This is the student that looks at you with the “what information could you possibly have for me that I don’t already know?” look. No matter how many times you may look her straight in the eye and tell her something, she seems to never change her ways. She continues to do it her own way, sometimes at the unfortunate expense of an injury.
The Know-It-All tends to always want to show that she knows everything. She will often be the one to raise her hand when a question is asked, or, if others raise their hands, will just blurt out the answer loudly so that the teacher (and everyone else) knows that she knows! This can be problematic in your classroom because the others may start to feel that they can also treat you that way. Or, they may see how often she answers and 1) never answer themselves or 2) become jealous of how “smart” she is.
When receiving correction, the Know-It-All will quietly listen to what you have to say, but you may find that she rarely takes your correction seriously. Sometimes this is because she feels that she knows what is best and doesn’t want to listen, other times it’s simply that she doesn’t want others to think that she could possibly be wrong about something. Pride kicks in and prevents her from progressing.
Because of her lack of ability to take correction, she is subjecting herself to a greater risk of injury. Despite your pleas to do something a certain way, she may find that her way is better and fall flat on her face because of it! Be aware that she may do this and remind her that, “That step isn’t done that way. Perhaps you shouldn’t do that step until you can perform it correctly.”
I have had more than one student like this. One good thing that can come of the Know-It-All is that she can actually turn out to be one of your best students. There will be challenges, but there can also be great advantages. At a certain point, she may decide to actually let the knowledge and your corrections sink in. At that point, she may turn into one of your star students.
Her energy, enthusiasm and hunger to know more and do her best could rub off on the other students. She is a natural leader, and those who need someone to follow will look to her because her confidence is through the roof! She will push herself to do well, do it right and never give up, and those are things you’d like to see your whole class get better at doing.
Giving a little extra attention to the leader of the class will be a good time investment for you. The others will mimic her attitudes.
How Can I Help the Know-It-All?
It’s ok to allow her to answer the question every once in a while. To make things fair, and to keep her from always answering, sometimes it’s best to say something like, “Anna knows. Does anybody else know?”. It is also a good idea to make it perfectly clear that she may not yell out the answer over everyone else.
Some of your Know-It-Alls will take at least one very firm verbal correction before they tone things down and begin to submit to you. Their behavior always comes from somewhere, usually a situation at home or at school, but you have to make it clear that it is not permitted in your classroom. Usually, with most students, this discussion is only necessary once, and that should help them to get the picture.
Do not let her brag or make others feel small. She needs to be gently brought down, and warned against doing things the wrong way. If she is making herself bigger than the others, she is damaging her relationship with her peers, which is something that needs to be stopped immediately. The ballet classroom needs to be a safe place for every student, and there are students who can feel almost “bullied” by the Know-It-Alls.
This “know-it-all” characteristic shows up a lot in the 7-10 year age bracket since facts, history and knowledge become so important to them in that stage of development (see teaching notes in the Level 4 Curriculum Book). It can continue, but will show up in different ways as they get older.
Teaching this student a little bit of humility will help her to tone it down, and perhaps she will carry this lesson into her world outside the classroom as well. She could end up being a great student to push since she has proven to absorb so much of what you tell her. Just as long as she can live with not knowing sometimes.
Read about the other personalities . . .
DISCLAIMER: Not all students can be categorized in this way. It is not my intention to box anyone in to a certain personality type, and not all the advice I give in this article will work on every student. Each one is made up of a different blend of personalities and will respond differently the advice given here.