soul strikers

powerful moments in education

What does it mean to SEE a student? Part 1?

Across the room, gazes are barely upon me.  Shifting glances make their way to my eyes, attempting to send the message that yes, I am trying to hear you.  This is the unannounced litmus test appearing, telling the teacher to be quiet and let them get to the experience already.

According to Bernice McCarthy’s 4MAT model, generally, 4 types of learners exist (with subcategories, of course). And I would say that most “personality” or “learning profiles” in my experience can be viewed in overlay, that so many parallels between them say so much about humankind as learners.  We have our WHY? our WHAT? our HOW? and our IF? learners, Quadrants 1-4, respectively. Perceptive, talented teachers will plan for these learners, often without even knowing, because it makes sense.

What quadrant are you? What role does that play in your communicating and teaching? What can it tell you about others? Well, I am Quadrant 1- and then strongly Quadrant 3.  I need a reason (WHY) to learn something- a REAL reason, and then all I want to do is test out HOW to do it until I cannot test anymore…I research what I need to know to continue, or finish (but not always…actually rarely…) and then I move on to the next WHY?  I enjoy understanding this about myself, because it causes me to realize those who will not hear or absorb any factual teaching until they personally create a need or connection, followed by some “tinker time” before they are ready to receive instruction.

Conversely, others accept Quadrant 1, WHY? as, well, just because! Because you here, and you are a student and that is what you do!  While this is all well and fabulous, knowing to question why is awfully important.  Yes, one should be compliant when dealing with teachers, but asking why could be the most important part of the learning. Regardless, many of these head nodding, eye contact making learners are dying for Quadrant 2, dying for me to dish out information, or at least dish out an organized chart, or graph, or resource where they might consume it on their own.

And then, of course, we have our Quadrant 4 learners who, before you EVEN finish the directions, ask, “Are we going to share? Can we act this out? Is ——‘s class going to come to see? Do we get to make a poster?” (I struggle with the existence of posters :) )

Understanding oneself is the start to understanding those with whom we communicate, collaborate, instruct. We either need to to recognize our style as foreign or familiar to our partnerships, at any age, 5, 10, 15, 95…

Foreign or familiar.

And if it is foreign, then what?


4 comments on “What does it mean to SEE a student? Part 1?

  1. Jan Simson
    January 26, 2012

    That is very interesting. I’ve never looked at it like that. I ask a lot of questions that normally start with the word “how?”, because I am always keenly interested in practical implementations of theoretical ideas. Thanks for sharing this! I always learn something new when I read this blog. Cheers.


    • soul strikers
      January 26, 2012

      Thank you, Jan, for your perspective and reflections. I absolutely see you as a “how” person, through cyberspace. Keep on learning. :)


  2. haubach
    January 26, 2012

    Interesting, Jac, that you begin with yourself as a learner. I understood these learning types, but never did a self-analysis. That is until one day as I was working with a student in my usual hand over hand method (I remember a wood plane was involved) and the student demanded that I let him “experience” it for himself. First, I was hurt. This was the way my dad taught me. This is how I felt comfortable teaching. We will eventually get to the other quadrants.And, what if he did it wrong and ruined his project…?

    If something did go wrong I knew WHY and could make a correction. But that means the student, even if he wondered WHY, never got to ask or get the information needed.
    “WHY is the plane cutting so little/too much? WHY is the edge on an angle when I want it flat? I of course, had the answers and solutions but was not yet ready to “share,” I suppose.

    It took a while to make this correction in my approach and I still struggle a bit today as I now instruct my peers (read old people) to use tools and machines in our wood shop. With a more balanced, 4-quadrant approach, the woman who wants to know why we are using cedar for a bluebird box and and the fellow that will make a second base piece because his first experience did not get the desired results get what they needed on the way to a successful project.

    As a teacher, I feel better about the outcomes achieved. And, my experiences with my students helps to shape the next time I give the lesson helps to improve my approach to the 3 weaker quadrants in my teaching method.



    • soul strikers
      January 26, 2012

      Thank you!
      I find that knowing oneself is the beginning of being perceptive. Being perceptive means understanding the connections of all around us, and why not start with ourselves? Something we can really evaluate!

      4MAT as a theory is something, the main thing, I was taught in college that made sense to me and I have carried with me since then. It has been almost 13 years since it first appeared in front of me and every time I plan a lesson or unit I am drawn to the process- I know it will “hit” everyone.

      What you don’t see in the above images are the subcategories. But knowing you, I would say you are most certainly an example of Q3 and Q4. Each quadrant is broken into right brain/left brain tendencies- in other words, following the cycle is actually following eighths. Quadrant 4 part 1 is “left brained” and is called refine, and part 2 is “right brained”, called perform. Does that sound like you? :)


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This entry was posted on January 25, 2012 by in Curriculum, Instruction & Coaching, education.

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