It always intrigues me to find that class dynamics are essentially the same, regardless of grade level or school. We have kids who typically fall into one of four categories.

The first is the big footprint. This is usually a boy but occasionally I have a girl who is dominant and assertive. Big Footprint tells me how to manage the class, when we do what and who the transgressors usually are.

Secondly, we have the bouncers. These are the kids who can’t stay in their seats, on task or in compliance. They demand attention (positive or negative – it doesn’t matter), make noise and usually drag others along with them.

Next, we have the timids. These are most often girls and they seek eye contact, confirmation that they are doing well and recognition that they are attentive students.  Timids never, ever cause disturbance or conflict, with each other or with me.

Finally, we have the helpers. These are kids of either gender who thrive on providing assistance, requested or not. They bargain to take attendance to the office, report on those who break the rules and make certain that I know their names.

While I always treat my students with respect and individual attention, I never assume that they belong to one category or another. They have the option to change their allegiances and behavior as they get to know me better.

Every now and then is a child who fits none of these broad classifications. Such was the case with one young man who brightened and embellished my day. Early in our day, he expressed frustration with reading and I enabled him to do something less challenging and more fun.

From that moment, he never wandered more than ten feet from me. He hugged me at least fifteen times, each time communicating his feelings.

While it may be entertaining or useful to observe group dynamics, the value ends there. Ultimately, all of my teaching highlights involve exercising my heart and not my brain. Shalom.

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