Pupil Services: True Colors Testing
Glen Dawursk, Jr.
April 8, 2007
The job description for the assistant principal for most schools today is to be the primary disciplinarian for the school. Unfortunately for most administrators, discipline does not rank as the most favorite of responsibilities. It is draining, at times emotional, and most often tedious as the same students seem to file through the office on a reoccurring basis. For most administrators, it is simply a rough, uncomfortable stepping stone on the path toward being a “real principal.” This was my opinion and role for most of the past year. As the assistant principal or Dean of Students of a grade 6 through 12, 300+ Milwaukee Public charter school, I have found that my dealing with students has included all of those feelings. It is not easy to be the administrator of absolute truth and the enforcer of rules and consequences – but never-the-less, I have found a certain amount of contentment in my position. Why? Simply stated, my desire changed. At first, I was frustrated with students shuffling through my office over and over again. I felt like a police officer ticketing students for their multiple offenses. However after several weeks, I realized that my role was to provide “assistance” and enhance a student’s education in the same capacity that other pupil services provide assistance and enhancement to a student. As the disciplinarian, my service is not simply to offer “consequence” for rules broken, but rather to encourage and mentor children toward positive behavioral modification.
As any teacher or parent knows, the most effective means to modify behavior or to make a dramatic impact upon a child is to make a connection with them first. This connection might be through a common interest which develops into a mentorship relationship; but most often, it is through an understanding and honest appreciation of the student’s personality and a willingness to speak to them within their personality traits. We have seen the effectiveness of testing students for their learning modality and then teaching within that modality. In the same way, knowing the personality and temperament traits of a student can also help a teacher or administrator deal more effectively with a student. A method I have used effectively over the past few years in my classroom is a personality/temperament testing called “True Colors.” According to a recent research study on a variation of True Colors, it was found to show “considerable merit in precisely assessing and defining psychological types and temperament theory.” (Whichard) It has also been linked to other personality testings (MBTI and DISC) and has been shown to be as effective with a minimal amount of testing.
True Colors is a personality/temperament test that I modified for my classroom and recently started using with the students whom I now discipline. I first learned about this assessment tool at a teacher’s conference about 10 years ago and I have been intrigued with it ever since. Centuries ago Hippocrates identified that people were at stages within four different personalities. When we consider that our students are at different stages within different personalities, it is no wonder that there are regular “roadblocks” when educating and disciplining our students. “These four different types are different in fundamental ways. They want different things. They have different motives, needs, and drives. They analyze, conceptualize, understand, and learn differently. These differences create natural barriers to interpersonal communication, making understanding between people of different types difficult.” (Keirsey) If we could better understand each others’ unique personality, we could better mentor our students toward positive behavioral changes. In addition, there is significant research which also shows a connection that these personality patterns are also keys to an individual’s self-esteem.
The True Colors testing was initially developed by Don Lowry. His purpose was to simplify the personality/temperament theory work of Dr. David Keirsey, author of Please Understand Me and the family team of Katherine and Isabel Briggs-Myers, originators of the MBTI - Myers-Briggs Type Indicator testing. Historically we find that the Briggs-Myers test was based upon the 1921 work of Carl Jung in his book Psychological Type. Jung was one of the first modern psychologist to explain the personalities Hippocrates had identified. In his book, Jung explained and compared the significant characteristics of these individual personalities. Because of this connection, True Colors and Briggs-Myers are often referred to as Jungian Type Theory.
True Colors has been modified and tweaked for many different professions. I have created my own variation of the testing based upon subsequent workshops I attended. Unfortunately, I do not have the names of workshop leaders or presenters with whom I can credit my adaptations. I have presented this assessment variation at a number of youth conferences and workshops.
basic concept of True Colors is the identification of common personality traits
and behaviors and the application of how to use them in a particular
setting. Generally I give a copy of four
different personality descriptions first.
These descriptions are a simplified description for the ones Hippocrates
may have described centuries earlier. While
Myers-Briggs identified and characterized 16 different personalities, Lowry
divided the personalities into just four personalities which he labeled as colors:
Once a person has chosen whose personality they feel they most represent, then I test them with a simple word category test. They simply evaluate the list of words in each row, and then put them in the order of “Most like me to Least” using numbers 4 for most, 3 for next closest, 2 for next and 1 for the list least. They continue through each row numbering them accordingly. When they have finished all the rows, they simply add the columns at the bottom. I then tell them what category goes with which color or personality. I have included a copy of the actual worksheet I adapted for my use. I also have attached a copy of my power point presentation.
I test a person individually, then I stop here; however, if I am testing a
classroom or other large group, I separate the groups into their primary
color. Next, I give each group a large
piece of cardboard, pencils, a box of markers and some pieces of masking
tape. Their assignment is: “As a group,
design an amusement park in 15-20 minutes, tape it on the wall and be ready to
explain it to the group.” It becomes
apparent how differently the groups think, process information, and design it
on paper. Generally the Gold’s are very detail
orientated including parking lots. The
Greens usually only use a pencil and use mostly text. The
In a number of workshops I attended during the past 5 years, I have taken the following notes about each of the personalities:
entertaining, True Colors testing clearly shows a child’s unique personality
and temperament. It also shows us how to
approach, communicate, educate and even discipline a child more effectively
within their natural framework. A
student who is gold will respond better to guidelines than an orange. A blue will respond better to an emotional
plea while a green will expect rational and reasoning. The True Colors testing is currently being
done in the
Colors Assessment, Taken
Colors, Inc., The Theory Behind True Colors.
Judith A. Reliability and Validity of True Colors. (June 2006), Taken