Student Archetypes

One blog post I’ve been writing in my head for some time now is about the types of students you unfailingly see in your class year after year.  They are like sacred archetypes, reincarnated through cohorts and siblings for all of eternity.  Here are my top ten:

1. The Hypochondriac

This student is always sick/injured/thinking they have a headache. Always. He or she misses several phys. ed. and QDPA periods but might possibly be making up for it with the exercise acquired by routinely walking to the office to call home.  They  will experience pain or discomfort in every corner of their failing little body, and they will manage to allegedly sprain that spot behind their ear.  This student is also a constant hoarder of the office’s ice packs.

2. The Micro Manager 

This student is just making sure that you are aware that you are teaching a class. He or she (but let’s be honest, it’s usually she) has the timetable memorized and will let you know if you “forget” to put QDPA on the daily schedule. She will also remind you (frequently) about upcoming school events and due dates. She has the ability to raise your blood pressure by repeatedly inquiring about the status of items on your to-do list that you haven’t even had a moment to deal with yet, but the truth is that she also saves your butt on several occasions, and if it weren’t for her, class photos might never have happened.

3. The Nooner

The Nooner is permanently out to lunch.  He or she has no idea what day of the week it is, but more fascinating than that, doesn’t seem to care to.  This student never completes their homework, not because they’re lazy but because they sincerely weren’t aware they had any.  Their expression vacillates between a careless grin and a blank stare when you ask them the location of pretty much anything.  He or she did not hear you say that forms are due tomorrow, library is cancelled, or put your work in the bin when you’re done, and he or she definitely didn’t hear you explain why there’s a mistake in Question 6 and how to fix it. The Nooner is possibly your most frustrating student because their level of oblivion is so outrageous, but at the same time, you’re mostly just kind of jealous and wish you could also avoid life by living in such blissful ignorance.

4. The Menace

There is always one  King Menace, and he or she (but usually he) has the crippling power to disrupt disruptions. His main goal is to ensure that no learning is happening for anyone, at any time, under any circumstance, ever.  He is always engaging in some serious shenanigans,  but when you call him on it, his eyes will get all big and he will insist that he wasn’t doing anything! (which, if we’re talking about work, is technically true.) He is the student who, after you’ve spent ten minutes convincing your class to settle down, will reach in his bag for a pencil and pull out a diaper, much to his surprise as anyone else’s. Hilarity ensues. How his brother’s diaper ended up in his bag can only be chalked up to, because of course it did.  The most surprising fact about the Menace is that he is typically quite bright, but can’t sit still long enough to do anything about it.

5. The Scrutinizer

At any given time, this student is pretty sure that what you’ve just said is inaccurate.  He or she will attempt to find an exception or loophole for everything you say.  The Scrutinizer will verify all of your math calculations and ruthlessly point out your errors.  They will also be first to inform you if you made a typo in that word.  The Scrutinizer will inevitably become that person who feels it’s their societal duty to correct everyone’s grammar in the comments section.

6. The Role Model

This student makes you feel like you could probably be a better person. They really have their shit together. He or she completes the homework you briefly mentioned but forgot to officially assign, making you feel guilty because you don’t even really want it anymore.  He or she can be counted on to take money to the office, deliver an accurate message to another teacher, or supervise the class while you run to the photocopy room for the handouts you forgot. (The Role Model wouldn’t have forgotten.)  He or she will work with anyone and is courteous and cooperative.  They never complain or roll an eye, even when you know your lesson is just terrible.  This student gets all E’s on their learning skills, and their next step is to take on a leadership role by becoming your new mentor.

7. The Silent Asian

This is by no means intended to be a stereotype, but more of a field observation after a few good years on the job.  I can think of at least six years out of my eight during which I’ve had a Silent Asian student. This student would prefer to say as little as possible, at least to you.  He or she is hearing absolutely everything you’re saying, but you almost forget they are in your class until they ace a unit test. You never know what this student is thinking and you’re always slightly worried about making them feel uncomfortable with your extroverted ways.  They are mysterious and aloof and often full of surprises.  One year it turned out that my Silent Asian student was using a lot of F-bombs on Facebook and some parents got upset.  I definitely thought that was hilarious.

8. The Time Bomb

This student can be recognized by the slow motion crumpling of their face anytime things get mildly tense.  He or she is an emotional explosion waiting to happen. What sets off the Time Bomb is anyone’s guess.  It could be a stolen pencil or the accusation of stealing a pencil.  The Time Bomb has literally zero coping skills and causes you to heave the heaviest of sighs.  They cry so often that no one even looks up from their paper when it starts.  I’m pretty sure I was a Time Bomb.

9. The Awesome Nerd

This student is super nerdy and it’s awesome. They are indifferent to the opinions of others and totally embrace their weirdness. You wish you could make them promise to never change, even when society tries its best to claw out their individuality.  This student always has a unique perspective and interesting things to say, and you almost wish you could continue conversations with them over coffee (…almost.) They wear cool t-shirts and have rad hair.  Today my Awesome Nerd had Sponge Bob figurines clipped to his glasses (why? not sure) while he explained to  everyone that he just realized that there can be no one definition of beauty because everyone sees the world  so differently. He’s eleven. Like I said – awesome.

10. The Pig Pen

The Pig Pen is named after that Peanuts character who walks around in a permanent cloud of debris.  Their desk looks like it was just burglarized and it might as well have been because they can never locate any of their possessions.  The Pig Pen has piles and wads of loose leaf paper in every cranny of their soul, along with broken pencil crayons, Tupperware lids, and juice-stained permission forms.  He or she is constantly crafting something that involves cutting paper into a million tiny pieces and getting marker all over their desk and face.  There are probably three moldy sandwiches and some fruit turning into wine in their desk but you don’t dare go in to find out.  You spend a significant amount of your time trying to get the Pig Pen to put away their handouts/ pick up their orange peels/ locate the caps to the markers/ find a pencil, ANY pencil.  The deadliest of combos is a Pig Pen Nooner.  If you come across one of them, switch careers.








13 thoughts on “Student Archetypes

  1. Seriously Kate, I haven’t laughed out loud like this in a long time! Your observations are hilarious and accurate and dark and witty all at once! Write on, brilliant one.


  2. Wow. Way to perpetuate gender and cultural stereotypes – and in all likelihood actually grow these in your classroom. This is not a “breath of fresh air”, merely a narrow minded assessment of people you have not attempted to understand beyond the stereotypes you have boxed them into.


  3. As an educator do you not have a responsibility to be better than blindly ascribing cultural and gender stereotypes? Don’t all students deserve a teacher who can take feedback and become a culturally-savvy role model?

    Maybe not.


    1. From the over 24 000 shares of the site, I think most educators just need a laugh. It’s no different than comedians who base their jokes on stereotypes. Just trying to have fun with what is at most times a serious job.


      1. Racist and sexist comedians are hardly a model, nor are they in the power position of a teacher. Laughing at the expense of others is bullying.


  4. I never comment on blogs. I think yours is a humorous and refreshing look at teaching. However, the real reason I’m commenting is to tell ‘SC’ to go fuck her or himself. I just felt bad that no one else had defended you. Not that you needed defending, as you were doing a magnificent job. I just wanted you to feel like someone’s got your back. Sometimes we need that. In life, and especially in teaching. Cheers.


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