Teaching is a vocation. It’s not for anybody. It’s true. Not only is compensation often low, you often do things beyond what’s required of your job.
There are different skills needed for teaching different age groups. If you’ve been teaching teenagers for some time now and yet you feel like it’s not enough that they pass their SATs, start thinking beyond your classroom.
Teenaged students are at a phase in their lives when they are prone to be rebellious and are at odds with almost everyone in their families. At this age, they need most guidance outside their homes. Expect that wouldn’t just be teaching them a subject. As an authority figure that’s not a family member, they could turn to you for guidance especially if their relationships at home are not ideal.
It’s not overstepping your professional boundaries. It’s part of an educator’s work to help students learn better. You could be dedicated enough that you would want to make sure that their homes are conducive for learning. It’s normal to become a coach, a sounding board, a mentor. There might be even times you will need to bring to a medical specialist when they acquire a disease, like STDs, and they are scared of revealing it to their parents. You might also even have to recommend a good family lawyer when conflicts at a student’s home have turned into legal battles. It’s no wonder why teachers are among the unsung heroes of today.
Of course, not all students are under extraordinary circumstances. More often, they would just be fired up with raging hormones, overflowing energies, and the excitement for life. Here are regular things you could do to help them get through this phase and become responsible adults.
Encourage them to develop a constructive hobby.
For teenagers who have so much energy or who feel like they have all the time in the world with nothing to do, guide them on how to expend this energy or time constructively. Reading books is one of the best hobbies they could acquire, but not all have this aptitude. Rather, they could take up something that gets them moving.
Maybe they’d want to learn how to do jazz dancing, hip-hop, or even professional ballroom dancing. You could recommend several movies showing the transformation of characters, like Step Up and Dirty Dancing, that are attractive to the youth. Engaging in music is also popular among teenagers. They’re into bands and signers, and maybe some of them are secretly dreaming of writing songs.
You could compile free workshops, youth camps, and other opportunities your students could engage in outside of their studies. If you could find sponsors, you could give incentives to those who will perform well in class.
Introduce fun ways of learning.
There was a decade when Dead Poets Society had been a popular movie for the untraditional ways an English teacher encouraged his students to study literature. John Keating, the teacher, became the hero of so many teachers who couldn’t get their students interested to read a single poem, much more study the classics.
As long as it doesn’t go against your school’s rules, you can organize activities that would make learning fun. For example, on-the-spot trivia or spontaneous class competitions could motivate students to study instead of threatening them with oral recitations or surprise quizzes.
Encourage them to join an acting class to build self-confidence.
Acting could be terrifying especially for those who are very shy they dread every time they are called in class. But those who went into a transformative experience through acting encourage most of those who are shy to get into it as it offers several psychological benefits. This might also be why community theater is one of the most popular programs for out of school youth to improve their lives.
Teenagers are very self-conscious. Bullying, image-construction, and insecurities are at a high during the teenage years. Insecure teenagers feel like they want to be something other than themselves. Some escape into fantasies. Theater is a constructive way of doing these. They get to play someone else’s life, live a life different from their own.
But at the same time, acting workshops allow actors to delve into their lives to dig up emotions they would need when acting. In all these processes, they would get to know themselves deeper and be at peace with who they are.
There are other things you could explore to reach out to your students. As this is also the phase when they would want to experience everything and they are attracted to vices, give them options that are equally attractive but are constructive and helpful in their lives.