Thinking about personality, behaviour and relationship management

Yesterday’s lecture required us to reflect upon our personality, behaviour and relationship management, particularly in relation to the workplace.

Over many years my professional personality has developed in ways that have enabled me to both survive the daily challenges, and (usually) to find enjoyment/satisfaction in my work with students, colleagues and managers. I certainly remember the uncertainty of the early years, and the realisation that I had areas in need of attention if I wanted my teaching career to have longevity. I also recall, in my fourth year of teaching, when a young, new graduate ended up in the room next door as a casual teacher (for a colleague on maternity leave). Suddenly, I found myself mentoring her. My own teaching, programming and class control skills improved dramatically in my quest to be an exemplary role model for her. She definitely brought out the best in me; my diligence and unique talents began to be recognised by other staff members.

As a child, I know I was eager to please people in positions of authority, and often found myself bristling if I witnessed my contemporaries rejecting “the rules”. My early years of high school were quite challenging for me, with social aspects of the playground and classroom not as… predictable? I dislike situations where I find myself an outsider, and high school had felt very different to my primary school years (where I had completed my final year as School Captain).

I am usually gregarious, jovial and loquacious, all of which can be “too much” for some people. It can be a challenge for me to “tone it down”. As an adult in the workplace, I hope I am perceived as someone who will give their best effort at all times, and yet not be too afraid to speak my mind when encountering an injustice, or if I see a better solution to a problem. I do need to know the expected boundaries, and it is excellent when these “rules” have been agreed upon by consensus, or when there seems to have been some logic in evidence, such as the stakeholders using their knowledge and experiences in the setting up of a status quo. My “Glass Half Full” attitude usually serves me in good stead.

As an exercise for this week, we were asked to undertake two online personality tests: the DISC Test – Dominant (Red), Influential (Yellow), Steady/Supportive (Green), Compliant/Cautious (Blue) – and Accetta’s Colours Test. The concept of basic four personality groups goes back as far as 340 BC to Plato. He called the groups Choleric (Red), Phlegmatic (Yellow), Melancholy (Green) and Sanguine (Blue).

DISC Personality Testing diagram
Diagram from

The DISC Test placed me as a “C/I” for my Basic or Natural style, the set of drives that affect how I view, interpret and interact with the world, ie. the part that happens “in my head”. My Adapted or Environmental style represents the actual behaviours I have “learned to use to be most successful” in a work environment.

“You have a blend of both ‘Cautious’ and ‘Inspiring’ traits. Your ‘Cautious’ traits are probably a little stronger than your ‘Inspiring’ traits. Your style is known as a ‘cross-style’ because your primary traits come from styles ‘across’ the DISC pattern. While this combination occurs in a small percentage of people, it is still perfectly normal (although sometimes difficult to explain).

“Some words that describe you are:
• Critical thinking
• Conscientious
• Diplomatic and
• Tactful.

“You are more reserved than outgoing. You probably like to interact with people to create quality and excellence. You have the ability to be both assertive and friendly when you interact with others.”

Yes! Sounds about right! When I had some difficulty getting back my results from Marc Accetta’s “Colour Test”, I tried a different email address and must have answered the questionnaire slightly different the second time. Accetta sends a video clip explaining the results. The first reply congratulated me on being “a Blue”, and excitedly mentioned my upbeat, gregarious personality, sense of humour and a preference for following a strong leader who treats me nicely. It was delivered in much the way I would have delivered such news. After decades of cosplaying a blue Andorian from “Star Trek”, the colour designation was quite amusing. My results were quite similar for all four colours, meaning my personality is “remarkable balanced”. I take that as a compliment!

Blue mannequin

What was most interesting, though, were the points in the summary that did not sound like me, such as tending to be late for appointments. When my other email delivered the news that I was “a Green” instead (although still “remarkably balanced”), the elements I had felt were missing from my “Blue” summary were already in this “Green” one. They represent aspects of my personality I have deliberately attempted to improve over recent years, such as punctuality, being less spontaneous, more careful planning and spending, and gathering data to inform decisions.

Where to go from here? I am very pleased that my time management skills have improved over the decades, and that has become useful in a massage therapy clinic situation. I am sure the people I work alongside would appreciate me striving to be quieter, a little less gregarious and perhaps not as loquacious, especially when the nearest “walls” are thin curtain dividers.

Research projects: Progressing with Oliver and collecting evidence

At Penrith Public School, the transition to Oliver (from OASIS Library) and the students’ interface, Orbit, had to be delayed slightly due to long-service leave. It has been a very busy year: in addition to volunteering to be a Lighthouse School – demonstrating implementation and integration of Oliver through action research – we have been celebrating our school’s Sesquicentary celebrations. We have also been adapting from a complete Collaborative Planning, Programming and Teaching Program (CPPT) K-6 to the teacher-librarian providing one hour of Release-From-Face-to-Face (RFF) teaching for each class teacher.

Despite these hurdles, I am committed to continuing to involve most Stage 2 and Stage 3 students in the Guided Inquiry approach and collecting data on student learning with the tools of evidence-based practices.

Because the RFF program had to commence in Week 2 of Term 1, and it was not yet decided on just when the Oliver transition would occur, it was essential that I continue to collect quantitative and qualitative data using the SLIM tool kit survey forms (School Library Impact Measure, designed by Todd, Kuhlthau & Heinström, 2005). I highly recommend the collection of such data for all Guided Inquiry activities.

^ SLIM toolkit template (Todd, Kuhlthau & Heinström, 2005)

Surveys (as adapted for each unit from the template) are routinely filled out by students at pre-, mid- and post- intervals, even if not all data is tabulated immediately. I know that some teacher-librarians prefer to use an abbreviated survey (the so-called “Skinny” toolkit, as adapted by Lee FitzGerald and others), I do like to have all the data on hand simply because one often doesn’t know what evidence might be required/requested in the future.

For the two Guided Inquiry units started earlier this year – Stage 2: Built environments (science & technology) and Stage 3: Global connections (HSIE) – it became obvious, but too late, that the best way to integrate an introduction to Orbit would have been when locating relevant websites for research. By the time Oliver had arrived at Penrith PS, we unfortunately had already progressed past the Initiation and Selection stages of Guided Inquiry. (For the next time these units are taught, I need to ensure that all of the new and useful websites we found the hard way are represented in the new catalogue, so that students will achieve scaffolded success in their early searches).

For the purpose of today’s presentation, I am drawing my examples of a previously-taught Stage 3 unit, Endangered animals, for which a full set (pre-, mid- and post-) of survey responses is already available.

^ Question 1 responses (Click on the image to download)

^ Question 2 responses (Click on the image to download)

^ Question 3 responses (Click on the image to download)

^ Question 4 responses (Click on the image to download)

^ Question 5 responses (Click on the image to download)

Above extracts (pp 31-33) are as featured in McLEAN, Ian. ‘Research columns: Taking the plunge: Guided Inquiry, persuasion and the research river at Penrith Public School’ in Scan 30(4) Nov 2011, pp 26-35. (Stage 3 students used a weblog to showcase their learning journey in Guided Inquiry, and to share their persuasive multimedia slideshows on endangered animals with the extended school community – and beyond. This action research paper is peer reviewed.) Download the whole article as a PDF from HERE, courtesy of NSW DoE’s School Libraries & Information Literacy.

Todd, R.J., Kuhlthau, C.C. & Heinström, J.E. (2005). School Library Impact Measure: SLIM: a toolkit and handbook for tracking and assessing student learning outcomes of Guided Inquiry through the school library, Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries at Rutgers University (CISSL), New Brunswick, NJ.

* Banks PS teacher-librarian, Julie Grazotis, has a wonderful ClassMovie video clip about their Oliver journey HERE. Other links to local preliminary Lighthouse School Library System projects are HERE.

IWBs and ICT – a pre-test survey

Earlier this term, our school’s first interactive whiteboard (IWB) arrived, and the Year 4 and Year 5 students in a composite class did a “pre-test” survey in Circle Time with me.

Our survey was called: Does the use of Interactive Whiteboards assist with student engagement in their education and therefore improve students’ literacy and ICT skills?

Do you have the Internet at home?
Yes: 21
No: 1
Don’t know: 0

What does an IWB do?
• Like the Internet, plays videos, like a TV
• It helps you learn
• Lets you read a book to the whole class (eg. “Pete the sheep” simultaneous reading day) – looks bigger
• Like a plasma TV with bigger speakers
• A computer from the future, touch screen, can save work
• Like a normal computer only bigger
• Can search for stuff
• Can show stuff again, and save work
• Like the Internet only bigger, can do more things
• Like a computer, can touch the screen to change things
• Don’t know/Pass: x 11.

How is it better than an ordinary whiteboard??
• Can save stuff, use Internet, write things, use screen keyboard
• Like a computer, play games, do stories
• Don’t use Texta – use finger to write and draw
• Play games x 2
• Internet
• Already has information in it (eg. Notebook 10)
• Can save
• Can click to rub out x 2
• Like a computer and whiteboard combined
• Play music
• Can type or write with finger/IWB pen
• Look at everything on it
• Get pictures (eg. Google Images), save, rub out – not gone forever
• Can go back weeks later to revise
• Don’t know/Pass: x 6.

Why are we using an IWB to write, publish and read our Identity Rap blog posts?

Year 4 (who did the “Olympic Rap” on the library computers in 2008):
• Screen is bigger, easier to see
• Computer monitor too small
• Not bunched up, and no more arguing over chairs (ie. sitting around small monitor screen)
• Much bigger screen, can sit at tables and chairs
• Bigger screen, can write more things
• No people are stuck up behind others
• Can’t see small screen properly
• Don’t know/Pass: x 3.

Year 5 (who are doing the “Identity Rap” on the IWB in 2009):
• On small screen, you can’t see well x 2
• Easier to read writing
• Screen is much bigger
• Don’t know/Pass: x 1.

What will Year 5 have learned when they have finished the rap?
• Learn about our environment x 2
• About human body x 3
• Teamwork is really easy with an IWB
• Learn about other people’s identities
• How living things work
• Learn about where people come from (eg. Schools doing the rap with us)
• Transport – how cars move
• What the topic is, learn more about it x 2
• Learn about the solar system
• Cooperate with each other
• Know more things than the first time
• Don’t know/Pass: x 8.

What else could we do with an IWB?
• Use it as a TV, watch movies on DVD
• Make it read books
• Play games x 2
• Play music x 2
• Listen to heavy metal music x 2
• Learn rules for playing sports
• Read stories
• Look at different websites
• Draw
• Search the Internet
• Browse the Internet
• Learn about first aid
• Learn about speech writing
• Use Google Earth
• Search for things with Google
• Write stuff
• The school could buy things they need on eBay
• Don’t know/Pass: x 0.

We are going to do this survey again at the end of the Identity Rap.