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How Teachers Could Manage Bad Days
Inside the Personality Fractal - part 2

On Education and Learning



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"Teachers on a Bad Day." What Makes A Teacher Boring?" What topics! What's next? This week, in our ongoing series on education and learning, we're going to look at how teachers can use the third Social Priority from Emergence Personality Theory's, Personality Fractals, along with imaginary kayaks, to maintain their balance in the classroom. And their sanity. Sound promising? You can't imagine.

The Four States of Social Priorities - The Two Kayaks Metaphor

Chapter Twenty Five

Looking Good - Being Real

Would you rather feel the need to "look good" or to "be real?" Remember, I said, "feel the need."

If you ask me, I'd say, this is a tough question. Why? Because at times, we all need to do these things; both look good and be real. And because doing the right one at the wrong time is still doing the wrong thing.

Some folks would now ask, but what the heck does this have to do with being a teacher? The answer? A whole lot. You see, most teachers, given immunity, would admit to frequently feeling compelled to "look good," even when they know it would be better for the kids to "be real."

I find this an interesting parallel to how kids get graded. What I mean is, aren't kids' grades based more on how good they look on paper (good little parrots) than on how well they have learned what they've been taught? Of course, with teachers, this need to "look good" centers mainly on how they look socially, and with kids, it centers mainly on how they look academically.

"Looking good." Not the best way to prepare kids to live life in the real world. Why not? Because, while "looking good," at times, is a necessary real world skill, there's no greater way to guarantee unhappiness than to feel the need to look good all the time. Conversely, there is no greater way to guarantee happiness than to be real as much as you can. Being yourself simply feels better, all things considered.

My point? Happy teachers teach better. And kids learn better from happy teachers. At the same time, most kids recognize, and feel intolerant of, people who need to look good far more than most adults do. In fact, most adults will tolerate inordinate amounts of phoniness, especially in school environments, and especially when their job may be on the line.

So am I saying teachers should be real all the time? No. I am not. What I am saying though is that "being real" should be the ideal to which all educators aspire. Period. Teachers; principals, the school board, and so on. Moreover, if this were to happen, then kids would see real examples of healthy adults, both on their good days and on their bad.

Of course, I wouldn't be saying this if I didn't have a practical way in which teachers could be real on a bad day and still safeguard the kids' well being. And herein lies the focus of this week's discourse. Is there a way teachers could be real on their bad days? Let's take a look.

The Four Personal States Predicted by the Fractal

"The four states of the fractal." This phrase almost sounds obscene, doesn't it? Or perhaps, like metaphysically esoteric nonsense.

Nonsense, it's not. Especially since knowing these four states can alter a teacher's whole experience of teaching. And while it won't make a poor teacher, a good teacher, it can help all teachers to love teaching more.

So what are the four states? Normal. Stressed. Inverted. And Righting. The four possible ways in which your Personality Fractal can express itself.

What do these four words means?

Start with that the first thing to focus on here is that everyone has four Social Priorities, and that you can divide these four Social Priorities into an Upper pair and a Lower pair.

What makes this division important? The idea that whichever pair is currently at the top of the stack will determine your strongest needs. Moreover, the way these needs will get voiced will be that the priority at the top of the stack will be what you focus on the most, and the priority right below this need will determine the style in which you express your top most priority.

How does this play out in real life? Say you are a Three; meaning, a "get first, give second" person. Say also that you have Freedom as your normal first priority, and Comfort as your normal second. This means that when your Personality Fractal is in its normal state, your highest Social Priority will be to "Get Freedom, Comfortably." As for what this would pragmatically look like, for a moment, set this aside. For now, focus on how I came up with these three words, the sum of which I call, the person's "Current Priority."

Let's try another. Say this time you are Two; meaning, a "giver." Say you also have Understanding as your normal first priority, and Freedom as your normal second. This would mean that when your Personality Fractal is in its normal state, your Current Priority would be to "Give Understanding, Freely."

Let do yet another. Say this time you are a Four; meaning, a "give then get" person. Say you also have Comfort as your normal first priority, and Neatness as your normal second. This would mean that when your Personality Fractal is in its normal state, your Current Priority would be to "Give Comfort, Neatly."

Are you getting this yet? Yes? No? Let's try one more. Say this time you are a One; meaning, a "get" only person. Say you also have Neatness as your normal first priority, and Understanding as your normal second. This would mean that when your Personality Fractal is in its normal state, your Current Priority would be to "Get Neatness, Understandably."

This idea, that the current, number two Social Priority is the modifier of the current number one, is an important concept to note. Especially since we need this skill in order to know how to bring ourselves out of a bad day.

Now if we take one more look at the four examples I've just used, we see they all get voiced as the current number one priority being modified by the current number two, as in, "Comfortably (2nd) Free (1st), "Freely (2nd) Understood (1st)," "Neatly (2nd) Comfortable (1st)," and "Understandably (2nd) Neat (1st)."

Now take a look at this week's diagram and specifically at the four vertical pairs of Social Priority icons. If you look at word to the left of each pair, you'll see I've written the names of each of the four possible states of a Personality Fractal; Normal, Stressed, Inverted, and Righting. You'll also see that the pattern I've just described; that the "2nd Priority Modifies the First Priority," occurs in all four states of peoples' Personality Fractal. Briefly described, these four states are:

  • the Normal State - the pair on top of the priority stack is the normal 1st priority modified by the normal 2nd. This pair is known as the "normal pair."
  • the Stressed State - the pair on top of the priority stack is the normal pair reversed, as in the normal 2nd priority modified by the normal 1st.
  • the Inverted State - the pair on top of the priority stack is the normal 4th priority modified by the normal 3rd. This pair is also known as the "inverted pair."
  • the Righting State - the pair on top of the priority stack is the inverted pair reversed.

Yes, I know. Remembering all this can seem a bit daunting at first. Don't worry. In fact, for now, don't even try to remember it all. Simply allow yourself to take in just enough to get the gist of what I'm saying, especially with regard to how the order of peoples' four priorities changes in each of these Four States; normal: 1st modified by 2nd, stressed: - 2nd modified by 1st, inverted: 4th modified by 3rd, righting: 3rd modified by 4th. More important still, know that my point for telling you these details is so you can learn to purposely choose to enter the "righting" state. Why? Because purposely choosing to "right yourself" is the way out of a bad day. Not only for teachers, but for all people in general. Now let's see what doing this looks like in real life.

Predicting Ralph's Behavior

Okay. Now let's apply what we've been discussing to our science teacher, Mr. Descartes. Good old Ralph, remember? What is he like on a bad day? And what could he do to come out of this state?

To predict what he'd be like on a bad day, you simply have to take these three steps:

  • [1] look at his inverted pair, then
  • [2] preface this with his Character Type, and then
  • [3] add pressure (the "kayak under water" pressure).

Now let's actually go through the process.

First, we need to determine Ralph's inverted pair. We do this by first looking at his normal Social Priorities, then by inverting the whole stack, and then by focusing on his top two priorities.

Since Ralph is normally a UFNC, this would make his inverted stack, a CNFU. Thus his inverted pair is the current upper two priorities when his normal stack is inverted; CN. This is his inverted pair (step 1).

Now preface this pair with his Character Type. Ralph is a two. This means, on a bad day, Ralph's Personality Fractal would be a 2, CNFU (step 2). Under pressure, of course (step 3). Moreover, the main determining factors as far as predicting how he'd behave would be these three pieces of data; 2,CN.

How would we use this data to predict his behavior? Or at least, to predict what urges he'd feel? What would he feel like inside?

To begin with, because Comfort has become his current First Priority, Ralph would be hyper vigilant regarding comfort. And because he is a Two, he'd focus these feelings on everyone around him. Thus, he'd be hyper vigilant regarding the comfort of his students. Moreover, regardless of how many times they might tell him they were comfortable, he'd still feel compelled to check yet again. "Are you sure it's not too hot in here? I can always turn down the heat."

In essence, Ralph would feel pressured to keep checking on his kids' "comfort," sort of like an old Jewish or Italian or Greek grandmother. Whoa!

Now add in his modifier, his current Second Priority; Neatness. Here, the trick is to use the inverted second priority as the predictor for how Ralph would express his inverted first priority. The style in which he'd express it, so to speak.

In Ralph's case, his inverted second priority is, "Neatness." Moreover, Neatness, as a Social Priority, is never simply a focus on being neat or organized. Rather, it is a focus on the things in life and on how orderly these "things" are. Or are not.

Thus, the Social Priority of Neatness can indeed refer to feeling urges to neatly organize things, such as to straighten chairs and books and such. However, it can also refer to feeling distracted by things which are not organized, uncut threads on pillows to tags hanging out of peoples' clothing. More important, feeling these urges need not necessarily lead to neatness. In fact, at times, these feelings so distract the person that they become very disorganized.

The key to remember here is that our Social Priorities refer to the urges we feel, and not necessarily on the behaviors we do or the beliefs we hold. Thus, an additional expression of Neatness is to feel urges regarding the cost of things. Thus, "money" is an aspect of Neatness.

Yet another way Neatness expresses itself is in feeling urges to focus on the "structure" of things. Why? Because the "structure" of things is how things are organized.

So how would Ralph behave on a bad day? He'd focus on his kid's Comfort in a structured way. Rigidly and forcefully. This means he'd feel urges to do things like watch the clock and apologize for how much time is left (Neatness) until lunch or the break (Comfort). And if the kids needed to pay for an upcoming class trip, and if the school wasn't simply paying for this, he'd feel urges to apologize for this. Which if they were, in his mind, would mean they were offering Comfort Neatly.

He'd also walk in with handouts (Neatness) that day, something he'd ordinarily not do. What would make him do it now then? Because on this day, he'd be thinking of how these handouts might make it easier (Comfort) for the kids to have well organized notes (Neatness) about his lessons that day.

In all this, Ralph's focus would be dictated by his Inverted Fractal; 2-CN. Which roughly translated means his focus would be on making great efforts to Give (Character Type Two) his students, Comfort (1st Inverted Priority), Neatly (2nd Inverted Priority).

Getting Ralph's Head Above Water

Know that the main problem here is not with what Ralph is doing but rather with the idea that Ralph is not the person his students know and love. Literally, they will not psychologically recognize him and will feel off balance and confused. Not a great state to be in if you are a kid trying to learn.

Thus, the irony in all this is that despite Ralph's good intentions, his odd behavior will effect the very opposite outcome. Literally, his kids will feel very un-comfortable. Moreover, the more he tries to make them comfortable, the less comfortable they will be.

So what could Ralph do? Simple. He need only alter his focus from "Neatly Giving Comfort," where "Comfort" is the first priority and "Neatness" is the style, to "Comfortably Giving Neatness," where "Neatness" is the first priority and "Comfort" is the style. How would this look?

The key here would be for Ralph to change his internal focus from Comfort to Neatness. Mentally and emotionally. This means, on a bad day, Ralph could focus on organizing himself, rather than on comforting the kids. How?

For one thing, by updating his lesson plans, a "comfortable neatness" he could give his department chair; possibly handing in his lesson plans early. He could also grading tests, "comfortable neatness" he could give his kids wherein he might possibly end their anxiety regarding what grade they got.

He could also scheduling parent teacher meetings, a "comfortable neatness" he could give the parents of the kids who are currently struggling. Here, he might help them to organize their efforts to, in a kind way, help their child. He might also help organize a special after school activity, something which would eventually give "comfortable neatness" to his students.

In addition to all these ways in which he might give "comfortable neatness," he should also remember to do these things slowly and deliberately. Translation. Whatever he does, he should do at a pace which is comfortable for him and for those around him.

He should also be very gentle with himself with regard to judging his progress. How? By making his goals realistic and reasonable (Neatness). And by planning only what he can reasonably do in this day (again, Neatness).

Now throw in that he should include in his efforts things which neatly effect him as well. Things like stopping at the post office to mail bills, or taking out the recycling or putting out the garbage before school.

This is also the time for Ralph to schedule the little things he's been putting off, such as calling to schedule an oil change or a hair cut or a dental exam.

In the end, any and all efforts which focus primarily on Neatness, with a slant toward making him more comfortable in his skin, will put him into the "righting" state. And when he is, very quickly, then, he'll begin to feel normal once again. Which, after all, will relieve his kids to be sure. Why? They'll have the Ralph they know and love back; good old Ralph.

Predicting Ruth's Behavior

Now let's go through the same process with Ms. Josephus. Dear Ms. Ruth. What would she be like on a bad day?

Again, to see, we'll first need to find her Inverted Pair. Then we'll need to preface this Inverted Pair with her Character Type. Then we'll need to add the "kayak under water" pressure. Thus, since her Personality Fractal is a 3,CFUN, her Inverted Pair would be NU.

On a bad day then, Ms. Josephus would be spiritually drowning in her need to make her classroom well structured and orderly. Neatness; her normal 4th priority, remember?

She'd also feel urges to style this structure in ways in which her kids clearly understood her need for structure. Understanding; her normal 3rd priority, remember?

And of course, since she's a get first person, she'd need to feel her students agreed with her rationale in all this.

What would this actually look like? She might give an unannounced quiz, which would be an understanding based structure. She might also choose this day to make critical comments about any kid whose note taking left something to be desired. Why? The kids' lack of neatness would confuse her.

She'd also pick this day to complain about how old and disheveled her classroom was. As well as how cheap the school was being in having no money for new desks. In both cases, she'd feel confusing about a lack of neatness.

In addition, she might deliver her lessons like her life depended on it. Or rather, like the lives of her kids depended on it. Especially, with regard to her being mean to them if they didn't, in a well ordered way, feed back to her what she was teaching. Or at least, in a neat and orderly way, explain why they were unable to do this.

Of course, the essence of Ruth's bad day would be her intolerance toward any kid who didn't immediately get the gist (structure) of what she was trying to teach. Ugh. Not a pretty sight. And on these days, she might even be so awful as to make some poor kid cry. Perhaps to the point of making this kid ask her parents to get her transferred out of mean Ruth's class.

In truth, this whole situation is sad. Why? Because Ruth is a good teacher. Unfortunately, under pressure, and because the kids would not recognize this "Ruth," dear Ms. Ruth becomes "Fraulein Ruth," boots, whip, and all, saying, "YOU WILL LEARN and YOU WILL LEARN NOW!!!" Which means her classroom would become the classroom from hell; in essence, a classroom filled with oppressively structured learning. A place where lists and dates and times would mean more than the kids themselves.

Of course, if Ruth did nothing to "right" her behavior, her kids would likely do what most kids do; they'd rapidly adjust to her strict demands by feeding information back to her as quickly as they could. Especially, the smartest kids, who might feel the need to rescue the rest of the class. Moreover, in a very real way, the well being of all these kids, at least on that day, would depend on their ability to prove to Ruth how well they've learned the "facts."

What is also important to see here is that, in no time at all, the kids' feelings would begin to mirror their teacher's. Thus, the pressure Ruth herself would feel on this bad day; the get understandable neatness, would soon get internalized by her kids as well. At least until Ruth could right herself. Until then, her kids would feel as if they too were in over turned kayaks. But with the added condition that in order to be allowed to right themselves, they'd have to prove themselves worthy to Fraulein Ruth.

Getting Ruth's Head Above Water

So what could Ruth do to right herself on this bad day? Simple. She could focus her needs on her Third Normal Priority; Understanding. To see why, reverse her Inverted Pain so as to create her Righting Pair. Thus, NU, would become, UN.

Said in whole words then, Ruth would change her focus from wanting to "Get Neatness, Understandably" to wanting to "Get Understanding, Neatly." In other words, she'd go from "Getting Well Learned Structure" to "Getting Structured Learning."

How would she begin this process? First, she'd focus on her normal 3rd Social Priority; Understanding. Then she'd style this priority with her normal 4th priority, Neatness.

How would this play out in the classroom? Ruth would need to alter her focus from getting the facts across to getting the meaning of these facts across. Especially the personal meaning of these facts.

As to what Ruth could actually do, for one thing, she could focus on getting her kids personally interested in history. How? By challenging them to imagine themselves in the historical scenes she was teaching. "What would you feel like if you had to wash clothes on a rock!" "What would it be like to be told who you could marry?"

She could also have the kids draw scenes from the lesson. Or share personal stories related to this lesson.

She could also do things like reveal to her kids what made her become a teacher. What made learning mean so much to her?

What Ruth should avoid, of course, are the very things Ralph would do to right himself. Thus, Ruth should probably, on this day, put off things like updating her lesson plans, grading tests, organizing her notes, and scheduling parent teacher conferences. She should also not focus on things which would give her personal life more structure, like calling for her annual checkup, scheduling the plumber to fix her leaky toilet, or sending out thank you notes for her baby shower, and so on.

Why should she put these things off? Because to do them would only bury her deeper into her bad day. In truth, she should avoid any activity which might reinforce the priority at the top of her Inverted Pair. In Ruth's case, she should avoid structured activities, such as looking at the cost of things and organizing her purse.

Conversely, Ruth should focus her efforts almost entirely on Understanding, even to the point wherein she might look to Get Understanding from a colleague, by asking how he Organizes this lesson.

She might even choose this morning to explore the part of her lesson that she's never really understood, by getting ideas from an author she's never had the time to read.

Finally, a comment on Ruth herself. To some, it might seem strange for a teacher to have Understanding so far down on her normal priority list. However, in truth, we all need to learn how to use all four priorities. And while what I'm saying here may seem to be a mere play on words, it's not.

In truth then, there is a big difference between teaching kids how technology has made our lives easier, including how understanding our world has benefited us, and teaching kids the technology itself; the facts, per se. Both involve teaching. But the first focuses on the personal meaning, the second, on the technical, factual meaning.

In essence then, while Ruth, indeed, has Understanding as her 3rd Priority, we need to experience all things in all four Social Priorities in order to truly know them. This means we need teachers with a bent toward each of the Four Social Priorities in order to comprehensively teach kids about life.

Closing Comments

"Normal pair." 'Inverted pair." "Focusing on your Third Normal Social Priority." Seems like a whole lot of facts to understand here. And in truth, there are. Meanwhile, the effort you'd make to learn these facts could, in truth, generate worlds of new possibilities for bettering our kids' classrooms. An almost unlimited set of possibilities.

Now imagine, for a moment, what this would be like if this were all out in the open. For instance, can you imagine how a teacher might benefit from have a seating chart wherein the kids' Personality Fractals were the main focus?

And can you imagine how much better it would be for the kids to know what to expect from their teacher on a bad day. And know WHY. Blamelessly why.

Now add to this what it would be like for the teachers to know each other's Personality Fractals. And their department chair's. And their principal's.

Now imagine what it would be like to know the Personality Fractals of the kid's parents before parent teacher conferences. Imagine?

In addition, can you imagine what the world would be like if Personality Fractals were common knowledge, for instance, in the work place at large? For instance, can you imagine being at a check out counter and being able to use this knowledge to better connect to the person helping you? To put it mildly, "it's got potential," as my dad used to say. A whole lot of potential. This it does.

So what do we have left to explore in this series? For one thing, I need to offer some better ways to understand the word, "fractal." what is a fractal really. And what makes it so applicable to discerning human nature? You see, understanding this word hold the key to trusting what these tests predict.

I also need to offer you some guidance as to how to administer the Social Priority tests. Along with some real world examples as to what it is like to be a test guide.

I also need to explore a bit of the 80 - 15 - 5 division of motive. Is it a good thing that we are mostly motivated by pain? And is there a benefit to altering these percentages? Can we even do this?

So that you know now, I plan on completing this series in the next five weeks. You have, after all, been reading these columns for some six months now.

Finally, know that I plan, in the very near future, to publish these columns in a hard cover book. Or at least, in a full color soft color book, if need be. More on this to come.

Until next week then. I hope you're all well,

Steven


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