Last week, we talked about the types of paraeducators. This week we’ll talk about the types of students that can be encountered in a classroom. It does not matter if this student is a student you are assigned to keep track, all the students in any given classroom change the dynamic and levels of activity of classroom participation by all students. Some collections are great, some make you wonder if you are in the wrong profession at all.
Students are a tricky. Your job is to serve their best interests in getting the most they can possibly can in education. And yet students come with all sorts of labels, fears, and situations that can change quickly and always without warning. And all these things that come with a student: you cannot control these mitigating factors.
Types of students (in no real specific order)
Students who everyone wants to work with
Attributes: tries everything at least once, students who say “thank you”
Skills: This student has a lot, probably does not need help a lot of the time.
Struggles: Whatever is in their way, they don’t really care, and they’ll figure it out.
Best Paraeducator paring: Actually as many people as you can possible get into contact with this student. The student needs to learn to work with different people in different situations.
Students who no one wants to work with
Attributes: Tries everything to avoid or annoy adults
Skills: socially adept at refusal, can be rude sometimes, may have anxieties and cannot verbally express them
Struggles: Whatever is in their way, they don’t really care, they are not going to do it. Not for you. Not for their mother. Not for all the gold in the world. Nope. Not a chance.
Best Paraeducator paring: Most of the time, everyone thinks “Hey I’ll put the Disciplinarian” here! This is actually the worse possible pairing. The student and paraeducator are going to fight and it’s going to result with little progress. Try the Professional Pleaser because this student is good at working channels to find this student a mentor. Try the Congenial One to give the student a chance to relax and have success in at least one class. The Disorganized one is also great because then the student won’t feel alienated as much when they can identify that they have hope because they can see a slightly successful adult with similar traits. This does not mean the Disciplinarian isn’t useful in this pairing—that paraeducator can be, it’s just not the only one the student should encounter all day.
Students who need physical help
Attributes: Most likely a student with a physical disability or severe autism
Skills: Just because of the limitations, does not mean they do not know what is going on around them
Struggles: Self-care, organization, keeping track of their things, communication
Best Paraeducator paring: Information Seeker because they’re absorbing information about the classroom while they help the student, the Disciplinarian because they’re able to keep the student organized
Students who act out at specific times during the day
Attributes: throws tantrums at certain times during the day, may be absent during these times during the day
Skills: Can be an amazing student except these times during the school day.
Struggles: It doesn’t matter. It is the class material, it is the hour of the day.
Best Paraeducator paring: The Leader to weather those tough hours and take data on the situations as they unfold, the Disorganized One who can capitalize on their skills of playing life by ear, the Disinterested One to give the student time to calm down and find their way to be ready to work.
Students who want to be popular
Attributes: watches the kids who are popular and wants to be a part of that group
Skills: Depends. If successfully integrated into popular: great social skills. If still standing on the side: social skills are a struggle.
Struggles: Can lose self and ability to self-advocate when needed because they student is trying to balance their popularity against all the other parts of their needs.
Best Paraeducator paring: The Congenial One to give social skills, the Disciplinarian for organization, or the Leader to show the student what they are really good at to shine and be popular in a totally different way.
Students who are perfectionists
Attributes: Doesn’t matter what it is: it needs to be perfect
Skills: knowing the topic, the details of the rubric, how to get the ‘A’, when things are due
Struggles: When the student has been over worked, or has been absent, student gets very flustered in catching up. Expect tears.
Best Paraeducator paring: Congenial One for calming the student down, the Disinterested One for getting student to be a self-advocate
Students who need more prompting to stay on task
Attributes: This is your wiggle student or the student who looks like they’re anywhere but inside their head and body
Skills: dancing to no music, knowing what’s going on across the classroom, finding the most ways to sit in a chair in twenty seconds,
Struggles: anything that requires focus
Best Paraeducator paring: Professional Pleaser because they know how to get the student out of the classroom and off to some OT sensory breaks so they can come back and participate. The Congenial One to not draw attention to the student’s difficulty with not being able to focus, but drawing the information out of the student who may be thinking about anything else in the world.
Students who use technology
Attributes: comes with an IEP need to use technology
Skills: Varies when it comes to using the technology
Struggles: finding the best way to integrate the technology in their classes, when their class cannot use technology or power is out on their device(s), student flounders
Best Paraeducator paring: Information Seeker or leader. This person has a lot of skills to help students learn to be more decisive with their devices. It is very rare that either of these types are afraid of computers.
Students who fear being known as “smart”
Attributes: tries everything possible to not participate and may not turn work in
Skills: hiding in corners, may struggle with specific academic skills especially in reading and math, may demonstrate other strengths such as leadership or athletic ability. Can also weighed down by family “tradition” ex: my [family member] went to the tech school/didn’t graduate from high school/, they’re fine, I don’t need to do this stuff
Struggles: Whatever is in their way, they don’t really care. They aren’t doing it. When work got hard, they realized they were too far behind and they’re afraid now of the work that it will take to catch up. May not often turn work in, be absent on major turn in days,
Best Paraeducator paring: Anyone that will not argue with the student to draw out the need to avoid work, paraeducators who
Before we close this week’s blog post there are a few things we need to share today.
Next week, at least in the United States, we have our annual Thanksgiving Day. While it is probably more famous in the modern era for a story about Pilgrims from the Plymouth Colony from England working with the Native Americans during their first year after establishing a colony on what would become the East Coast of the United States, Thanksgiving is also about taking a pause in your year and taking stalk of the things that you value and reminding everyone that you are grateful for the people in your life.
At ParaEducate: we are very thankful for the support we have here online and at all our conferences.
And because next week is Thanksgiving, ParaEducate will be on hiatus until December 4th. If you are in the United States, please take the time to be with people you love and appreciate. Thank a teacher, a paraeducator, or even a student for their collaboration and working with you. Your year is not complete without them at all.
What do you think of these gross generalizations of students? Is there one missing? Do you have a question for us? Find ParaEducate online here, here, here and here. ParaEducate is company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.