Teachers of Taiz Explain: “HOW TO TEACH TEENAGERS!” [Archives:1999/12/Last Page]

March 22 1999

We were eight experienced teachers gathered in a friend’s house. As usual we talked about a number of things, especially the obstacles and difficulties we teachers face at school. The topic of discussion soon zeroed in on a big issue, the headache of dealing with adolescents.
We all confessed that we do not like teaching teenagers. We came to this conclusion because of a long and miserable experience most of us had at school in teaching teenagers. We felt the majority of teachers must feel the same way.

Today, as a responsible citizen caring for his nation, I raise this vital issue because it can harmfully affect the process of learning in Yemen.
In my opinion, there are a few questions, which must be answered carefully so that we can cut down the bad consequences of such a serious problem:
1. Why do many educators opt out of teaching adolescents?
2. In what way is teaching teenagers different?
3. How should a teacher handle teenage students?

Based on my personal experience, and according to several authors who specialize in teaching, I can summarize the following points:
1. As a teacher, one should realize that teenagers undergo major psychological, mental and physical changes. These changes often affect the way they behave, thus leading to enormous problems by adult standards.
2. Remember that the attention span of teenagers is very limited and they often have ‘irrational’ priorities. Therefore, one should not spend too long on one activity. If the activity is too difficult, students may give up, and if it is too easy, they could lose interest.
3. To avoid getting the students lost and confused, one should not incorporate a lot of writing. Adolescents like talking, and they feel what they have to say is quite important.
4. Teachers must try to overcome the students’ weaknesses by creating activities that help them. Extra-curricular activities such as games, competitions, songs, stories, etc, must be included.
5. Teachers need to remember that teenagers enjoy testing out the other side, even if they are teachers. So never negotiate what you are going to do in the class. Just do it.
6. That takes me to the next point. Strike a balance between being firm and fair. However, Let me advise you to leave the impression of being strong early in the course.
7. Get to know your students and assess their inclinations. Some are shy, others are forthcoming. This is important in interacting with them, especially in public.

I feel confident that the above mentioned hints will help adolescents to react positively and may eventually build up a bond with their teachers. However, what satisfies us all is looking at the results of well-balanced, sensitive teaching, which is based on pedagogical considerations as well as an awareness of what makes teenagers tick.

By: Abdullah Saleh Al-Hashedi,