Monday: Types of Students


  Types of Students

By: Joe

{For Addi, while she is on Spring Break}

            In my time at Learning Foundations, I’ve noticed certain trends in students and student habits. Some scramble to turn in even the easiest homework, while others seem to have planned out their Nobel speech while still in Pampers. What, you ask, are these trends? Thank you for asking. It would have been awkward if you hadn’t. These trending styles have been described as the Firefighters, the Planners, and the Previewers.


fire-fighter-thLevel 1: Firefighters

Identifying Characteristics: These are students that, if they are surviving academically, it’s barely. They don’t work on projects before the zero hour, they don’t plan, and they rarely study for a test any time other than the night before. Their existence is stressful, yields results well below their capabilities, and frustrates parents, teachers, and tutors to the point where we’ve pretty much lost five years of our lives due to high blood pressure. These students are so busy running to put out fires that they rarely see the bigger picture and even rarer do they retain information in any kind of long-term way. They are reactors; school is what is happening to them and they have lost the ability to act or take control. These students see material 1-1.5 times. In my experience, this group makes up a large hunk of Middle and High school students and way too many college students.

Advice: The issue here is time, or, more specifically, the understanding of time and the setting of priorities. Sit down with your student and help them plan out their week or month. Show them visually where the assignments are due and help them create a plan to work on each in a timely manner. Set review times and consistent homework hours. If they don’t have homework, set this time aside for educational/learning activities like documentaries, Ted Talks, reading hour, brain games, etc. Get them in the habit of planning themselves and showing you their plans. It doesn’t hurt to have them put reminders in their phones; they’re modern kids and will have those suckers with them even after the zombies come.

chess-433071_640Level 2: Planners

Identifying Characteristics: These students, well, plan. They use a calendar or their phone to enter assignments, usually have fairly constant study routines, and work on projects/study for tests in small to medium sized repeating increments. They are actors and have found that through planning they can retake some control over their academic lives. These students see material about 2-2.5 times. In my experience, the percentage of these students increases with grade level.

Advice: This level isn’t as cut and dry as the previous one. Planners run the gauntlet from barely above firefighter to planning their retirement in 7th grade. It is important to review a specific student’s planning strengths and weaknesses. If they’re great at long-term projects, but terrible at day to day, focus on that, and vice versa. The key to this level is refining existing strategies until they are the most efficient. It is also important at this stage to have in depth conversations on prioritization and long-term goal planning. More on the latter in a further post (see what I did there? That’s called a teaser.)

construction-13456_640Level 3: Previewers

Identifying Characteristics: Previewers are the crème de la crème of students. They plan like level two, but to this they add previewing material. What does this mean? It means that if tomorrow’s history lecture will be on the beginning of WWII, the previewer will look up basic information the night before. This doesn’t take long—it isn’t a cram session—instead they try to create a basic framework of information into which they can drop the information from the lecture. Previewing information acts like creating an outline in your brain; you create little bullet points of general info with plenty of space underneath for detail. Since the brain is prepped with the basics, it is free the next day to file the details without having to first work out the broad picture. Previewers see material roughly 3-4 times, locking the information into long term memory at a much higher percentage than the previous two levels. In my experience, previewers are rare at even the High School level, but grow in frequency during college.

Advice: This level is tricky because not every teacher even lets the students know what will be covered the next day, which can make previewing difficult. However, most teachers will tell the student if they ask, especially if the student has a good relationship with them. Some teachers have syllabi for each class that will tell the student the chronology of the class. If not, you can extrapolate a little: if you’ve gone through the book in order, the next chapter is probably, well, next. The point here is that previewers are the annoying kids you went to class with that always seemed one step ahead of you; if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Alright, that’s all I’ve got for today. As always, if you liked this post, have comments, or have questions, please feel free to drop them into the comments section below. If not, you all have Haley’s email from last week’s post; she loves when people yell at me through her. No, really, try it.

Onward and upward for the unicorn army!

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