Imagine looking at the members of your family, your team, your workplace, and feeling a sense of appreciation, recognizing them for their uniqueness. Imagine the sense of pride that comes from recognizing your own uniqueness, how you think, what makes you tick, what you have to offer others. Perspective is very powerful and personal bias comes in many forms. Significant experiences, for better or worse shape, our beliefs, and our perspective. But even something as simple as disposition, the way we are hardwired can lead to strong opinions which influence our judgment. There's a lot of talk about tolerance these days, with a focus on race, ethnicity, religion, and gender identification. But no matter how you slice it, we are all human. We are a bigger picture, a puzzle if you will, not a label. Today we hear from Trish Ruppel, a certified learning success coach who is currently working in the role of Student Support Manager. With a long history of homeschooling and personalized learning, as well as a background in special education and her training and learning styles, Trish offers her perspective of the importance of perspective.
Joseph Porter 0:07
If humans are naturally drawn to learning, why doesn't everyone enjoy school? If everyone has unique gifts and talents, why do some people feel dumb, depressed and insignificant? If you want something different, you need to do something different. Welcome to the element is everything podcast where we discuss real-world experiences, research and strategies around finding your element, what it is, how to do it, and how to support others in developing it. Please welcome your host with over 30 years of experience in public education and independent learning, Terry Novacek.
Terri Novacek 0:49
Imagine looking at the members of your family, your team, your workplace, and feeling a sense of appreciation, recognizing them for their uniqueness. Imagine the sense of pride that comes from recognizing your own uniqueness, how you think, what makes you tick, what you have to offer others. Perspective is very powerful and personal bias comes in many forms. Significant experiences, for better or worse shape, our beliefs, our perspectives. But even something as simple as disposition, the way we are hardwired can lead to strong opinions which influence our judgment. There's a lot of talk about tolerance these days, with a focus on race, ethnicity, religion, and gender identification. But no matter how you slice it, we are all human. We are a bigger picture, a puzzle if you will, not a label. Today we hear from Trish Ruppel, a certified learning success coach who is currently working in the role of Student Support Manager. With a long history of homeschooling and personalized learning, as well as a background in special education and her training in learning styles, Trish offers her perspective of the importance of perspective. Thank you Trish so much for joining us today. I know you have oodles and oodles of experience with learning styles and power traits. And you know you and I have talked, we can talk for hours and hours and hours about this. But today we'd like to focus on how knowing your power traits actually helps you feel more connected with learning and successful with it as well at helping you connect with other people. Can you start I guess first by just telling us about this learning styles model because, there's plenty of them out there? Well, thank you, Terri,
Trish Ruppel 3:04
I appreciate being here with you. And the learning styles, the power traits. I really if I just look at the title, I really like how it's a self portrait power traits assessment, it really gives kind of a picture of who you are, not a label, but a picture where if I were to see your assessment results, I get somewhat of a picture, I can start a conversation, I can connect with you with that conversation. And I appreciate that it has five dimensions that it goes into because you don't want to just look at one area, you want to look at all five, ideally, and get a bigger picture of what might be going on. How can I connect? What are my power traits? What are my weaknesses? What are my strengths? How do I balance that with others around me?
Terri Novacek 4:06
Right? Well, and you bring up a good point, you know, a lot of times people think of modalities and to them, that's what learning styles is. And with this approach modalities is just one of those five dimensions. Would you mind breaking out the dimensions and why you think they all interrelate? Okay,
Trish Ruppel 4:28
so there are five dimensions with the power traits assessment, and you have dispositions, you have modalities. You have the environment, interests, and talents.
Terri Novacek 4:43
Tell me about the disposition.
Trish Ruppel 4:46
There are five dispositions they are spontaneous, organized, curious, supportive, imaginative, and these are usually kind of how you're hardwired how you might see the world and how you interact with the world.
Terri Novacek 5:04
Okay, and then modalities which like we said, That's people tend to think that that's all there is to learning styles. What are those? What are modalities?
Trish Ruppel 5:14
So the modalities you do have your, your visual and your audio and your kinesthetic or auditory. But they break it down even more to where is it hands-on kinesthetic? Is it writing? Is it sketching or auditory? Are you verbal? Or do you want to take in the information visually? Is it the texture is it print, and various other ways that they break it down even more? So?
Terri Novacek 5:41
Okay. And then interests and talents? Some people say, Oh, that's easy to understand what that means. But I think sometimes people get them confused. What's the difference between an interest and a talent?
Trish Ruppel 5:57
So interest is something I just might like to do, I may enjoy to snow ski. But when I look at my talents, because there are 10 different talents that they look into. One is, oh, I think it's coordination or something like that. I don't think I'm very high in that one. But my interest of skiing is great enough that I'm going to overcome my lack of talent, and really work hard and become a decent skier. So and then opposites to you can be very talented, perhaps, in music or something, but not quite interested in maybe the particular instrument, you decided you might try or you're just not interested in actually playing an instrument. So interest really drives kind of what you might focus on. But the talents are good to know, too, because you want to make sure that you do when I see a profile without some high talents, I wonder if somebody has confidence in themselves or are lacking because you should have talents and some as some of the areas that are there.
Terri Novacek 7:05
Right? Yeah. You know, you mentioned that you have seen these assessment results that kind of make it look like this child doesn't have a talent in anything? And like you mentioned, we all have talents. Do you have any suggestions for ways to try to figure out what those talents are when a child's self-esteem is so low that they aren't able to recognize them?
Trish Ruppel 7:36
First of all, you know, I check in with the parents, there have been times that the student just got tired and talents are at the end of the assessment, and they just didn't complete them or they didn't understand. But when it is, like you just said that they just don't see themselves as talented. The first thing I probably do, depending on the age of the student, too, is connected with the parent, see if they recognize their talents. And if they're being validated, and is the student being valued for their talents, a lot of times, it's kind of the flip side, sometimes someone might only see the negative, and not the positive of it, and to start validating that student and show them that the value of this talent is needed and important. And then just getting to know the student. And then slowly knowing seeing talents myself within the student and bringing that up in conversation with them.
Terri Novacek 8:31
Right. So you just made me think of something with that idea reframing and one of the things that I think of is, you know, we talked about the student, that's the chatty Cathy. And you know, of course, the negative is the child's disruptive in a class setting, but there is value to that. And with some reframing, we can help Cathy's chattiness the more beneficial to her and the people around her. Can you think of some other instances where there are maybe some talents that the greater population might look at as negative? But if you reframe it, you can help them find the positive?
Trish Ruppel 9:26
Yes, that is such a good area to look into. Because I think we see that every day. Because with, like we just said, The flip side of everything. So what I can think of if you know you have a student that seems to be you might say, oh, they're daydreaming, they're, they're not with what we're doing right now. And instead of saying, Hey, come on, we're focused on this right now catch up with us or, you know, look at what you know, whatever it is, might be saying, hey, you know Suzy, I see that you're thinking of something. Or what do you see when you are looking out in that particular direction, and kind of just, you know, using questions, guided questions to see what's inside of them, and then validate and value that because they not be may not be getting that recognition.
Terri Novacek 10:17
Right. Yeah, you know, if it took a couple of minutes, or maybe even five to find out what's going on in their brain, they might be able to let it go and get back to the work that you want them to focus on. So let's go back to dispositions because I know, you know, even though there are five dimensions to this whole program, the dispositions really become a big part of understanding how you operate, and how your dispositions might meet or clash with others. So can you describe each of them a little bit more? And then maybe, you know, address how some of them do end up with some conflict with others?
Trish Ruppel 11:06
Oh, that's a big question there, Terri. So, um, you know, if I can, I'd like to give an example, I'm just thinking of, you come into a room, and they hand you a box. And I'm just let's just say it's a Lego box. And you're supposed to complete the kit, the picture with the with what's on the box, and you're going to have some that are going to say, Oh, good, I hope there are directions, I'm going to follow directions, I can get this done. Okay, that would possibly be your organized the one who likes to have ordered, then there could be the curious one that wants to find solutions. I could do this, like, I don't want directions, I can just do it, discover it, put it together. And then you might have the supportive person, I'm just kind of guessing they want harmony, okay, this is what we're doing. I'm just going to join any group and just do whatever they're doing. It's cool with me, I can do this. I think you know, possibly, the imaginative person who likes to contribute ideas, is wondering, why are we doing this at all? Possibly, because they're not quite sure how what, what ideas is that I can't just create something that I'm instead limited to this box, or perhaps limited might be a better way of saying that. And spontaneous just wants to have fun. They might be the one who's saying Why? Let's just have fun. Why are we doing this, but okay, I'm just going to go around to each group and cheer them on, you know, instead of doing the box at all. So I hope that is a little bit of a picture that shows how you what, what they come into the room with, and then how they might clash. We could dig deeper into that, but recognizing that each has something to contribute. But sometimes we wonder because we think our way is the best way. Hey, that gave me a box that follows directions. Why isn't everybody else doing that? You know, so it's recognizing that there are other people coming from another direction.
Terri Novacek 13:07
Right. So if you're the organized parent, you're handing these Legos to your child, and you want to sit down and go through the instructions with them. But that imaginative child saying, I don't need these instructions. I know this is building a car, but I actually see a plane or a dinosaur, you know, and I'd rather build that. And, you know, well, Legos is a pretty safe area. When you're in a classroom, that that can be a bigger, bigger deal or even in the home environment when you know parent has a certain way they want something done. And right.
Trish Ruppel 13:51
But just to expand on that too it, it can be very hard. If whatever it is, I've seen it both directions. A parent might be very organized or opposite, imaginative and the child is the opposite. It's really hard as a parent, because you're coming from how you see things and you love your child, and you desire to give them the best. And you're coming from how you want your thinking your child is two, and sometimes even seen it on paper, you have that results of the portrait. And it's explained to you, but it's hard for it to click, shall we say that? How can anyone just not want directions and just recreate something different? That sounds so complicated, but really, that's what works for them. And the beauty of it is that when you can allow that to happen. And it takes more time it can be a little messier, and it takes a little bit more time.
Terri Novacek 14:39
Right? Well and then sometimes you have to ask yourself how important is it that these Legos get used to making a car? Is there anything wrong with them making a dinosaur instead? You know, and I think you know, sometimes we get hung up on well that's the way it's always been or you know The end result has to look like this without really asking ourselves, why, you know, how, how much does it really matter? And, you know, we're talking about adult-child relationships, but this, this works child to child and adult to adult as well. Very much. So that is true. And I think of, you know, even in the work environment, something like this, you know, comes out people sharing office space. Yeah. You know, the one that's very quiet and subdued and organized, and the other one that's all over the place.
Trish Ruppel 15:42
True, true. I mean, if you're, you know, you've got a project, and you're the type who wants to finish that project and, and sees that, that's the important part. And then you're next to someone who is about having harmony and just having joy. And there, you know, so what if the project takes another day, there's something else to talk about, or other ideas come up on, that's kind of hard for someone who says, I'm working on this project, I'd like to get it done. But really, the other person has very good things to contribute, just adding joy to the office or adding a new idea to the office. And it all of them are important. But we are people. And sometimes we kind of have to sit back and take a breath and go, Okay, this is good. But, you know, it takes a little bit of work.
Terri Novacek 16:28
Right? Well, and, you know, you bring up a really good point, I, I think that well, by knowing yourself here, and your styles, and knowing that everybody does have different styles, and they're, you know, there's not a right or wrong, it just is I think it helps you, self advocate, you know, so like, you're saying, you know, if you and I are working together, and we're very different. I can recognize what you are like, and you can recognize what I am like neither one of us right or wrong, and then we can work together to figure out, Okay, how do we make this work with what we've got going on, instead of me trying to make you like me, and vice versa.
Trish Ruppel 17:16
That's true. And, and for some, that works pretty well. And then you still have the, someone who's probably wine harmony, they'll they don't self-advocate perhaps as well, because they just want to blend in and work with whoever's doing. So in that ethic, it's really good that we then teach that you don't always need to blend in it is okay to speak up and recognize it's hard for some people to speak up adults, it doesn't matter. So then the other person might recognize to actually ask, draw it out of them, perhaps, you know, because some people are just much better at self-advocating.
Terri Novacek 17:57
Right? Yeah, that's a good point. Anything else that you feel is really important, as kind of an introduction?
Trish Ruppel 18:09
Um, I think, well, the best thing is to take the learning styles, take the power traits. And there is when you get your results, there's actually these learn more buttons that really will give you information directly on what do you contribute? What, there's a one-button also in there about family group conflicts? How might they see you and how might you see a different disposition, I think that is super helpful right off the bat. Because sometimes we don't value who we are, we may have only heard the flip side negative side that needs to be reframed. And we need to recognize that we are contributing to the environment that we're in. So I think that's really helpful to recognize that. First and foremost, you've got you have value, you have something to contribute,
Terri Novacek 19:08
and so does the other person. Right? Know what it is and be comfortable celebrating it.
Trish Ruppel 19:16
Exactly, definitely. I like that word, celebrate.
Terri Novacek 19:20
Tell me a little bit more about the environment. I think people when they think of a learning environment, they're only thinking of a classroom. And as we know, learning happens anywhere and all the time. And there are different environments, and it's about more than what type of desk you're sitting at. Can you expand on that?
Trish Ruppel 19:43
Yes. So environments You're right. A lot of times people think that's the least on the power trades, but honestly, it is really important to look at because sometimes you don't even recognize, for example, lighting. Some people have natural lighting, you know, you, you might list natural lighting or bright lights or whatever it is you've list. But you might not even recognize when you come in, if you're a natural lighting person or a dim lighting person, you might not recognize when you come into a brightly lit office or a classroom or whatever the thing is that you go into that it might be stifling you or something or just and, and instead, and if you do recognize, and instead of like, oh, turn the lights down, it's like, how can I function in this environment, because this is what it is if you can't self-advocate, but in your home, you might recognize that your child really functions better in this type of lighting versus another lighting, my child functions better if they're laying on the floor when I'm reading to them. Or if they're doing something with their hands when I'm reading to them. It doesn't always have to be on a desk like you said, Terri, it may even be music, in their ears really moving music, and they can focus now on creating the writing project to someone who's that doesn't work for that seems so foreign, like how could you want crazy music going in your ears. And you can whip out a paper now or whip out your math, but it works. So I would just say, allow it, give it a trial and see if it does improve whatever they're working on. And normally it does.
Terri Novacek 21:31
Right? You know another thing I see coming up more and more is just the idea of circadian rhythms. And you know, some of us are night owls. And some of us are morning larks. And, again, I just there's so much value in really letting your body wake up and do its thing naturally, you know, and have some time to really figure out when does your brain spark, you know, the best during the day. And, you know, I know not everybody has the luxury to do that. But you know, in a personalized learning environment, a student can say, you know what my brain works best during these hours. And so those are going to be the hours that I work on, you know, my math and my science and my focused writing or, you know, something like that.
Trish Ruppel 22:29
Yeah, that is so true. And, and another thing we have to realize is that we're in the dynamics of a family too. Sometimes we have to do some adjusting. But there are other times when your student if there's if they're at the age of some independent work, and they want to be up at seven in the morning, and their work is done before you've gotten up to have breakfast. That's, that's fine. You know, that's the beauty of the personalized learning and the home environment. But then again, also, we have to learn how to function within the dynamics of a family or you need to be somewhere at a certain time, or your math class is at nine o'clock, and you do function better at one o'clock in the afternoon. Can you change the class? Possibly? Or you learn how to function at 10 o'clock, you know, but I totally do agree with you, Terri, that if one can create an environment where you're where your brain is ready for what you're doing, and in the same time, learn how to fit in where you need to, for family purposes, work purposes or whatever.
Terri Novacek 23:33
Yeah, exactly. It's an awareness. It's not an excuse. You don't say my brain doesn't work at one o'clock. That's why I can't do algebra in my one o'clock algebra class, you just need to be aware that, you know, it's going to take a little extra effort and maybe think of some other things, you know, go out for a jog or something ahead of time to kind of get the blood flowing
Trish Ruppel 23:56
and Right, right. And that's really good. The physical exercise. I know, that's not part of our traits. But it is an important part to redirect, what is it that redirects you? is it taking a run? Is it you know, just having some time to yourself? Is it deep breathing, whatever it is, then do that so that you can be prepared?
Terri Novacek 24:18
Great. Thank you so much for helping us step into the world of power traits. And I'm sure we will be talking again as we dive a little deeper into each section. Well, thank
Trish Ruppel 24:33
you, Terri, it's been my pleasure.
Terri Novacek 24:36
As Trish points out, everyone looks at the Lego box differently. knowing yourself and how others view you helps you gain insight which builds skills for self-advocacy and collaboration. One of the many things I appreciate about the power traits assessment is that it does not focus on the demographics which have become so political. It looks at the bigger picture. It doesn't see me as a white, heterosexual agnostic female, but a curious and supportive person who often struggles with performing someone who learns best with pictures like movies and slides, and who learns better when she can talk aloud to herself when working. While I like the naturalness of fresh air and natural light, I prefer working at a desk. I am most energetic in the early morning, I have six favorite subjects, only four of them are easy for me to grasp. And I have 12 favorite activities. Now, if you ask me if I have any talents, I would not be able to name any. However, if I look at my power traits results, it tells you I have six areas that stand out. And when I sit back and look at the list, I think, Oh, I never thought of that as a talent. But yeah, okay, I do see how I'm stronger in those areas and other areas. And best of all, how I can use those talents to help other people. In order to grow and experience success, it's not only important to know and connect with who we are but to recognize and respect other perspectives as well. To find a balance in order to come to an agreement or understanding of the common desired result. We all know that metaphor, variety is the spice of life. Well, let's spice things up. Take some time to focus on a family member, a friend, or a colleague with whom you've been butting heads. How were you and they saw something the same and different? What experiences play into your and their beliefs. What can you gain by knowing each other better? What do you lose if you don't? Students enrolled in an Element Education school use the power traits assessment to design their personalized learning plan. It is part of their regular education program. But if you are not a student enrolled in the program, and you're interested in taking the assessment, you can access the link in the show notes of the Element Is Everything website. Learn more about yourself and how you see others. Experience the joy of recognizing and celebrating personal gifts. And celebrate!