Closed Gym. Open Mats.
In class you don't just learn from the instructor, you learn from a lot of the people in class as well. Especially, the people you drill and roll with a lot. Most of the time the girls stick together, and if there are no girls, they work in with the smaller guys (if there are no smaller guys they generally stop coming!).
Today they gym was closed but the NoGi instructor was there for open mats. Jackie, my usual rolling buddy, was unexpectedly absent leaving me to fend for myself with about 5 other purple and blue belts. Luckily, I've now been training at Renzo's for 3 weeks now and I knew all of the guys there, so even though they were bigger then me, I didn't have any problems working in with them. Sometimes it can be intimidating working in with a bunch of big guys that all have 50-100 pounds on you when there is no instructor there to pair you up. I've learned, or been advised, that there are several different types of people that you may encounter when stepping onto the mats.
My fellow white belts/ lower belts: I've been told to stay away from them when going live because they lack technique and can be rough, whether intentional or not, I, on the other hand, like going against them. I find it a lot easier to practice the drills we do in class on people who have no idea what's going on before trying it on the higher belts who generally anticipate your move and stop you.
Higher belt: your typical partner that rolls with you. Hopefully they have enough consideration to use more technique then strength because they generally outweigh me. Sometimes they like to tap you out (over and over again) and other times they just like to transition from one position to another. They generally move at a slow pace that lets you see what your doing wrong so that you can learn from your mistakes. You leave your arm in the wrong place, you get an arm bar, but they let you escape it. You escape it wrong and end up in the triangle, they explain to you how to defend the triangle because you forgot... And so on. Eventually the stuff you drill sinks in.
Teachers: these are the people that will flow nice with you and actually stop to explain a certain technique or point out something your doing wrong. It's almost like a 5 minute private lesson and can be very helpful. HOWEVER, there are people that want to teach you when you just want to roll.
Badass: this is the person that shows you what a bad ass you can be if you train hard by making you tap in ways you can't even explain. This will generally continue about 3x per minute no matter what you try and happen so fast that its very hard to learn much other then how to tap effectively. The other day I heard a blue belt tap and it was then followed by, "what the hell!?!?", and I knew immediately that it had happened it him; the guy I was rolling with confirmed it. Apparently they both got caught in something that had to do with a dangling hand that resulted in a vicious choke. Rolling with this kind of person is good for practicing your defense (against all the chokes and arm bars you will probably be forced to tap out to) and if your quick you can pick up a few nasty tricks. They rarely "give" you anything, so if you do gain position, you know you earned it.