In part one of this series, we covered personality types a teacher may encounter in the classroom.  Part one personalities are more prevalent in elementary classrooms.  The personality types in this article may be seen in lower grades; but could also be seen in middle and high school students.  The hope is always that kids and teachers have learned to handle the classroom setting by high school; but there are times when this age can be quite challenging.

The Arguer

The arguer is disruptive to any classroom of any age students.  This is the student who wants to have the last word and will do so at the expense of teaching time and the teacher’s sanity.  It can be easy to fall prey to the arguer by arguing back; but this only further escalates the problem and winds up leaving you feeling drained and helpless.  The arguer needs to be dealt with swiftly and effectively in order for you to effectively teach all the students..

Tips for the Arguer

  • Remain calm but assertive.  This type of student can be particularly challenging and the temptation to put them in their place can be great.  However, debating with this type of student will get you nowhere because they can be masters at taking you down all sorts of winding roads of debate.  Instead of getting caught up in secondary behaviors of muttering, slouching or smirking, stay on point with the primary behavior you find unacceptable.  If you have solutions for all of the excuses they come up with, they have no power.
  • An arguer cannot continue to be disruptive if they have no one to argue with.  Maintain your composure and refuse to be led down the path of infinite discussion, remind the student of classroom rules clearly and assertively.  If the student is being disruptive in their arguing, perhaps it would work to try and wait them out silently.  With so much focus on them, it may just be what they need to quiet down.
  • It is never acceptable for a student to take away what little time you have to teach.  If a student is consistently disruptive, a conference between you, the student and the parents may be necessary.  If this is a high school student, their counselor may also wish to be present.

The Long Face

The student who pouts can also be quite disruptive to the class; because their secondary behavior can far outlast the primary behavior you are attempting to squelch.  For instance, you have a student who tends to lag in getting to work.  They may wander through the classroom to borrow items they do not have.  When redirected back to their seat, this student will roll their eyes, sigh loudly, hunch over their desk, etc.  These secondary behaviors are a real problem and can outweigh the fact that they are getting out of their seat or speaking out of turn – whatever the primary behavior is.

Tips for the Long Face:

  • During class, stay on track with the primary behavior.  It is always essential that you address one thing at a time; otherwise you run the risk of losing a large portion of your valuable class time.
  • Just before the bell rings, state that the offending student needs to hang back.  With your classroom door open, ask the student if they are aware of their classroom behavior.  Often, this type of student does not realize they are displaying the sulking behaviors; or do so unintentionally.  Demonstrate for the student what their behavior is and explain that this sort of outburst not only makes them look bad; but is simply unacceptable in the classroom.

As with all things relating to the student-teacher relationship, developing rules and dealing with personality issues is something that makes the most impact when done at the beginning of the school year.  When a student gets away with poor behavior for even a few weeks, it is more difficult to address and regain control.  Take control of your class and the many personalities you will deal with right away and you’ll stand a good chance of staying in control all year long.

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