Common Misconceptions about Teaching Teenagers: Many high school teachers, particularly those that are just starting out in their teaching careers, harbor a sense of vulnerability or insecurity about the idea of teaching teenagers. Some will even argue that they’re an especially challenging and stressful age group to teach.
Teenagers are frequently maligned not only by teachers, but other adults in their lives for their difficult attitudes and behavior. But educators would do well to consider the potential damage of subscribing to such stereotypes.
Students who feel preemptively judged by their teachers will only live up to these adults’ expectations of them, becoming demotivated, demoralized, and even uncooperative at school.
In a similar vein, teachers who enter the classroom with too many harmful preconceived notions about their students will likely miss out on or fail to maximize valuable learning opportunities. Thus, it’s imperative for educators to examine the myths and misconceptions about teenagers that they might subscribe to and to work on eliminating these harmful beliefs from their teaching practice.
Whether you teach at a high school in Singapore’s for international students, a government-run school, or some other educational institution, treating your students with warmth and respect will usually encourage them to repay it in kind.
4 Common Misconceptions about Teaching Teenagers:
You’ll get off to a good start by letting go of the following misconceptions that many teachers tend to have about their teenage students:
While adults can be quick to accuse teenagers of laziness, the problem is often that the environment these young people are in does little to encourage their curiosity, interest, or motivation. Many teenagers may also have a hard time applying themselves at school because they’re overburdened with responsibilities at home, at their extracurricular clubs, in their communities, or in other areas of their lives.
Current studies also show that there’s an unprecedented number of teens struggling with mental health problems, but who find it difficult to get the help they need—or even to gather the courage to seek help in the first place.
The point is that assuming students are lazy is generally not a viable way to drive academic achievement in your class. Remember that sitting in classrooms for the better part of each day can be draining for anyone.
While it might seem like more work for you, incorporating more creative or engaging activities into your teaching can help motivate your students to work harder in your classes. Reaching out to students that seem especially distressed, withdrawn, or unmotivated is also a good way to catch and address mental health issues.
They’re Aren’t Interested in Learning
Related to the above, most teenagers will apply themselves enthusiastically to learning materials that are interesting and relevant to them. Seemingly arbitrary facts and figures or scientific formulas with no apparent practical purpose beyond upcoming exams are unlikely to arouse this interest on their own.
Teachers need to communicate the value of the information they’re imparting to their students instead of insisting they learn it just because they have to. It’s also important for teachers to guarantee that their required readings, lectures, and other learning materials are up-to-date. This helps ensure that the information they share in the classroom isn’t just factually correct, but also more likely to be relevant to their students’ lives.
Showing your own enthusiasm and love for your subject matter is one great way to get your students interested in it. When you present learning as a joyful experience instead of overfocusing on academic achievement, your students will probably respond positively to your teaching. Teenagers who are actively encouraged to love learning are much more likely to perform better in school than those who are under constant, overt pressure to make good grades.
They’re Overdependent on Technology
Today’s teenagers are digital natives who no longer remember a world without the internet, computers, or mobile devices. While teens’ attachment to technology is worrying to many adults, it’s important to remember the more positive aspects of this phenomenon.
Tech-savvy teens use technology to find solutions for pressing problems and to adapt to everyday challenges, such as the mobility and socialization restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. They can, and often do, use the internet to learn new skills, educate themselves on topics that interest them, and connect with other people.
With this in mind, there’s no harm in incorporating technology into your classes where relevant, such as by teaching students how to do high-quality internet research or having them complete classwork digitally. Balance this out by creating opportunities for more kinesthetic learning.
Play games that require them to move around the classroom, introduce projects they must make by hand, or take them on a trip to a location that’s relevant to your subject area. Lean into your own creativity and you’ll surely be able to maximize technology’s benefits while also providing a well-rounded learning experience.
Contrary to popular belief, today’s teenagers are much more informed and passionate about social issues than the youth of generations past. They’re frequently leading the charge on important movements, including environmental responsibility, mental health, and racial justice.
You can tap into this passion, energy, and idealism by asking your students directly about what they currently care about and what they advocate for. If the causes they mention have a connection to your subject area, however faint, it might be fruitful to explore them together.
The idea of engaging with your teenage students might seem intimidating, but approach them with goodwill and an open mind and they’ll surely surprise you. Once you overcome the initial challenges, you may just find yourself learning from them and growing exponentially in your own teaching practice.
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