We all yearn to be understood. Some young people voice their unhappiness that their teacher does not understand them. Others may not say anything, but the joyful open face shows you how pleased they are when they feel that YOU have understood them.
In his book Classroom Behaviour, Bill Rogers wrote, “When I used to ask our own children, “What was maths (or French, or history) like today?”, sometimes they would talk about the subject matter, but more often they talked about the kind of teacher they had and what happened in the relational dynamics of the classroom. Our children quickly “sorted out” which teachers could manage which classes (and why); which teachers taught well (and interestingly); which were fair and considerate; and which were normally patient, had a sense of humour and, above all, cared.” (4th ed, 2015 p31)
Although we all acknowledge that people have different personalities, we tend to treat the thirty or so students in our classes as if they have identical personalities, probably loosely based on one’s own. Sometimes the response surprises and may even hurt us: chances are the student concerned has a personality with a different driver, motivation, and coping strategy.
The enneagram is a way of understanding personalities which begins with a person’s drivers – what their unspoken and often unconscious concerns are – and the fundamental strategies they have gradually developed in order to cope with these concerns.
In his book How Children Fail, John Holt observed ‘Strategy is the outgrowth of character. Children use the strategies they do because of the way they feel, the expectations they have of the universe, the way they evaluate themselves, the classroom, and the demands made on them.’
The enneagram is a valuable emotional intelligence toolkit for understanding students in the classroom. Many students find school a stressful place, and in this crucible their strategies become very apparent. The enneagram personality typology can enable one not only to spot those strategies, but also to better understand the underlying drivers and motivations which have moulded those strategies.
Use the enneagram to explore how your personality affects the way you teach, how your students’ personalities affect the ways in which they learn and interact in the classroom, and learn how to communicate in a more meaningful way with those whose personalities differ from your own……
Follow these links to see an example and an enneagram explanation
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