I have been both an instructor and student in many classes in my job over the years. Most of my training has involved some type of software class which almost turns my brain to mush by the end of the class. Unfortunately, I am not one who catches on as quickly as some folks do but it eventually connects. I process things in my own way and my own speed.
In my experience and hundreds of hours in a classroom I can tell you that although each class is different and students change there are always the same types of personalities in each class. Here are some of the common ones:
The Smartest Person in the Room
First, there is the person who wants to be the smartest person in the room. When they ask questions, they aren’t asking because they don’t know the answer, they are asking so they can demonstrate how smart they are. I even heard this type of student actually ask “may I ask a self-serving question?” That’s a pretty good indicator on who this type is in the class. There’s a saying that goes “it’s not bragging if nobody cares”. Same thought goes for that person or persons who want to be the smartest person in the room.
The Frequent Question Asker
Then you have the person that starts their question with: “Can I ask a quick question?” This student is usually going to be the frequent question asker and rarely will it ever be a “quick” question and most likely be the same person who asks questions to challenge the instructor. They will ask questions or make comments to challenge the instructor’s knowledge of the subject matter they are teaching.
The Dumb Questioner
This thing they say sometimes about there is never a dumb question…yes there is and there will be some. They are often the ones who get totally off the subject.
The Smart Ass/Class Clown
In every class there will be the smartass or class clown whose intent is to make everything a joke. Yes, this still happens even with adults. I wonder if these types are trying to relive their high school days.
So where do I fit in the classroom? I can tell you that I am not one to ask questions unless it really presses on me to do so. Usually one of the other personalities will ask the question that’s on my mind anyway so I will just hold my tongue to see if that happens (and it usually does).
When I was an instructor, these classes wore me down both physically and emotionally. In one class, I had a student sitting in the front row that really made my job difficult. He tried to tell me how to teach the class and was pretty much a combination of all of the personalities I have listed. This student totally distracted me and when I reported him to the people in charge of the course, they wouldn’t do anything or say anything to the student because “that’s the way he is”. I never liked that excuse. Shortly afterwards, I stopped volunteering to be an instructor completely. I didn’t get anymore pay for doing it and I certainly didn’t need the added to my stress.
One thing that often annoys me is when students are late for the class and the instructor waits for them before starting. We are grown ups and should be responsible enough to be on time. One or two people shouldn’t make everyone else wait. Maybe that’s my military background but I don’t think you should enable bad behavior of a few to punish those who obey the rules.
I’m in another class this week and I see the same behaviors and personality types. People are funny. I’m sure I have my own eccentric ways. I guess I’m the quiet one who rarely asks questions which probably makes the instructor wonder if I’m getting it or if I’m spending the time daydreaming. Right now I’m looking at the lunch menu and thinking about my options.
In reality, I try to look at these other personalities from another view. There may some deep rooted insecurities or lack of confidence. Actually some people who feel inferior try to project an image as some defense mechanism. I suppose this is a reason for their behavior but I don’t think it should excuse their behavior – especially if they are being condescending to others. That’s never okay as far as I am concerned. We should respect everyone’s opportunity to learn without the silly dramatics.
No self-serving questions allowed.