I was traveling from Delhi to Haldwani when I met some teenage children traveling to Nainital for an educational trip with their teachers. The energy levels that I noticed, the fun they were having, relationships they were enjoying with their teachers made me ponder if Adolescent stage is full of challenges or pleasures or both. I interacted with their teachers to understand their feelings.
Why is teaching teenagers such a challenge for most teachers? Adolescents are often seen as problem students, but with their great ability for abstract thinking and enthusiastic commitment doing something while being engaged, ‘teens may well be the most exciting students of all’ (Harmer J. We need to change our attitude. Instead of calling them Problem children, we can say this is a stage where they face some problems or challenges & so we find a challenge handling them. Our role as teachers is to understand the developmental characteristics of their age and to provide them with tasks and activities that will be interesting, motivating and effective.
|Teenagers have a greater learning potential than young children, but they are much more difficult to motivate and manage.
Creating a positive learning environment in which adolescents feel happy, secure, valued and motivated to learn can be incredibly difficult.
According to Worgan M., the reasons for this are many:
Teenagers are going through a lot of physical and emotional changes, including changes in their brains; if they come to class, it may be because that is the place where the rest of their friends are; they have a strong need for peer approval and this can have a very negative effect during a lesson;
Teens search for identity and they have a need for self-esteem; adolescents need to feel valued and good about themselves.
Teacher has tofind the correct balance between respect and authority for a rewarding experience.
The key to good teaching, then, is to find out what gets the students’ attention and use it to help them learn.
TIPS FOR TEACHING TEENS
1. The First few days: The first few days are crucial to the way the course will run. This is the time when the students will make unconscious decisions about what kind of teacher you are and it is essential to let them know that, while you may be relaxed and friendly, you will not accept any nonsense. Make sure they are conscious of the amount of work they will be doing both in and out of class if they want to reach their objectives (pass a course or an exam etc.). Students should be made to understand theory of No Pain, No Gain. Pain& hard-work is their way & there is no way escaping it. They can either suffer the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. Teenagers need motivation. Building relation with students is must before starting to teach. An informal chit chat outside the class-room helps. We need to talk about their interest, hobbies etc to reach their wave length while teaching.
2. Being strict but Fair: Research has shown that firm but fair teachers are preferred by this age group. Many times teachers are tempted to treat a group of sixteen year- olds as adults, but the fact is that emotionally they are not. If you talk to them as if they were your friends or peers, they will often use this as an excuse not to study or do as you ask. At the end of the day, most teenagers don’t have the maturity to choose learning over fun and games and it will be much more difficult to get them to put in the required effort. However, this doesn’t mean that teachers have to be strict all the time! Students should be rewarded when they work hard and rewards such as games and other fun activities, can be a great incentive to get the task done.
Transmitting the idea that you are in control of the class, is something teenagers consider as a qualification of a good teacher. Your shouting or making them stand out will not solve the problem but will give them a message that you are unable to control them. Having good relations with them, motivating them, respecting them & engaging them is the way to handle them.
3. Short-Term goals: For the teacher, the school year may fly by, but for the average fifteen-year-old, though, a year can be a very long time. Set them regular, achievable goals in order to keep motivation as high as possible, and discuss and negotiate these goals with your students keeping them involved.
4. Motivation: Worgan M. mentions that one of the questions teachers of teenagers constantly ask is “How can I motivate them? They aren’t interested in anything!” They usually don’t like the books and the topics in them. If you ask teenagers what topics they would like to cover in class they, usually, don’t know or will come up with just a few. Even if you bring in materials about their interests they will most probably show very little enthusiasm. The problem is not the actual topic of the lesson, but the type of activities involved.
|Find fun ways to exploit the materials they already have in their course books.
5. Humour: A good laugh now and again can motivate teenagers to want to come to class. Make up stories or ask them to help you solve a problem or to introduce a grammar point that they actually know. Thiswill give them an opportunity for involvement.They will be much happier about working when they notice the teacher is prepared to tell a story or joke. As a follow-up activity..after lesson you can ask them to share similar problems they have or have had and their peers should suggest solutions. Teenagers will be eager to participate.
|Most teenagers like to talk about themselves, what they think, what they don’t like and are quite emotional; so, teachers must be creative and organize activities like sharing journal entries or writing articles for a magazine that students have created themselves. This allows students to express themselves freely and talk about a topic they are interested in: their own ideas.
RESOURCES A TEACHER SHOULD USE
When Teaching Teenagers Piccolo suggests resources which help put teaching methods into use, through appropriate and adapted activities. Group Work, Role-plays, Music activities, Competitive games interest teens.
NOT QUITE-YET-ADULTS AND NOT-STILL-CHILDREN IS A DIFFICULT THING TO BE. The average teenager is an inquisitive contrast of innocence and worldliness and has a thirst for knowledge that is endless, in spite of the fact that their interests, emotions and frustrations vary enormously. A teacher who understands the characteristics of a teenage learner, effective teaching methods and the resources to put those methods into practice, is a teacher who will motivate and challenge a teenage class to learn with interest.
Harmer, J. explains that our job, therefore, must be to provoke student engagement with material which is relevant and involving. At the same time, we need to do what we can to increase our students’ self-esteem and be, always, conscious of their need for identity.
GIVE THEM MORE CONTROL….Give choices
It’s also good to let the students have more control. Give them a few options about which activity to do, or how to do it. Ask them what their favourite games are in their other lessons or if there’s anything they want to play. You will likely have to reject a few of them, but they’ll appreciate the freedom. You can also use this as a reward for cooperating with other activities.
Also when it comes to things like classroom management, you can consider letting them have a say in seating arrangements. Avoid Confrontational statements, accusation statements with them. Appreciate them in front of all But don’t insult them in class. Positive attitude of a teacher, Body Language of the Teacher &other personality traits of the teachers make a difference.