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  1. #1
    Helipacter is offline Newbie
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    Teaching Unresponsive Teens

    Hi,

    I've been teaching for 2 years now, and I feel that I'm getting to grips with the principles of teaching - class discipline is no longer a problem and things generally go to plan!

    Good news! Not really, I have one group that I really struggle with - I had them last year, and they're continuing with us this year. It's a group of 13/14 year olds and they're all at the "awkward" age.

    I've spoken with my boss about specific teaching techniques for them, and he's advised that I should try and steer clear of any task that is without a structure, as they never really want to open their mouth and give an opinion. So I've followed this up with Role Plays; reading from comprehension texts, getting each of them to query the other with questions from the books etc... but nothing really gives. Games can help them a bit, but they're getting towards the intermediate level now and so it's writing that is the biggest concern.

    If a question is asked, they all look at each other and you enter the zone where the seconds creak by and one of them will finally come up with a bare-minimum answer. Try to get them to expand upon it, and they blush and stick their head down and wait for something to end their pain.

    Can anyone give some more advice regarding teens in the "awkward" stage? I'm fully aware that it's the approach I'm taking with them, and not a problem of theirs, so any advice would be fantastic.

    Thanks very much!
    Last edited by Helipacter; 27-Oct-2010 at 12:53.

  2. #2
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Teaching Unresponsive Teens

    You write: "I'm fully aware that it's the approach I'm taking with them, and not a problem of theirs"

    Don't be too hard on yourself. The reason I am giving you no advice is that one of the reasons I stopped teaching in 11-16 schools in the UK to return to TEFL was that, after 32 years in the classroom, I still had problems with some children in that age range. I regret to inform you that even if you receive some helpful advice from other teachers, it may not work for you.

    13/14 year-olds can be ... (I shall not complete that, because some moderator would only have to delete the expressions I would use.)

  3. #3
    Helipacter is offline Newbie
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    Re: Teaching Unresponsive Teens

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    You write: "I'm fully aware that it's the approach I'm taking with them, and not a problem of theirs"

    Don't be too hard on yourself. The reason I am giving you no advice is that one of the reasons I stopped teaching in 11-16 schools in the UK to return to TEFL was that, after 32 years in the classroom, I still had problems with some children in that age range. I regret to inform you that even if you receive some helpful advice from other teachers, it may not work for you.

    13/14 year-olds can be ... (I shall not complete that, because some moderator would only have to delete the expressions I would use.)
    Hahahaha! There are many words to complete that sentence!!!

    My boss has been fantastic with regards to helping me. And I've used the structured techniques that he has suggested, but they still barely seem to crack the awkwardness that permeates the classroom. Sometimes the class stalls because of lack of interaction, so I try to fire them up with something like an 5min icebreaker, but this only animates them for the 5mins.

    I had the class yesterday, and it went pretty well... but there's no real dynamic there. Which is unfortunate!

    Give me a class of 10-12/16-18 year olds any day!!!

  4. #4
    5jj's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching Unresponsive Teens

    Quote Originally Posted by Helipacter View Post

    Give me a class of 10-12/16-18 year olds any day!!!
    Me too. When you get depressed by your 'failure' with the 13/14-year-old **##!!#**s, just remember the first words of my last post: "Don't be too hard on yourself." You are not alone.

  5. #5
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    youandcorey is offline Junior Member
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    Re: Teaching Unresponsive Teens

    I recommend structuring many short 5-10 minute style activates into your teaching plan.

    I suggest that when you want your students to engage in a short role-play or reading active that you have them stand up. After they've finished (and reversed roles) they can sit down. You'll hear them speaking much more quickly and loudly.

    Have some kind game style goal saved for the last ten minutes of class. If the students finish the main class targets then they get to play a game, watch a movie, or do something like that.

    I made a plan I call "Mystery Mail". I get the students from one class to write anonymous questions for the student in the next class. This plan is a nice warm-up or final game activity. Tell the student to use targeted vocab and grammar.

    All teachers have great classes and ones from HELL. When you put your heart into your work sometimes it gets broken, so we need to appreciate the classes that shine all the more.

    Best of luck!

    c

  6. #6
    purplefool is offline Newbie
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    Re: Teaching Unresponsive Teens

    there is not much that can be said to change your approach as it appears that you are using your imagination and creativeness quite liberally(only good teachers do this...congrats!). however, in this age group, i usually have the feeling that the problem isn't really their 'lack of interest' or 'shyness', but their fear of self.

    i would try to devise a kind of situation where the kids get to see their own successes and strengths. maybe small-group activities with/out presentations or 'mini-reports' where they are allowed to choose the topic or work a predefined one. these activities include a lot of work for you, but you seem very energetic in your teaching, so it should not be a big problem.

    another thing that i have found is that allowing the students to go 'off-topic' for a short time helps them express things that you, as the teacher, would not usually get to hear. these fears/wants/needs can then be integrated in future lessens to 'personalize' them and give the students the feeling that you are 'hip'(which, as we all know, no teacher can ever be in the students eyes!!!).

    good luck and report back on how things are going!

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    Re: Teaching Unresponsive Teens

    Use material that will provoke some kind of reaction or get them more involved - music, sports or what their ideal school would be like... A few really good classes can change the situation around.

  8. #8
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    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Re: Teaching Unresponsive Teens

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    You write: "I'm fully aware that it's the approach I'm taking with them, and not a problem of theirs"

    Don't be too hard on yourself. The reason I am giving you no advice is that one of the reasons I stopped teaching in 11-16 schools in the UK to return to TEFL was that, after 32 years in the classroom, I still had problems with some children in that age range. I regret to inform you that even if you receive some helpful advice from other teachers, it may not work for you.

    13/14 year-olds can be ... (I shall not complete that, because some moderator would only have to delete the expressions I would use.)
    No, the best arm in the arsenal of a teacher is a great programme. If you're respectful, kind, benevolent, and have a fascinating and fun programme, no students will disrupt you in any profound or lasting way. A bit of playfulness, and overzealous energy, but you'll have the cooperation of the group as a whole.

  9. #9
    5jj's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching Unresponsive Teens

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    No, the best arm in the arsenal of a teacher is a great programme. If you're respectful, kind, benevolent, and have a fascinating and fun programme, no students will disrupt you in any profound or lasting way. A bit of playfulness, and overzealous energy, but you'll have the cooperation of the group as a whole.
    If only that were true.

  10. #10
    konungursvia's Avatar
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    Re: Teaching Unresponsive Teens

    Well, it is in North America, but I recognize it's far from the case in the UK.

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