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“ True Colors training helps build communication A pleasant surprise from the True Colors training was learning about the values and strengths possessed by the different groups, as well as the things that challenge them,” says Southwest Teachers Association President Laura Wood, speaking about the half-day professional development workshop that engaged some 60 SWTA site reps and the elementary district’s prin- cipals, assistant principals and other central office administra- tors. “As a chapter president, I found it gave me a new way to think about organizing members and bringing new potential lead- ers to the surface.” True Colors specializes in training and development pro- grams using symbolic colors to represent participants’ personal- ity traits. For instance, gold traits include order, discipline and structure, while blue personali- ties are more concerned with fairness, sensitivity, creativity and concern for others. Orange types tend to be spontaneous and enjoy movement and activ- ity, and green personalities are interested in facts and figures and logical decision-making. SWTA was attracted to the True Colors model because it of- fers a simple method for improved communication based on recogni- tion of a person’s particular type. Participants engage in a series of activities that help them identify their primary color and under- stand what that means in terms of their likes or dislikes, and strengths or stressors. “Everybody probably intuitive- ly knows that they are perhaps more introverted than extroverted or that they prefer to work in groups or that they might be more productive working alone,” says Wood, “but True Colors can help you clarify that knowledge, not only about yourself, but about your colleagues. And it provides a common language in a friendly environment to foster ongoing of the groups planned an ideal classroom environment that would be both conducive to opti- mum learning as well as enjoyable for students of all four colors. The other groups took the task of plan- and SWTA has made great strides in achieving parity as a result of ongoing participation in this group.” SWTA’s desire to help its site reps have the tools they need to discussion and collaboration.” “I really enjoyed CTA’s True Colors training,” says SWTA member Rebecca Margolis. “It was especially important to have a group that included both the top district administrators and principals and the SWTA repre- sentative council and executive board. I found out that my color is blue, so I joined with other blue folks to create an advertisement for the blue tribe. It was musical and very bluesy.” After discovering their own primary color and exploring the colors representing the personality types of their colleagues, work- shop participants divided them- selves into small groups that in- cluded all four colors. Their goal was to use their knowledge and skills to respond to one of two real- life, on-the-job challenges. Some 26 California Educator | december 2009 • january 2010 TOP: Southwest Teachers Association Vice President Andrew Sheiner, Site Rep Karen Skalbeck-George, and Assistant Principal Laura McLean join together in a True Colors workshop highlighting their blue-color tribe. ning an agenda and activities for a school parent night that would be informative and entertaining for parents representing the charac- teristics of the four colors. “It was very interesting to get to know my friends and colleagues in a different way,” says Wood. She notes that SWTA would be using the True Colors training with a group they created called Working Together, which fosters dialogue between their association and South Bay Union School District administrators. “Working Together originated about three years ago out of a vent- ing session after a particularly ac- rimonious round of negotiations,” says Wood. “But both sides were willing to listen and keep talking, address members’ concerns at the site level — and the union’s recognition that the training might also benefit the significant number of new building princi- pals in the district this year — led to the collaboration that made co-offering True Colors with the district possible. “By teaching us about the strengths, values, motivators and frustrations of different kinds of people, the True Colors training prepared us to continue our dia- logue, at the district and site lev- els, with people who may think very differently than we do,” says Wood. “It also helped us to see that many of us had more in com- mon than we realized.” bill Guy CTA photo by Bill Guy

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