Every teacher has had one: the student that knows all the answers, raises their hand to every question and has an opinion, which they share with everyone, about everything. Delightful in their responsiveness and ability to learn, they can become tiresome to students and teachers alike as they insist on taking center stage at every opportunity.
Class know-it-alls are generally very intelligent and articulate. They also, quite frequently, have a powerful drive to prove themselves, to lead and to compete. Teachers can use these traits to not only deflect the constant input of the class know-it-all but to benefit the other students in the classroom by implementing small group projects and incorporating peer tutoring within the classroom.
Small group projects are a great way for teachers to take advantage of the skills and abilities of the class know-it-all while removing them from the public eye, so to speak. Small group projects shift the class know-it-all from the attention of the entire class down to a smaller number of students. Changing assigned roles within the smaller group provides each student with the opportunity to experiment with and gain skills in different aspects of learning and interacting. Small group roles can include leader, secretary, artist, reporter, supply specialist (they go get the paper, etc used by the group), and research specialist (they are responsible for going and getting the books and other media used by the group), among others. These roles will limit the know-it-all and provide them with an opportunity to observe the way other students perform. It will also give them, along with all of the other students, the opportunity to challenge themselves in ways they might not otherwise have tried.
Peer tutoring is another great way to handle the class know-it-all to everyone’s advantage. It is important, when introducing peer tutoring to the class, to stress that each and every student has something to offer, be it an academic skill, an artistic or musical ability, or something else entirely. Generally speaking, class know-it-alls are very strong in the basic academic subjects of reading, writing and arithmetic. At the same time, classrooms are nearly always overly populated with students who are struggling in these same areas, who could benefit from one-on-one tutoring. Everyone will benefit if some basic guidelines are established when introducing peer tutoring to the class. These guidelines might include how to give the student being tutored the time to self-correct or answer the question for themselves, being patient with the person being tutored and an admonition against criticizing.
Class know-it-alls will automatically take a superior position in any classroom activity. By giving them responsibilities and unfamiliar roles, they will gain skills that they lack. They may also gain a certain level of self-control and tolerance that they previously lacked.