Saturday, April 23, 2011

Student Personalities

While I was mowing this morning, I was contemplating the students in my classes and their specific motivations. In college and seminary I worked as a youth minister in two different Southern Baptist churches for three years each (one in Texas and one in North Carolina). Now that I am into my second year teaching middle school students, I am noticing many similarities between the actions and motivations of youth group members and students. Here are a few ‘types’ of students that I have noticed. For the sake of the students that I have taught, none of the names that I use will be real name.

1. Sold-Out Samantha
Samantha is the child that is always on time and able to answer any question with a logical and thoughtful answer. Samantha is not always right, but will learn, grow, and take the initiative to find out information that is difficult.
2. Questioning Quinn
Quinn is always waiting for someone to mess up. He plays the Devil’s Advocate in almost every situation and wants to exploit the exception to the rule. Quinn keeps the teacher on his/her toes and is never satisfied with black and white answers.
3. Go Along Ginny
Ginny will agree with and defend the last idea that was presented. It is easy to persuade Ginny, but she won’t stay faithful to the idea if another comes along. Ginny is fun to be around but is not very reliable. There is no investigation for Ginny; she has very few probing questions. Everything is about the answer for Ginny.
4. Tag Along Taylor
Taylor loves to be involved. He will go along with everything but will not invest in anything. Taylor will be a part of the group unless there is something more fun to do. He is always entertaining and loves to be the center of attention.
5. Filler Frank
Frank is the person that you are always forgetting their name. They do not talk much or do much but are simply a number in the room. Frank is usually day dreaming and usually has a parent or other influence making them attend.
6. Corrupter Kristine
Kristine loves to get the group off task. She takes personal responsibility to try and steer students away from productive activities. Kristine is usually a fairly popular kid who knows how to interfere just when a genuine connection with the subject matter is reached.
7. Testimony Tim
Tim rarely talks about anything except his own personal experience. Every comment (his or others) is followed by a story about when something happened to them. Only occasionally does the story stay on topic with the discussion.
8. Periodic Paul
Paul is unpredictable. He is usually well liked but rarely shows up two days in a row. Paul catches on quickly, and when he is present, joins the group like he is never gone.
9. Poor Me Patricia
Patricia usually has the hurt puppy dog look and waits for someone to ask her how she is doing or why she is sad. She feeds off of sympathy and others feeling sorry for her. Except for special cases, Patricia comes from a good home and loves to be catered to and babied. There is rarely anything substantially wrong in her life.
10. Bounce off The Walls Ben
Ben will never sit still. He is always moving and finding an excuse to leave the room during a quiet time. Ben shows up late, stays late, and is always being asked to calm down and listen. Ben asks many questions after the directions are given because he was not listening to the directions.
These are just a few thoughts I had. Students are all different and can be a combination of any of these descriptions, but thinking about these personalities leads me to thinking about each of their motivations to be that way. What is their motivation to act that way? What is their motivation to learn? What outside motivation do they have? What sort of outside support do they have for their learning and growing? I hope to answer these questions over the next few days.

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