I have come across a plethora of student personalities and have found that most students fall into at least 1 of the following 9 categories. During my time with these students, I have used a few tricks that have helped my classroom and my relationship with them that has allowed for their personality to help the classroom experience in a positive way.
Accomplished– These are the Advanced Placement students or Gifted students. Their IQs are possibly above the average classroom student. You can recognize these students by their ability to excel in your class and understand new tasks quickly. But, They also are the students who tend to give up when effort is required.
Try: Setting parameters for your expectations; rubrics, page limits, and/or time limits. Teach the Growth Mindset to these students. Congratulate them when effort is put forth, when the project is done neatly, pair them up with the ‘Motivated’ student to help them try their best. Encourage them to take their time and NOT be the first ones finished.
Comedian– This student really likes attention; positive or negative. And they will get it anyway they possibly can; dancing, singing, telling jokes, answering questions with a sly remark. These behaviors usually gets these students sent to the office.
Try: First and foremost, Ignore the behavior (if it is not harming themselves or others), setting up a behavior plan with the student that is only known between you and the student (no attention brought to the child), a behavior contract- if the student can refrain from entertaining the class during the productive times in class, then he is allowed to tell 1 joke at the end.
Motivated– Every classroom has at least one of these students and thank goodness for these students. They are motivated to do well in class, stress out when they don’t reach their idea of success, but they try even when it is difficult. Some would call this student the ‘Teacher’s Pet”.
Try: Congratulate these students on their effort, reward and celebrate the small successes during class, use these students as examples of good behavior and effort in your class.
Natural Leader– These students are the ones everyone looks up to. They are typically enthusiastic about school, well liked, and well-rounded. The natural leader may be a bit demanding during group work or projects, but they will be the presenter during these presentations.
Try: During group work/projects, give this leader a To Do list and make sure the group members have job titles and tasks or the Leader will take complete charge over the project. Allow these leaders to present first during presentations- their confidence and their unique ability to ‘command’ a classroom will set the standard for the presentations.
Organized– These are far and few between, but thank goodness there are a few of these students. Most likely, these students are female (can be male), have a clean backpack, organized binder, a color coded pen system during note taking and LOVE to organize your classroom library. Some would call this student the ‘Teacher’s Pet”
Try: Give these students the jobs in the classroom that require an organizer; librarian, absent work collector. Notice their organizational skills, make comments on them because this small gesture will go a long way.
Sensationalist– This is your drama queen. I personally know a lot about this one because this was me in school. Everything is a big deal!!! They are master manipulators, story tellers, but are also the victim in every situation.
Try: Don’t make classroom redirections a big deal, try not to bring too much attention to this student, but you should use them when reenacting classroom stories or storytelling. When dealing with behaviors, talk through the situation and scenario with them. Allow them to tell their entire side of the story first, then show them and express to them how they should’ve reacted. They need to hear the other side of the story- how their behavior made another person feel.
Unresponsive– Unfortunately, there is one of these in most classes. This is the student that will sit in class without participating in discussion, class work or even respond to direct questioning.
Try: Build a relationship with this student outside of class time; have lunch together, watch how they interact with others at recess, P.E. or fine arts classes. Get to know this student. Try a participation contract- if they raise their hand and participate in small group discussion at least 5 times in class, then ______________. Try and get their parents on board to encourage them to participate in class.
Respectful– What a joy it is to have this student in class. “Yes ma’am”,” no ma’am,” “please”, “thank you”, “Have a nice day”, “you look nice today, Mrs. ___”.
Try: Don’t bring too much attention to this child for their respectful behavior, but do acknowledge with a note home or a call home. Parents really appreciate hearing that they have raised a respectful child. Try pairing this student with the Comedian or the Sensationalist during partner/group work.
Unorganized/Unprepared– This is the student that comes to class without their homework, pencil, or even backpack. They may even show up to school late on most days. Their backpacks, lockers and desks are a disaster.
Try: Teaching them a few organizational skills. Meet with their parents to try and set up a homework reward system and teach them a few organizational skills. Most of the time, this is a learned behavior. Do not punish the student if they don’t have a pencil or come to school tardy. Instead, have a special pencil ready for that child and celebrate the fact that they showed up to school – even if it is late.
These are the personalities that I have found in my classrooms every year. Students can have a mix of these personalities, but one of these is most dominant. Use their dominant personality to your advantage in the classroom. Find the personality that gets under your skin the most and build the strongest bond with that student as soon as possible. I guarantee that will be the student you will never forget, and the personality will no longer be what you see – you will start seeing the student!