How to teach teenagers #2
My 100% subjective tips and tricks to enjoying teaching teens. Part 2.
7. They have hobbies too.
Something as simple as “what game did you play last weekend?”, or “what show do you recommend?” can change the dynamic of the classroom forever. We all enjoy it when someone is genuinely interested in our hobbies, which, at that age, are often the most important activities for us. Plenty of teens are tired of being ignored and misunderstood by their families and teachers as well as seeing their passions being dismissed by society. Ask them a question about the last manga they’ve read and watch that spark in their eyes glow while they’re telling you about it.
8. Don’t take it personally.
We all have good and bad days. When you’re 16 there is also a hormonal tsunami tossing you to and fro, forming and ending your first relationships, there are problems at home, with friends, bullying, the list goes on. As a teacher, you might receive a harsh look or a snarky comment here and there, and that’s normal. As long as it doesn’t happen too often - ignore it and move on, it’s highly likely that anger was not directed at you. Such situations don’t reflect on you as a teacher and are definitely not worth a struggle with anxiety.
9. Provide safe space.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph - the life of a teenager is not made of roses. Make it clear that your classroom is a safe place, and you offer counsel to those in need, or, if necessary, you are happy to discuss their issues with other students (with their permission, of course!). Remind them that they can be themselves as long as they don’t hurt others and that discrimination does not belong to this century. People of all age groups can be brutal and there is no reason that your students’ full potential should be blocked simply for fear of being mocked and bullied.
10. Use real-life content.
Of course, that applies to kids and adults as well, but teenagers are usually the ones who get bored of the textbook in the blink of an eye. They adore watching youtube, movies, random clips, playing games, and discussing controversial topics. Keep them engaged by presenting marvels of the world so they don’t feel like you being there is some sort of punishment for both you and them.
11. They smell fear.
While kids usually recognize the authority of a teacher quite quickly, teenagers seem to have a way of sniffing your levels of confidence. Grab their attention by not being afraid of (non-violently) owning the classroom. Make sure you are being seen and heard by exuding confidence.
12. Use your own experience.
We were all teenagers once. We had our dreams, fears, and passions. While theory and methodology are great, they will not replace experience. Who knows better what it means to be a teenager than an adult? Become the teacher you wanted to have when you were 15.
Teaching teens is a challenging activity but it can be the most rewarding of all. Not forcibly shaping their minds, but encouraging them to foster their critical thinking and think outside the box is how you are likely to become the teacher to remember, even if they don’t realise it yet.
Here is the second part of my blog post about teaching teens.
Missed the first part? Click here!
Teaching teenagers is not for everyone, just like teaching kids or adults, and that's ok. Being a teacher doesn’t mean you must work with all age groups and levels. In fact, after few years of professional self-discovery, it’s important to find your niche and follow that road. In the end, you are supposed to enjoy your teaching years as much as the students are supposed to enjoy the lessons.