Here’s How To Reach Me: Matching Instruction to Personality Types in Your Classroom

Here’s How To Reach Me: Matching Instruction to Personality Types in Your Classroom – Book Review

Rebecca L. Chism

by Judith A. Pauley, Dianne F. Bradley, and Joseph F. Pauley. Paul Brookes Publishing Co., 2001. 216 pp., $24.95 (paper). ISBN 1-55766-566-4

In the last 25 years, teachers and researchers alike have shifted away from generalized views of education toward more individualized ones. As a result, students who may have been mislabeled, misdiagnosed, or misunderstood in the past are now more apt to benefit from specialized interventions that dramatically increase their opportunities for success both in and out of the classroom.

One such intervention is the Process Communication Model (PCM). Developed by clinical psychologist Dr. Taibi Kahler and researched by the authors, this model explores how personality can affect learning styles, and how teachers can identify and modify the learning environment to best meet the needs of their students. By implementing the PCM, teachers are better able to identify a student’s primary personality type and respond appropriately to the ways that particular student interacts, communicates, behaves, and understands.

The PCM recognizes six primary personality types according to how they experience the world: reactors, workaholics, rebels, persisters, dreamers, or promoters. Each individual has one primary personality type that has its own unique characteristics; no one particular personality type is considered to be superior to another. The largest percentage of the population (30%) is considered to be reactors, or those who perceive through emotion. Because they tend to be compassionate and sensitive, they respond best to personal recognition and acknowledgement. This is followed by workaholics (25%), who rely most on information and logic. They tend to perform best in highly structured environments with clear directives. The rebel (20%) thrives in an atmosphere that is fun and action-oriented; otherwise, he or she can be easily bored. The persister (10%) is driven by his or her convictions and determination, while the dreamer (also 10%) craves solitude and reflection. Last, the promoter (5%), while charming and adaptable, can be impatient. The PCM proposes that instructors who are able to recognize and understand the needs of these personality types will have a more conducive arena for learning and success.

In order to recognize a particular personality type, the authors suggest taking note of specific linguistic cues. For example, reactors will use expressions like, “I feel,” while workaholics will say, “I think.” The authors claim it is important not only to recognize the language of the personality type, but also to actively employ it in interactions with those students. In this manner, the student believes that he or she has been heard and understood, which in turn lends itself to effective behavior management and enhanced esteem. The authors further illustrate the characteristics of each personality type through vignettes that relate stories from the perspectives of Rosie Reactor, Will Workaholic, Paul Persister, Doris Dreamer, Rita Rebel, and Peter Promoter. This allows the reader to precisely compare the characteristics of each personality type to those of their students, better enabling him or her to implement the positive interactions promoted by PCM in the classroom.

The authors emphasize that when students’ needs are being met in a positive manner, students respond in kind. Meeting these needs not only involves speaking the personality language of the individual, but also identifying and understanding the unique challenges and motivators associated with each type. The book also highlights how negative behavior is the result of a personality’s needs not being met, and identifies how each type will react in order to express frustration. As a service to the reader, a considerable amount of text is devoted to recognizing these characteristics as well as explicit strategies of intervention.

Of particular note, this guide acknowledges not only the importance of knowing the personality types within one’s classroom, but also recognizing one’s own particular personality profile. In this manner, the authors portray the relationship between teacher and student as interactive; that is, the particular personality each brings to the relationship has an impact on learning.

Of course, teachers may wonder how to address each personality within the context of a busy and time-conscious classroom environment, or how to integrate these ideas into tried and true lesson plans. The authors address several different ways teachers can easily assimilate these concepts within their existing classes, and by doing so, see negative behaviors dissipate and positive relationships flourish.

While this book may appear to be somewhat idealistic in its approach, it nevertheless acknowledges the importance of understanding the individual and the ways in which he or she interacts with others. In recent years, the topic of emotional intelligence has gained in popularity and interest over more traditional constructs. In kind, this book is less focused on cognitive learning differences or styles (e.g., multiple intelligences theory) and focuses more on recognizing the various modes of social interaction and perception and how they influence attitudes, relationships, and the overall learning experience.

In conclusion, this book provides an easy-to-read, comprehensible guide to personality types and their approaches to communication. While this guide is intended for elementary and secondary teachers, the principles associated with the PCM could also be applied to university classes, interdepartmental correspondence, and advisor/advisee dealings, among others. In essence, the Process Communication Model holds that the key to effective and positive relationships is the understanding of oneself and of others in order to best meet the needs and expectations that lie therein.

COPYRIGHT 2003 The Ohio State University, on behalf of its College of Education

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group