Not every class with be like Miss Honey’s in Matilda. You won’t get that one student you need to worry about and forget the rest because they’re all doing alright. The ability level of the class might affect your planning but the students types affect our teaching.
From my experience so far, I’ve gathered a data of student types. I’ve been around them as a student and now have them in my classes. Each come with their own baggage and each can define the vibe of a class. Trust me, vibe is what teachers end up needing. We feed off of the energy in the class and try to bounce it back to keep it all going till the end. If the vibe in the class is like a graveyard, you’re most likely dying inside. But if the vibe is good, great even, you feel like the sun is shining and it won’t let up. Even if the lesson goes poorly, your remember the vibe.
This I could split into two categories but I’ll respectfully keep them separate. These can be students who work on their subject as if it were all they were studying. they’ll stay behind and ask for help or email all the time and was reassurance they’re doing alright. Also, I’ve known some who struggle in their subject, driving them to study and improve; in some cases it breaks my heart as their progress can be slow which means they’re always 2 steps behind in class, no matter what 😦
This would have gone under ‘Hard Worker’ but it really is a category on its own. And under this there are 2 sub-categories I will make :
- Genuine smarts:
This student will always have an answer, even if they don’t volunteer it, and are clearly going to set the standards for the class. They will be competed against covertly or overtly and are usually pleasant to all students, not sticking their noses in the air.
- The deluded know-it-all:
This one has the attitude of I’m-too-smart-for-this-class, when in fact they’re a averaging on borderline C/D. Inside, all teachers laugh at them. Real hard. They won’t do much of the work, claiming they know the material, yet will hardly produce at homework or classwork to show for it. It is probably insecurity that drives them to have such an obnoxious attitude, but even after a nice talking to…they persist. And then you wonder why you didn’t just wait for them to go up in flames when they get to the end of the year to realise they’ve failed.
They are quiet. The ones you forget in class sometimes. they can go an entire lesson not having been picked on or contributing to the lesson, and you wouldn’t really have noticed. The silence can a result of a number of things, or simply because they are quiet. These student are the ones you want to draw out most and often they have the potential to perform but are not holding themselves back.
Sounds odd, but I truly believe this type needs its own section. Something that might seem applicable to most students, but often I’ve seen it reoccur in those that solely exist in the class to do this: they never know what’s going on!
You can speak to them 10 times in the lesson about it, but come the next lesson…they’ve forgotten. They’ll often go into denial of ever hearing instructions or just set off into panic about it and keep the class and myself entertained till they’ve had their moment. Questions like ‘Really, miss?’ But why, miss?’ Nononono, miss I’ve never heard of it!’ ‘When did you ever tell us about an assessment?!‘ And so on. I’m surprised they don’t sit there and question why they come to lesson in the first place. Or why they exists.
The Host kind:
These are the like the quiet ones but different. They are their own kind. Host kind. As if taken over from the inside, lacking any life or energy. They just sit and watch the lesson go by, like Ofsted inspectors…They might seem harmless but they are annoying with their aura of darkness and empty eyes.
I’m sure I don’t really have to explain this one. They get out of bed to then come and sleep on a desk. I’ve pocked and whispered threats (harmless, I swear!) into their ears to get their face off the desk. Unless there is a welfare issue to excuse them, which isn’t always the case, I despair at having to wake them up. They knock off one after the other and I end up playing whack-a-mole for the lesson. They look up from time to time, but mostly get cosy and hide their faces till the end of lesson.
No matter how you explain it, or how much time you spend of giving out the instructions in different ways to ensure they all know what to do…you still end up hearing that one voice in the corner say ‘I don’t get it’. It’s possible something wasn’t explained properly, but when the entire class is on task and those few who are the usual few who are lost, you know it’s not you. They’ll try to quietly ask for help from their peers, and you pretend you didn’t hear them to see how they get on, but you’ll still find them staring at the board looking confused.
With or without an excuse, they’ll walk in and it’ll be the same faces. They won’t hurry in, but stole in like they own the place
These are the ones that play a part in carrying the lesson. They’ll be vocal and motivate their group or be active in getting things done. They make you smile and hope that they never fall ill to leave you alone with the rest. Without them knowing it, they lead the class. They create the vibe!
I’m sure there are others, but there are the most predominant types in the classes I’ve taught and they come to mind the most.