Anatomy of an Average Classroom

Since coming to Paraguay I’ve done a lot of teaching. I passed 100 classes a while ago. Though 100 is a humble number for a professional teacher, it’s a huge feat for me, as someone who never thought I’d teach (officially) in a school. Trying to teach 32 8th graders—or 20 unruly 11th graders—has given me a new appreciation for my teachers from 1st through 12th grade. I do sincerely believe anyone who teaches 8th grade for more than a couple of years should be sainted.

I think I get better with every class I teach, but who am I to judge? However, I am certain of one thing: Classes have personalities just like people do. The personality of a class depends on the parts and their ratio. Here’s my summary of the average class’ anatomy.

  • Front Center: Type A’s. They want to help. They want to participate, and they help control the other students.

  • Front Side: Students that come off as type A’s, but on second glance are just good at hiding their distraction. They’re interest and will participate, but it’s easy to lose them.

  • Middle Center: Reserved, quiet types. They are probably paying attention, but it’s hard to know because they’re almost always too shy to participate.

  • Middle Side: Students that are quiet and slightly distracted—typical cell phone users. It’s questionable as to whether or not they are paying attention.

  • Back Corner: Rabble rousers. They talk over the teacher and their classmates. They run around the classroom. They throw things at each other. They will participate, but their participation comes at a high cost.

  • Back Center: Aggressively abstinent. They will not participate no matter what. They won’t speak in class. They won’t do individual work. They don’t contribute when there is group work.