9 Types of Students
Let’s face it—there’s a gap. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s important to have a professional relationship with students and that everyone knows you ARE the teacher and they ARE the student. However, just because a relationship is professional doesn’t mean it has to be distant, uncaring, or overly rigid.
Relationships foster growth, promote understanding, and in most instances reduce conflict. There are some students who are easier to connect with than others. In fact, students like everyone else fall somewhere on the “relationship spectrum”—from “clingy/needy” to “distant/hostile.” The easiest students to connect with are those in the middle. They are outgoing and independent with enough self-confidence that they don’t feel or act defensively when approached.
Here are some of the student types you might encounter:
Clingy/Needy: This student seeks out your attention and does not easily let go of it once acquired. You might find yourself in a normal process of greeting this student when he or she launches an uncomfortable or awkward question. The content of the question may be totally normal, but it is almost pushed out of their being in a rush in order not to lose the connection. There may also be moments of awkward silence while the student nervously stares at you hoping, wishing, or waiting for you to rescue the conversation.
Fringe Tastes: This student goes left when the crowd goes right. Unlike other students who seek to identify with the counter-culture or who exhibit an some sort of alternative lifestyle, this student is friendly but clueless—choosing to not swim with the current or against it, but rather to climb out onto the bank and walk.
Culture of Poverty. Students who come from a culture of poverty have a unique set of values and means of coping with life. Research indicates that this culture values people and relationships over possessions, and can do so to the point that people become possessions. As such, the family and friends of this student may put societal pressure on this student to “remain.”
Coddled: This student has grown up being the center of attention and expects to have his or her needs met completely and immediately. Unable or unwilling to “fight their own battles,” they have a cadre of others who are willing to do it for them.
Average: These students enjoy healthy relationships with peers and adults. They have enough self-confidence to handle assessment and/or correction. They know how to begin a conversation and how to end it. They are careful not to intrude on personal space even if they are unaware of the concept.
Overachiever: This student focuses heavily on accomplishment. They value success and will put any amount of effort into achieving their goals. They may be very self-confident, but more likely they have low self-esteem.
Distant: These students avoid relationships. Often described as a “loner,” they prefer the company of cyber-friends to in-person friends. They typically avoid contact with teachers who represent authority. These students don’t have much respect for authority, and they might even fear or resent it.
Hostile: These students might have emotional challenges that cause them to be anxious and/or angry. They interpret every communication through a lens of conflict—painting otherwise innocuous comments to be critical or mean-spirited. When communication occurs, it can easily escalate as this student reads hostility into what is being said.
Campaigner: This student always seems to be promoting a cause or mission. They are outgoing and overly friendly—always having a point they wish to make. They might spend their “listening time” in a conversation preparing what they are going to say next instead of trying to understand what is being said.
Obviously there are other types of students and other ways to describe them. The challenge for teachers is learning to connect with each and every student in order to help them reach educational goals. When you do connect, you will have more influence and the student will benefit greatly (and so will you) from the relationship.
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