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Many people can have problems with teenagers when teaching. Here are some guidelines for a general attitude you can adopt in the classroom.
- Adopt a relaxed, informal posture the first time they are likely to see you, e.g. leaning against a table. Try to avoid standing rigidly or scrutinising the audience. This demonstrates clearly to your audience that you feel insecure before them.
- Teenagers do not care as much about what you think as what their peers think of them. Do not belittle them in front of their peers.
- Do not try to be 'one of them'. You are the adult and they need to know that you are secure being you. They will need you to help them to sort out their friendships, tolerance and other problems with their peers. They want to know that you will listen to them. They want to know that, whatever goes wrong one day, that you will start afresh the next. That every day is a renewed opportunity to be considered a pleasant human being again and to try again to live up to your expectations.
- Enjoy their sense of humour and treat them like interesting, stimulating beings.
- Give public praise for good behaviour and quiet, individual correction.
- Use popular ringleaders as group leaders and you will reap wonderful rewards.
- Whenever possible, base your teaching around group activities. Give clear instructions and let them get on with it, removing the focus from yourself as soon as this is not strictly necessary.
- Try to channel their energies as opposed to squashing them to replace theirs with yours.