Personality frameworks have been around for several decades, though personalities since the dawn of time. Developed by psychologists, thinkers, and writers, these frameworks can help us understand ourselves better. While no individual framework can define you completely, each highlights a section of our personalities that we can use to live, work, and study better. Here, we’ll look at how the Enneagram and Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies can be used by teachers to better understand their students.
Why consider personality frameworks at all?

As teachers, we’re in constant contact with dozens of students, each with their own learning style, strengths, and challenges. Considering a student’s “type” can be an effective tool to help identify their learning style, pinpoint the origin of problems, and design strategies for academic success.
The Enneagram:

The Enneagram is a nine-type framework that contemplates individuals based on a basic question: “What motivates us at our core?”
⦁ The Serious Hard Worker
⦁ The People Pleasing Mentor
⦁ The Star of the Class
⦁ The Misunderstood Creative
⦁ The Intellectual Outsider
⦁ The Questioning Friend
⦁ The Joyful Enthusiast
⦁ The Protective Challenger
⦁ The Accommodating Companion

Each type has different strengths and challenges in the classroom. For example, while a Serious Hard Worker is earnest, self-disciplined, conscientious, and attentive, they can have problems with their own high standards and desire for perfectionism. Still gives several pointers for teachers.

For example, to support Serious Hard Workers (Type 1):
⦁ Helping them learn to pace themselves
⦁ Showing them, they are valued not just for what they do, but who they are.
⦁ Showing them that anger, openness, and honesty are ok; and that they are allowed to relax, have fun, make mistakes and be spontaneous
While too complex a framework to completely summarize here, the Enneagram is well-worth your time if you’re struggling to support particular students, or wish to develop multiple approaches to classroom management.

The Four Tendencies:
⦁ Upholders – who easily respond to outer and inner expectations.
⦁ Questioners – who question all expectations.
⦁ Obligers meet outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations.
⦁ Rebels resist both outer and inner expectations.

Just as auditory, kinesthetic, and visual learners take in information differently, so do the Tendencies. You’ll have noticed certain students diligently ticking off course requirements, while others pepper you with queries, work better partnered rather than alone, or struggle to organize their school life. These could be signs of the Tendencies on show.

For example, to support Rebels (Type 4):

Rebels can be very difficult to teach due to their resistance, but when they do decide to commit, they usually shine bright. Rubin explains that Rebels have a strong sense of self, which is a characteristic teacher can use to great effect. Is your Rebel student proud of being creative? Try incorporating creative projects into class (build a website, start a class podcast, write fiction, etc). Do they consider themselves a leader? Maybe they could lead an activity or partner with a struggling student.

Every day, students with distinct personalities come together to learn in your class. If you’re interested in using personality frameworks as a tool in your teaching with practice, Click here and find out about the teaching course TESOL offered by Oscar International College.