The Action Tutoring staff team recently completed a workshop that raised our awareness of different working and personality styles, using the system known as ‘colour profiles’ (http://www.colour-profiling.com/how-it-works-1/). Simplified, this system places people in one of four main personalities which roughly summarises how we see the world, how we like to operate and how we tend to communicate with colleagues. Me, for instance, I am a red, preferring direct and decisive communication without much of a focus on the detail of implementation. Here’s an image to help illustrate some of the main characteristics of the colours:
Reference: Insights Discovery Personal Development Profiles – colour energies
Amongst many personal revelations (such as: ‘oh, that’s why I like a challenge!’), I was struck by one thing Jo Rice, CEO of fellow charity, Resurgo (http://www.resurgo.org.uk/ ), included as she led our session: ‘Too many youth charities focus on the ‘yellow’ personality traits to engage young people, just like adults, young people are much more complicated!’. We often discuss engagement as an essential element of how we can keep our pupils motivated. Too many times I have looked upon engagement as a pseudonym for enthusiasm and dynamism. For some pupils, this is the right way to approach study to a subject they don’t like – enthusiasm is often infectious and no better way to get pupils to do maths in their free time than being fun and creative, right? Well, not necessarily, as this approach will only engage a proportion of our pupils. What about the pupils who are target-driven reds who want to know how our tutors are going to get them the grade they need? Or what about the greens who want to know about their tutor’s background and why they choose to give their time for free? Or what about our blues who need to know their journey through our workbooks to feel secure and believe a tutor is going to help them just as much as their normal teacher? Just like us, our pupils are complex humans and individuals, with more than a simple desire for everything they do to be fun and energetic. I’m not saying that we should stop trying to engage young people using these approaches, but we should think a little harder and wider – if they aren’t engaging with us, what could we do differently? How would a blue like to be inspired? How would a green respond to this competitive approach? How would a red work in that pupil-tutor pairing? I have many more questions that myself and the team are reflecting upon as we start into another exciting year helping more disadvantaged young people succeed in school. In time, I hope we can use our appreciation of how we all differ to better serve the young people we support.