Teachers and Personalities – Part II

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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.

Teachers and Personalities – Part I

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For your job as a teacher to go as smoothly as possible; and to set up an environment where you and your students are at ease, it is quite helpful to learn about the personality types.  Personality profiling has been in existence for a long time.  Understanding personalities not only helps you know yourself better; but a grasp of the types of personalities also helps you to better relate to people you come across in your work and personal life.

When it comes to personalities for this article, we are going to cover the personalities you may encounter in the classroom.  Kids come in all shapes and sizes and it’s sure you have been host to at least one of these personality types.  In fact, many teachers will read these descriptions and nod in agreement that they have indeed seen these kids – often more than one at a time – come through their classroom.  In learning how to focus each personality and redirect their behaviors, you can gain more control over your classroom and feel good about how you have done it.

The Talker

You probably know the talker easier than any other personality type.  This is the student who turns to their neighbor the moment your back is turned to write something on the board.  It is as if there is no filter between their mind and their mouth.  While this personality can be bubbly and loving, the incessant talking during class can be extremely frustrating for both the teacher and students.

Tips for the Talker:

  • Maintain a cool while using a calm and even tone of voice while reminding the student of desired behavior.  Do not become angry, irritated or sarcastic and watch your body language; remaining calm.
  • Expect compliance.  Instead of asking a student to “please” stop their talking, remind them of your classroom rule with a statement such as “One at a time, thank you.”  Using “thank you” instead of “please” sends the message that you expect they will comply.
  • If you have a particular student that suffers from a runaway mouth, it is best to seat them up front where they are physically closer to you.  Seating them away from the rest of the class completely only calls attention to their poor habits. Keeping the student close to you makes them feel better about themselves and allows you to quickly redirect behavior if it becomes necessary.

The Demander

Another personality you see often in an elementary classroom is that of the student who is demanding of the teacher’s time and attentions.  This student is also known as the Clinger.  They are characterized by their need for “extra help” once you have given an assignments and made the directions quite clear.  This personality is tricky because you never want to leave a student stranded.  If they really need your help, you want to give it.  However, consistently attending to this student every time they demand extra help will only solidify their behavior and teach them that it is acceptable; which it isn’t.

Tips for the Demander:

  • Ignore unwanted behavior in favor of positive behaviors.  For instance, if you want your students to raise their hands for questions; then ignore the student who yells out in class and call on someone who has their hand raised.  There is usually no need to make any further statement about the negative behavior.  This will only embarrass the student who needs to change their behavior.  Students learn quickly what their teacher responds to.
  • If ignoring doesn’t work as quickly as you would like, then you can redirect in much the same way you redirect the talker; by stating the desired behavior with a “Thank You”.  For instance, if the demander is asking for help again, you can state “You must try one on your own first, thank you.”
  • When allowed, you can encourage students to ask one another for help or to look in their book for examples before asking you.