Tailor Teachers Use Personality Style and Multiple Intelligences to Help Students ThriveVaughn Bicehouse | Assistant Professor, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
Those who teach can and do. Students need the doers, they need effective educators who are not only experts in instruction, but also cultivators of student assessment and student learning. This tenet rings true for secondary education and post-secondary education alike.
College students in the 21st-century are currently older, more diverse, and juggling more financial and family obligations than the generations that preceded them (Snyder & Dillow, 2012). Accordingly, higher education is viable, dynamic, and changing to keep up with the proclivities of the clientele it is serving. A shift from the traditional teaching paradigm to a constructivist learning paradigm is forcing schools, programs and educators to become more innovative in how they serve their students (Brown, 2002; Trilling & Fadel, 2009). John Dewey observed that all genuine education comes through experience, but not all experiences educate. Thus the need for tailor-teachers.
“In addition to noticing or attending to an experience, we must reflect upon it” (Mezirow, 2000). One characteristic of a deep approach to learning is thinking about how and what one is learning. This includes watching one’s own process as a learner, questioning one’s assumptions (old and new), checking out the new knowledge as it is being created, and seeing oneself, one’s past choices, one’s future possibilities, as central as to what is being learned (Marton, Dall’Alba, & Beatty, 1993). For experience to lead to shifts of perception associated with meaningful learning and development, it is necessary to also include reflection. For Avolio & Gardner (2005) the capacity to reflect on oneself as a learner is essential to “learning as a way of being.” Indeed, self-reflection and higher order thinking has the capacity for each learner to develop insight into the creative and innovative strategies they require to meet their academic, social, and transitional needs. It is important in education to celebrate all aspects of diversity, including the many ways students learn, think, and socialize (Friend & Bursuck, 2008).
Therein lies the purpose of this writing, to encourage teachers in higher education to help their students understand their individual personality styles and multiple intelligence strengths. The old Latin adage, “By learning you will teach and by teaching you’ll learn” inspires our can-do attitude in the classroom. Ergo, it allows our personal voice to rise to the surface. College students who recognize and understand their own unique physiognomies can better communicate, learn, and socialize with those around them both on and off campus. Indeed, it enables students to connect and make sense of their world and foster communication and social interaction in a proactive way.
Without question, one’s personality and learning characteristics impact their ability to communicate and succeed. Howard Gardner (1983) the father of Multiple Intelligences, also echoes this same sentiment. He states that, all people have varied intelligences and personalities and we use them to varying degrees to “acquire knowledge, understand the world, engage in problem solving, and meet the challenges in daily life.” Consequently, this is rich with meaning for the diverse populations of students in post-secondary education being trained in a variety of educational settings. Today’s learners focus on understanding, constructing knowledge using discovery methods, and active engagement; want tailored and option rich learning; and view the teacher as expert and mentor (Barton, 2006). Therefore, today’s teachers can provide knowledge and materials, to help learners understand their personality types and intelligences to enhance their growth, learning, and success. This educational approach, albeit important, requires support for success.
Institutional administrators need to acknowledge they we are all educators and provide transformational leadership that models, values and sustains tailor-teachers throughout their higher education settings. This leadership has the capacity to inspire others using trust and a commitment to work toward the common goal of helping every student learn.
Indeed, cultivating others personal capacities and talents will help administrators accomplish or even surpass their goals and accountability initiatives (Feinberg, Ostroff, & Burke, 2005). At the very least, a faculty committed to the tailor-teacher approach to education will help accomplish initiatives around student retention and persistence. This positively impacts the institutional bottom line but also has significant impact on meeting state initiatives and goals around credential attainment—particularly important in states that have performance-based funding policies in place.
In addition, administrators can facilitate innovative and ongoing training and resources so that educators become skilled at identifying their students’ most critical educational, behavioral, social and transitional needs and strengths. This supports everyone’s capacity to serve students’ needs and provide them with a truly transformative educational experience.
Tailor-teachers weave together a path for success for all their students. These instructors have a heartfelt commitment and passion and the know how to meet the individual needs of each student. They empower change so that students in higher education receive service delivery models in supportive and caring classrooms that embroiders success.
By Vaughn Bicehouse
A Teacher is like a sewing machine
Its purpose is to repair, improve, create: all dealing with and
Accommodating for a variety of materials.
A good teacher remediates, improves skills, addresses emotional
Needs, and teaches skills to create relationships and utilize information.
The teacher does this with a wide variety of needs that the students
Bring into the college classroom.
Each learner is a different piece of material.
Each has their own needs, gifts, personalities, and intelligences.
The teaching expertise of the teacher is the thread.
All semester long the teacher works diligently sewing the different
Pieces of material together.
Start and stop, start and stop goes the machine.
At times mistakes are made and corrections must follow.
Often the teacher has to start over. Start and stop, start and stop.
When the semester is over the teacher has created something beautiful.
The teacher has sown a quilt.
The quilt shows the whole picture; but each patch shows the uniqueness of each student.
Quilts provide warmth from the storms of life.
Good teachers may never know how many lives they have touched.
As long as there is material, they keep right on sewing patches.
The day will come when they can no longer sew but they will have
Years of memories and beautiful quilts to keep them warm.
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Friend, M. & Bursuck, D. Building partnerships through collaboration: Including students with special needs: A practical guide for classroom teachers 2008 New YorkMerrill101
Gardner, H. 1983. Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences, New York, NY: Basic Books.
Marton, F., Dall’Alba, G. & Beaty, E. 1993. Conceptions of learning. International Journal of Educational Research, 19: 277–300.
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Snyder, T. D. & Dillow, S. A. (2012). Digest of Education Statistics 2011. (NCES 2012-001) Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved 1/1/2018
Trilling, B., & Fadel, C. (2009). 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.
Author Perspective: Educator