Teaching Adolescents Effectively

It cannot be overstated how important teachers are in the lives of adolescents. Teachers spend more time with a child than their own parents do. It is has been stated in other areas of this site that adolescence is a difficult time in development and a time of withdrawal from reliance on the social network as well as a notable withdrawal from responsibilities. Students this age will usually lack motivation, at least to some extent, and will be confused about their place in the world. So, what can instructors do to make sure that high school students are developing and learning? Additionally, how can we help students transition through adolescence and succeed academically? Taking what I have learned from research on adolescent psychosocial development, the following strategies affect students positively.

Teaching Adolescents Strategies

Be Supportive!

  • Engage students in planning for their own future
  • Encourage parental involvement in student learning and find ways for them to be included in the student’s support system
  • Offer assistance to students who need help (such as structuring time management for students who lack these skills)
  • Be a positive influence to students, they will respond in a positive way!
  • Praise good behavior and academic improvement
  • Be an advocate for students in any appropriate way that they may need
  • Involve parents and family members in a student’s education so that they have support at home
  • Reach out to students in need. If you suspect they are having problems at home, allow them to open up about it.

Encourage Peer Interaction

  • Implement peer review/tutoring systems in your classroom
  • Research has shown that a a stable network or peers can improve how a student perceives school.
  • Get all students involved in class discussions
  • Create activities that require students to rely on each other to succeed (such as group projects, webquests)
  • Give ample opportunity for and require respectful communication between peers
  • Teach students about cultural diversity and tolerance
  • Encourage and promote extra-curricular activities like clubs and teams

Create a Pleasant Classroom Environment

  • Engage students to help design the classroom environment is a way that makes them comfortable
  • Let students have a chance to decorate the classroom walls
  • Allow students to have a hand in creating the class rules, so everyone is comfortable with them
  • Be patient with students so that they feel valued and respected and feel safe enough to share ideas
  • Demand that students be respectful of one another and if someone isn’t, handle it immediately.
  • Accommodate students who need supplemental help or have assistive needs

Be Interested in Your Students…and Show it!

  • Ask students about their time outside of class
  • Learn every student’s name and use it often!
  • Provide opportunities for students to talk about themselves
  • Create plans with each student for their learning goals for the year and refer to them regularly when students meet a goal
  • Be involved in your community and show support for student-led organizations

Make Students Engaged in Your Class

  • Vary instructional methods so to reach all students
  • Do not make lectures the main focus of all class periods
  • Work in fun activities to keep students from getting bored
  • Use technology when possible and appropriate
  • Be aware of what is happening in your classroom. Monitor, monitor, monitor!
  • Plan effectively and make sure transitions in your instruction are smooth
  • Relate new information to popular culture when possible
  • Expect students to live up to their potential
  • Make sure students understand before moving on to new concepts

Be Effective at Classroom Management

  • Apply reasonable and consistent disciplinary policies that are agreed on by parents and students and enforce them fairly
  • Communicate clear expectations for behavior
  • Be flexible with instructional strategies to personalize instruction when needed
  • Establish a reward system for good behavior and academic achievement
  • Encourage respectful communication, even when viewpoints differ
  • Assess students regularly to ensure that they are in line with expectations

Create a Trusting Relationship with Your Students

  • Learn every student’s name and use it often!
  • Provide students with opportunities throughout the day to express their feelings
  • Empower students to communicate openly with school staff by providing them with a mechanism to evaluate their learning and instructors
  • Be consistent in class with each student. Don’t play favorites.
  • Interact more in class, lecture less
  • Smile, be friendly (yet professional)!
  • Be enthusiastic about teaching your subject matter
  • Allow students to get to know things about you

Model Appropriate Behavior

  • Correct inaccurate perceptions about “normal” behavior (e.g, statistics on smoking and alcohol/drug abuse)
  • Be respectful of students and other teachers/administrators at all times
  • Have patience but be firm
  • Have a positive attitude
  • Be encouraging of others and promote that attitude to students
  • Be understanding, forgiving, and realistic.

Does anyone have additional ideas?


16 thoughts on “Teaching Adolescents Effectively

  1. Jame Collelo says:

    Very good information. Lucky me I discovered your website by accident (stumbleupon). I’ve book-marked it for later!

  2. Aye says:

    As a teacher,do not call unnecessary attention to physical differences among students.eg..(a) avoid seating arrangement that are obviously based on height but try to seat smaller students so they can see and participate in class activities.

  3. Angel says:

    As a high school student i believe this information would be very helpful for teachers. I am having trouble particularly in english because i feel as though the teacher doesn’t explain things as effectively as she could and does not try to help students that need extra assistance. Many fellow class mates have found them selves being belittled and these tips could make a big difference.

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