Today's post is a guest post from writer Aileen Pablo.
As a teacher I have had the joy and the challenge of meeting a wide variety of students. I have also come to understand that students are not divided into various classrooms based on their personality. Instead, they are melded together with the hopes that everyone in the class can embrace diversity and get to know people that hold different characteristics than themselves.
But as any teacher is aware of, this is not always possible. You undoubtedly have felt that teaching itself becomes far more difficult when the person leading the class has to find a way to balance these varying personalities and still convey the same information to all students. While you want to encourage individualism and allow students to let their personalities shine through, you may find it difficult to know how to manage a classroom filled with varying demands of you and the student’s peers.
Here are a few ways I have learned to cope with the ever changing dynamic of varying personalities in the classroom.
• Choose to use a calm and positive tone of voice – This is not always easy when you are up to your ears in stress over the way the children are interacting with each other and with you. When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, make a conscious decision to remind yourself to continue using a calm tone of voice with a positive message. This will help to avoid escalating excited students energy levels and instead help to bring the classroom back to a sense of normalcy.
• Pause strategically – When it feels impossible to use a tone of voice to speak over the chatterbox in one corner, and the nagging student who is in constant need of your help in the other, simply pause. The students will have also felt the classroom starting to feel out of control and will notice your less than enthusiastic mood over the change. This can have a powerful impact and can help bring the center of focus back on the lesson instead of the seemingly bickering between personality types.
• Let the student’s choose – Classrooms are created without attention to various personality types or learning styles to help teach students how to best work with one another. In some situations, this can work to your advantage. Put the students in charge of deciding how the lesson plans will go. For example, allow them to choose together if they will read out loud or to themselves quietly. Once they have made the decision, you are able to use that in your favor to maintain control over the classroom and bring the personalities of students that would have otherwise been divided, back together.
• Avoid struggling for power over the students – Some students love a good debate with their teacher, and they thrive on the opportunity to prove a teacher wrong in front of the classroom. Other students may appreciate this power struggle or they may be annoyed with it, but chances are even if another student comes to your rescue, it will only cause the debate to worsen and you to feel out of control of the classroom. Instead, it is a good idea to avoid any power struggles with students and not get defensive. This will provide an opportunity for debate that you should not engage in, and instead will give the power to the student. While it is important to allow students to speak their mind and be individuals, this power struggle can make it more difficult than necessary to conduct the class.
If you are like me, you have experienced the entire lot of personality types. The way you react to the various personality types will directly impact how the student reacts which means you are still in control over your class and gives you a better way to handle individuality in the classroom.
Aileen Pablo is part of the team behind Open Learning Australia, one of Australia’s leading providers of Distance education. When not working, Aileen blogs about education and career.She is often invited as a speaker in Personality Development Seminars in the Philippines.If you have a blog and would like free content. You can find her on Google+.