Extended DISC in Teaching
Whether you are working with children or adults, Extended DISC can be a powerful addition to the educator’s toolbox.
Most of us will remember the teachers who had a lasting, positive effect on our lives. Most teachers adapt their teaching style to suit the student usually defined as different learning styles as auditory, visual and kinesthetic. Together with this, most successful teachers will have evolved strategies to adapt to the personality styles of their students. Extended DISC can provide real additional insights with a structured and systematic approach to understanding students, or even parent’s different styles and help the educator communicate even more effectively with the unique individual in front of you.
Your way is “your way”, not theirs
It is easy to assume that “people want to be taught as I was taught”. This applies to both teachers and often also to the assumptions parents make about what is “good education”. The recommended best course of action is to “treat each individual as they need to be treated”
The following guidelines can increase your effectiveness and help make a difference in people’s lives.
Step 1: Understand your own style
Knowing your own style and preferences is a foundational step in teaching others and increases your options to be flexible while ensuring that you will not impose your own style on students and team members.
D Instructors may cover material too fast and fail to provide information and examples from multiple perspectives. Their bottom line approach may not provide context for the new knowledge and they may not be less sensitive to the emotional needs of the students.
I Instructors may create a fun learning environment, but not provide enough structure for those students who need it. They may not teach with the step by step logical order that both C and S students require.
C instructors may not provide enough flexibility for free-thinking students. They may also restrict a fun learning environment that I’s thrive in.
S Instructors may be too accommodating and not push students beyond self-imposed limitations. The S teacher may not challenge the D’s enough or go fast enough for the I’s.
Step 2: Recognise the styles of the students
DISC styles in children seem to emerge over an extended period of time from early on in life through to late teens. All too often parents will say things like, I want to be fair to my children and treat them all the same way, when actually what is fair is to recognise and treat each child as an individual and in the way that he or she needs to be treated.
There are some observable tendencies when identifying a child’s style:
- First to speak up and will have their say, then dives into action
- Can be bossy with other children
- May react defiantly when they hear the word “No”
- May insist on their own rules, such as determining their own bedtime
- Don’t accept that others have authority over them, including teachers and may deliberately do the opposite of what is asked
- Stubbornly demand what they want
- Naturally be the leader, controlling situations and other people, large or small
- Throw temper tantrums when they lose or don’t get their own way
- Need to win at everything, from games to the best toys, to staying up the latest
- Are always on the move, doing building, rebuilding, testing and breaking boundaries and rules
- Happy to get dirty and messy
- Add comedy and jokes to everyday life
- Have a variable attention span and can be easily distracted
- Need constant stimulation
- Have many friends and groups of friends, cannot be alone and are energised by others.
- Seemingly capable of talking almost continuously, without pause for breath, thinking is done by talking
- Make up their own games or change the rules of existing games just to experience something new
- Take big risks just to see what will happen (things may not always turn out well, but they will still have a good story to tell)
- Are happy when they are the centre of attention, whether it’s in the classroom, at the dinner table or on the stage
- Can sell anything to anyone and charm their way out of any situation
- Easily exaggerate and apply selective use of facts to suit their needs
- Take their time and slower to speak up, speak more softly
- Eat, drink and move slowly and methodically
- Go to bed without confrontation
- Get pleasure from helping others
- Play by the rules of others
- Bond strongly and for life with a small group of close friends
- Are slower to adapt to new activities and avoid risk taking
- Happy to let other children take the lead
- Share and play well with others
- Can seem overly shy or modest
- Don’t like getting dirty, messy or sticky
- Have a gift for taking things apart to understand how they work and may even be able to put them back together again
- May endlessly ask “why?” Or “what if?” questions
- Are comfortable when following established routines that create order and consistency in their schedule and will create their own routines when not provided with any
- May prefer mental challenges to physical games and can focus on one activity for long stretches of time
- Get very upset when the rules are broken
- May be perfectly happy being alone and working alone, may find social interactions and situations challenging to manage and a drain on energy.
- Have a smaller range of personal space use and physical expression than the other styles
- Worry about and analyze things that might go wrong
- Don’t respond well or know how to respond to playful banter
- Insist on a special place for everything
Step 3: Adapt the instruction style to the student
Lessons can be taught so that no matter what your style as the educator or coach, the information is conveyed with an understanding of the styles of the learners. Factors to consider include pacing and repetition, opportunities for independent and group work, the quantity and sequence of information, the types of methods used to convey that information. By considering DISC style, you can easily begin to give all your students a chance to participate, learn and succeed.
Explain the reasons for the lesson upfront and link the reason to the world around them or a specific situation. Provide a snapshot of learning points right at the beginning.
Use a faster pace, challenge them to solve problems and be ready to be challenged back. Engage them in leading activities. When giving instructions, direct and to the point is best. To influence, give choices where possible and consider options for creating an element of choice around what is non-negotiable.
To motivate: Give immediate feedback, focus on one subject and just the essentials, encourage and maintain a result-orientation, allow action, and selectively give power or authority.
Ensure the learning process involves fun and interactivity with others. Use a variety of teaching methods and allow for spontaneous, in the moment interaction and active engagement. To influence use positive encouragement and appreciation and do not assume that what they say is the answer.
To motivate: Be responsive and listen, give assurance, be optimistic, be with them face to face use motion and an actual pat on the back can be highly motivational, give permission to remove restrictions, respond to their enthusiasm in the same way, avoid put downs and negative reactions.
Relate the topic back to their personal life and experiences; provide an emotional meaning to the learning. Be sensitive to their reserved nature and avoid putting on the spot – consider asking for small group discussion and then asking for a group response. Consider writing your instructions down and be ready to answer questions on the process.
To motivate: Appeal to values, especially in relation to others or family, give organized and structured feedback, give supporting material, let him/her take the time they need to finish his/her work, maintain continuity and avoid restlessness, jumping from subject to subject, avoid sudden change and deliver on commitments.
Provide an agenda, logical structure and give details with a logical sequence that is apparent. As with S, consider writing down the process and providing any ‘rule’ clarity. Back up assertions with facts, data and references and be prepared to answer any detailed and specific questions. Respect their physical space.
To motivate: Give detailed information and be open to questions, help with a clear process and be alert to how concerned they may get when other children are seen to break the ‘rules’. Give time to think and prepare, do not expect spontaneous discussion, instead give advance notice. e,g, “take all the time you need to time to think about this and I will ask you when you are ready”. Share all the information and do not pressure or use power, instead make powerful appeals to logic.
Overall remember Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety: In any system the control with the greatest degree of variability controls the system, the control with the least variability is controlled.
In other words: develop more flexibilty in your communication to develop more positive and empowering influence with others.
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Adapted and expanded from Taking Flight, by Daniel Silvert