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4 Types of Students ALL Teachers Meet and How To Handle Them: PART 2

There are so many different personalities that fill our classrooms each and every day.  Last week we talked about four types of students we often see.  This week we want to touch on FOUR MORE personality types we meet as teachers and how to handle them!


Each student is an individual and one of the most amazing aspects of being a teacher is that we get to see each individual grow throughout the year.  We have the opportunity to mentor each student no matter what their personality type may be. What a privilege! 

Today we will talk about four more student “personality types”  and how to handle them day by day. 

Four  MORE Types of Students and How To Handle Them

1. The Skeptic

The_skeptic (4)This student requires answers.  They tend to question everything you say or teach. Many times they are confused or blatantly wrong in their skepticism, yet they will argue despite that fact. They often tow the line between respect and disrespect.  When we look a little closer however, we find a curious student who wants to do well and strives to learn something new each day.  They want to be challenged and they want their voice to be heard. They can get under our skin and test our patience, but if we guide these students in the right direction they can end up being the best thinkers we have in the class as well as our greatest advocate. 

How To Handle The “Skeptic”

1. Do not dismiss them, listen carefully to what they are asking and take a moment to address the question or comment.  The key is to be patient, and answer in a way that can benefit the entire class.  You don’t want to discourage questioning, but you want to make sure the questions are beneficial overall. 

2. If the question or comment is off topic or blatantly wrong in its assertion, offer to meet with them at lunch or after class to discuss it further.  If they are truly curious and want an answer they will give up their free time to discuss it with you.  Take this opportunity, as the teacher,  to re-teach the concept and discuss proper classroom etiquette and respect in a one to one setting.  

3. Start with a positive comment before answering or “correcting” the student.  Something like, “I can see where you are coming from in your thinking, however…”  

This way no one is embarrassed and the student has the chance to have an “out” to move forward once they understand the answer you have given. 

2. The Ghost

The_ghostThis student is absent constantly and may have to attend summer school or be retained because of this. They can be students who become disruptive because they are so far behind that they give up altogether.  Instead of showing they do not understand the concepts, they would rather be “cool” in front of their peers so they become the class clown in many cases.  Many of these absences however may be due to something going on in their home life or perhaps a chronic illness.  When we look further into these students we can often get to the root of the issue and handle them on a case by case basis.  Each “ghost” student will be different.  Whether they are the class clown or the quiet student that tries to go unnoticed, we want to do our best to reach out to them and let them know they are cared for each day whether they are present or not.

How To Handle The “Ghost”

1. If they have computer access at home, offer them an “online” version of what they miss in class.  Include a “discussion” option where classmates can join in as well. This way they can keep up with the basic information being taught in class, interact with classmates,  and when they are present they will be able to participate without worry or fooling around.  

2. Attendance is a critical aspect of student and school success.  Intervene early if signs of “chronic absence” are occurring.  Contact the parents to find out what the issue may be or schedule a meeting with the parents and the team at school in order to come up with a plan.

3. Anxiety can be a reason for student absence.  Create an inviting and secure environment for the student. Provide extra help if needed to get them back on track and follow through with updates to keep them successful.  Have someone they trust available for them to give them guidance when needed. Try to find what can alleviate the anxiety for the student and advocate for them whenever possible.

3. The Lone Wolf

the_lone_wolfThis student’s main concern is looking cool in front of their peers. They often pretend to not care about things or are dismissive in hopes of getting attention. Other times they need to have the latest and greatest fad available in order for peers to look at them as trendy or cool.  They will do whatever it takes to be the popular kid or the one everyone wants to be like. Deep down they hold a desire to protect a tender self-concept of themselves.  If they do not understand something or if they fall behind in class they will dismiss what they are learning as unimportant.  When dealing with this personality type it is important to meet them where they are and guide them along the way instead of “telling” them what to do.

How To Handle The “Lone Wolf”

1.Be alert to their self-doubt. Don’t argue with them or “tell” them that they are mistaken. Instead come alongside them and guide them. You have to help them feel more successful on their own.

2. Use opportunities to give them responsibility and ownership. Find where they excel in school, whether it be an interest or topic.  Give them leadership roles within the classroom when you are teaching on this topic.  Usually other students follow the “lone wolf” because it makes them feel cool.  If the “lone wolf” finds learning cool so will the rest of the class. 

3. These students don’t often like to be “praised” in front of the class.  Pull them aside and let them know they are doing a great job and that you are proud of them when they do well.  A little positive encouragement can go a long way.

4. The Trendsetter

The_Trendsetter2This student is a free spirit.  They are often a pleasure to have in class and they “beat to their own drum.”  Other students tend to embrace their quirkiness and at times mimic it in hopes of being cool.  The “trendsetter” is very often the student who volunteers to assist teachers, students, or anyone that needs help.   Being “cool” in front of their peers truly isn’t important to them and it is that attitude that creates acceptance among other students. True “trendsetters” are very rare to see in the middle school or high school classroom, but when they are spotted make sure to embrace their differences and their love of life.

How To Handle The “Trendsetter”

1. Embrace and encourage their free spirit and way of thinking.  Challenge them to think outside of the box in their learning because they already tend to do so in other areas of their lives.  

2. These students are natural leaders and are willing to befriend anyone.  Give them opportunities to work with those students who are struggling both socially and academically.  The “trendsetter” usually is a great peer role model for struggling students and will be an encouragement to them daily. 

3. Give them opportunities to make a difference outside of the school walls.  These students want to know that what they do has meaning.  Provide for them chances to do this and other students will join.  The “trendsetter” sets the trends in the classroom culture that often later become the “norms.”  

 Every student we encounter is different and may have unique needs depending on their personality.  The bottom line however with any student is that we, as teachers, create an environment where they feel safe, secure, and accepted. 

Want to know which type of student YOU are?  TAKE THE QUIZ 🙂

[shareable cite=”Chuck Poole”]Teachers have the opportunity to mentor each student no matter what their personality type may be.[/shareable]

Question: What other ways can we handle these types of students?  Leave a comment by clicking here.

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