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Entry date: 1-19-2022 - Types of Students - Letters to My Teaching Friends (and everyone else, too)

Dear Friends,

This one is really for the teachers, but I’m guessing parents and people who are interested in learning about how a classroom works will like it, as well. We shall see, won’t we?

So, a classroom is an interesting place to be. There are lots of things happening at all times. Even when you are close to getting all the minds going in the same direction, there is always one (or three) that are not wanting to go where you want them to go.

There are peacemakers in the classroom. They want everything to be harmonious and everyone to be happy. It warms the heart, really, until the peacemakers get so wound up about what is going on that their peacemaking becomes a distraction.

The peacemakers often clash with the anarchists. Every class has an anarchist or two. They may not be bad or disruptive in overt ways, but they will try to bring chaos whenever possible. They like to stir things up and the peacemakers hate it. Peacemakers want the anarchists to be happy and the anarchists want the peacemakers to shut the hell up.

In the younger grades, there are the kids who know they are super cute and therefore think they can get away with anything. They are like young celebrities. They think that you’ll be mesmerized by their cuteness and, to be honest, sometimes you are, but they still think they can pull shit (that also doesn’t stink). The young celebrities frustrate both the peacemakers and the anarchists and rarely are they true friends.

If you are doing something interesting, you can get the peacemakers, anarchists, and young celebrities all doing an activity, though. Peacemakers will go along because they love the harmony of it all. Anarchists like to be challenged to think and the young celebrities will go along because doing so makes them look good. When it works like this you can’t, as a teacher, get too high or disappointment will strike you down like a bolt of lightning.

Harmony in the classroom, true harmony, never lasts long but you can build from it.

Then there are the perpetually confused. We’ll call them the PCs. PCs just can help but be befuddled by anything and everything. Ask them why they are doing something they are not supposed to be doing and they will stare at you with the sweetest, most unknowing eyes you have ever seen. In your mind, you will wish that you were able to unleash lightning bolts of your own, but since you can’t, you are just left to fend off the attractive nature of the befuddlement. PCs will kill brain cells faster than Everclear. The booze, not the band.

Chatty Kathy’s can be corralled, but they truly want to run unbridled and free like the wild horses (and cards) they are. Sometimes you can use them to your advantage if you can get them talking about the topic of the hour. They get wound up easily and if you get them on task, they can move mountains for you because students of all ages will listen to their peers more readily than you.

You are the enemy.

You are time personified and that’s scary shit to the young.

You are the voice of reason, terror, and worst of all, work.

You will have worker bees in class, too. The worker bees do what you tell them to do. Some are part peacemaker and will want everyone to be working in harmony, but many worker bees could care less what anyone else is doing. They will sometimes flock together, though, and students who are inclined to the hive mind and/or the success that worker bees often experience can be converted. It’s fun to see and when you see it, the magic of it can be blinding.

Then there are the performers, too. Some are jugglers who can truly have several performances going on at once. They are charming their peacemaker neighbor, clowning for the easily distracted PC across the room, and engaged with a chatty Kathy all at the same time. Jugglers are the worst, in a way, because you admire their ability to multi-task but hate having to clean up their continual messes.

Some performers are into the whole “look at me” thing. They will do anything to get another student’s attention, even to the detriment of the lesson or activity, no matter how much fun they are having with it. They will completely ignore the learning process to gain attention from one or many people. Often these look at me-types are the hardest to get back on track, too, because they are so high on the attention they received.

There are also performers who don’t realize why they are performing. These are the cluelessly neglected folks. They don’t realize they are attention starved and will truly do anything to get some attention when their attention tank has run dry, which is often. These poor saps just need someone to listen to them and let them know they matter. Heartbreakers, they could be called, too.

So, we have peacemakers, anarchists, young celebrities, perpetually confused, chatty Kathy’s, worker bees, performers (all three types), and we haven’t even talked about the reporters and the armchair psychiatrists.

I’m sure the reporters don’t even need to be talked about, but every classroom has them, as well. They are the ones who tell you everything that happens when you have turned your back, left the room, or when they think you have missed something. Reporters can sometimes be peacemakers or look at me’s, but sometimes they are just reporters, and they want you to know the scoop.

Lately I’ve been thinking that some of the reporters in my classroom, of which there are several, are probably future CNN reporters and some are definitely future FOX News reporters as the truth of the events that have unfolded are often skewed. Regardless of the skew, though, they are useful, at times, and you can’t discourage them too much. Apathetic reporters are the worst.

Lastly, the armchair psychiatrists deserve a mention. These are often peacemakers who have decided to ascend to a higher level. Like a reporter, they want you to know what is going on, but they also want to get into a discussion about why it is going on. They talk and listen to those involved in classroom happenings and then love to theorize about the “why.” They are also very helpful to anyone they think needs a little help, even if their advice is not requested.

Would love to read what you think about this in the forum.

See you tomorrow.

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