normal.

Wayne Jones, M.Ed. is an experienced educator, having taught students from Kindergarten through secondary school as well as adult education. Wayne has been a principal in the Peel District School Board and is currently a faculty advisor for Nipissing University. Wayne draws on over 30 years educational practice and numerous life experiences to enrich his writing and workshop presentations. A proud parent of two, with four grandchildren, he enjoys spending quality time with family; biking, hiking, running, and attending live arts productions. His passion for music and athletics fuels an active, healthy lifestyle.