How to Cope With 11 Types of Students Who Sometimes Drive You Crazy
By Lynn Usrey
The fact that students in your class are all very different is splendid. But it can also be overwhelming learning how to cope with all these complicated kids. Teachers who have classrooms filled with so many types of students are essentially doomed (just kidding). In reality, things aren’t as bad as they may appear.
Sure, it’s a challenge for you to juggle the daily pressures of running your classroom. It requires real effort and a healthy dose of talent, but understanding the types of kids you have is often half the battle.
11 Types of students
1 – The Buddy-Buddy
The buddy-buddy students are no strangers to flattery. They do their best to win teachers’ hearts, and though there’s nothing wrong with this, it can distract you from the task at hand.
2 – The Worker Bee
Perhaps these are not your best students, and some may know it. Still, this doesn’t slow the worker bees. They study, study, study, and then study some more. They conquer peaks with perseverance. And they conquer lots of them. While everyone is partying hard, these kids are hard at work. There’s certainly nothing wrong with working hard, but the worker bees’ feverish pace can sometimes deflect attention from teachers, who believe the bees are just fine.
3 – The Celeb
These students shine bright and dazzle everyone in the school. While many celebs are often mediocre students, their charisma and charm make people fall in love with them and mobilize armies of fans. Only one thing depresses other classmates: It’s useless to compete with these superstars, who often steal the teacher’s attention from other needy students.
4 – The Egghead
These students are smart and well read. Their answers to your questions are relevant and perfect. Unfortunately, practically nobody socializes with them. That’s why eggheads prefer the company of other eggheads, even though they need to mix it up a little. This is just one of your many challenges in coping with so many types of students.
5 – The Jester
Are things getting too serious in the classroom? That’s when the jesters leap into action. Of course, not all jesters strive for the comedian career, but their sense of humor keeps everyone’s spirits flying high in the classroom. Nevertheless, their jokes can become tiresome.
6 – The Featherhead
At first sight these students can seem quite diligent: They ask lots of questions, they always take plenty of notes, and their eyes radiate commitment. But then you realize that their questions are silly. And you’ve already explained what they’re asking about now. These students are really just mimicking the worker bees. How can you replace a little air with some serious knowledge?
7 – The Hooky-Player
Do you remember the faces of these kids? They’re such infrequent attenders that teachers and classmates usually forget about them. They miss classes for no obvious reason and surprise everyone when they do show up. How can we engage students who are chronically missing our lessons?
8 – The Attention-Seeker
These little manipulators get what they want by making you pay attention to their personalities. They have a stock of dramatic stories they are eager to tell any sympathetic teacher or student. The problem is they never get enough attention.
9 – The Creative Mind
Creativity is their thing and they need nothing except the opportunity to do something fancy. Though they are brilliant in performing creative tasks, creative minds often fail to do anything beyond their favorite kind of work.
10 – The Roughneck
Be wary of these students. Their targets are the helpless students, such as the eggheads. These bullies enjoy tormenting those who are weak or shy (see type 11). The real danger here is getting used to their negative behavior and allowing it to continue.
11 – The Misfit
These introverted students shy away from the rest of the class and seem to be uninterested in making new friends. Misfits are often pariahs. Even the roughnecks are wary of misfits because no one knows what to expect from them. What’s a teacher to do with such a challenging child?
How to cope with all types of students
You teach because you love kids–you want to change the world. But how can you cope with all so many wildly different students in one class? Start with these 5 simple, easy-to-remember tips:
- Before demanding anything, tell students what you expect from them. Write a detailed plan about your class and share it with students so everyone is on the same page. Invite them to discuss the plan and to add to it; giving all types of students a voice is the foundation of building a strong community of learners.
- Explain everything as clearly as possible, and don’t overload them with too many complicated ideas or “teacherspeak”. Keep your language simple and direct. You can also use additional tools like videos, games, and role playing to demonstrate concepts and skills. Go the next step, and ask students how they enjoy learning. Just remember to keep it simple. Once you’ve learned all of these diverse personalities, you can work your way up to the more challenging material, because you’ll know what to expect.
- Anticipate the problems that each type of student might have. Different kids work at different paces and have varying abilities for memorizing new material. Keeping this in mind as you prepare goes a long way toward avoiding issues that confront so many personalities.
- Organize group activities, and consider how you might accentuate the positives of each type of student. The celeb and the attention seeker may not work well together. Meanwhile, the creative mind and the misfit might bring out the best in each other. The goal is to create a favorable environment for collaboration among different students so they can learn to solve problems and complete tasks maximizing their strengths and minimizing their weaknesses.
- Vary the activities students work on in class. Any kind of change motivates students to become more deeply engaged in learning. When assignments are varied, students can find those that best suit them, which sets them up for greater success. Again, consider the personalities you have; they learn differently. If one student likes to draw and another likes games, integrate these opportunities into as many assignments as possible.
Which of the 11 types of students do you find most challenging to work with in the classroom and why? Where you one of these kids when you were in school? Is there a type of student we’ve missed?
Share your thoughts in the comment section below, and help our readers learn more about helping all types of students become the best individuals they can be.
Lynn Usrey is a newbie essayist, freelance writer, and educator. Visit her LinkedIn page for more information.
photo credit: Next generation of religious practitioners, Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche’s Childrens and Young People’s Audience and Blessing, students, Longhouse, Vancouver BC, Lotus Speech Canada via photopin (license)
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