Ten lesser-known student archetypes every elementary teacher will recognize.
If you’ve seen any movies set in an American school, you are already quite familiar with the stock characters that populate them. The nerd, the queen bee, the punk, the jock, and the weirdo–yeah, that would be the cast of the Breakfast Club. Spend a few years teaching, however, and you’ll come to realize that there are more than those five student archetypes, but they are as predictable as an episode of Saved by the Bell. Here, in no particular order:
1. The Limper
This kid is athletic…ish. He likes to play, and he likes to play HARD. At least once a week, he doesn’t come back from recess because he’s in the office getting a band-aid or ice. And when he does come back, it’s with a noticeable limp. Because he got hit. You know, down there. How, exactly, is this kid such a magnet for errant footballs and misplaced kicks?
At least in 30 years, he’ll be making his debut as a Dad Getting Hit in the Crotch on America’s Funniest Home Videos.
2. The Town Crier
Everyone is on task. The class is unusually quiet. It’s…a little TOO quiet. Suddenly, a piercing wail cuts through the silence like a foghorn in the night. You’ve met kids that cry (a lot) before, but the heaving sobs of The Town Crier put her in a class of her own. The slightest glance in her direction can send her into racking sobs, and you can track her down anywhere on the playground based on sound alone. When you finally reach her and ask what happened this time, she gasps for air and manages to sputter between wails, “HEEEEEE HUUUUUURT MY FEEEEEELINGS!”
3. The Leaky Backpack
Like Hansel and Gretel foolishly leaving a trail of breadcrumbs in their wake, you can always tell where this kid has been because disaster inevitably follows. Track the trail of homework and important papers from classroom to pick up zone! No matter how carefully you have explained that THIS NEEDS TO GO HOME TODAY, IT GOES STRAIGHT FROM YOUR BACKPACK AND INTO YOUR MOM’S HANDS, you will eventually find that paperwork rolling around the deserted hallway after school like a tumbleweed in a ghost town.
The poor little guy. You tried to help.
4. The Stealth Weirdo
Sure, she looks like she has her metaphorical S together. She comes to school neatly dressed and with her hair elaborately done. She gets good grades and usually knows the answer…until you have an assembly. Suddenly, your entire routine is thrown off! And when the cheese slides off this one’s cracker, there’s no getting it back. Soon she’s picking at her clothes and forgetting things she knew yesterday. She’s singing in the classroom and rolling on the floor. When the last bell of the day rings, she’s back to the doll you remember. But now you know…the potential for weirdness that lurks within.
5. The Hoarder
How does this kid have any possessions left at home? They all seem to be in her desk. Why does she need three complete sets of markers? Two Hello Kitty pencil boxes? When will her mom stop buying her new hair accessories? When will she ask where her sweaters have gone? THEY ALL DISAPPEAR INTO THE VORTEX THAT IS HER DESK. In fact, there is so much junk in there, she has lost track of things like…the snack she saved for later. And guess who finds that snack three months later, when it is an unrecognizable ball of mold? Nope, not your little friend. You want to leave it in her desk for her to find, but then you wonder if that’s a health hazard.
6. The Wile E. Coyote
We all remember the tattletale. That little brown-noser who couldn’t mind his own business. Perhaps less memorable is the kid whose tattling backfires on him EVERY. DAMN. TIME. This kid just can’t let the slightest injustice go unnoticed, even when it reveals that he was doing something he wasn’t supposed to do. Which is usually worse than what he was originally tattling about. And the worst part? He never learns!
7. The Dumpster Diver
This kid lives by the motto “one teacher’s trash is another student’s treasure.” He will pick through your discarded dry-erase markers, broken paperclips, and empty Starbucks cups. He will fashion the most elaborate weapons of mass distraction your class has ever seen. And you’re at a loss, because if you put the crap he picked out back in the garbage where it belongs, guess who is going to skim it out again? THAT’S RIGHT.
8. The Ghost
You’re pretty sure this kid is still in your class, even if he only shows up once a week. On days that he does show up, he’ll get pulled out early so often that when the classroom phone rings, someone will call out, “YOU’RE GOING HOME!” The scratch paper pile in your class is made up primarily of things you have copied for him that he wasn’t there to get. You have lost count of how many times you’ve said to the parents, “He could be making more progress if he were at school all the time,” followed by an awkward silence.
9. The “Helpful” Thief
Even when EVERYONE HAS THE SAME SUPPLIES, this little one just can’t keep her hands out of other people’s desks. There’s just something so satisfying about using a pencil that doesn’t belong to her. Or stealing things she has no use for, like the directions book for a benchmark assessment that doesn’t even have answers. In the (regular) event that something in the classroom goes missing and you mention it to her, she will suddenly “remember” seeing it in that one “random corner” of the classroom that nobody ever goes to. After much ado, she will produce the missing object from somewhere that was DEFINITELY NOT her pocket.
10. Booger Boy
Sometimes Booger Boy is Booger Girl, but his/her reputation precedes her. Even when you’ve caught every kid picking their nose in class at some point, somehow this kid becomes the scapegoat every time there is a booger on something. And all you can do is give him some more hand sanitizer, because somehow he manages to get his fingers in there all the way up to the knuckle.
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