As a teacher in a Secondary school I spend a good majority of my week around teenagers. Lots of people say kind of inappropriate things when I say I’m a high school teacher; most of them are around having to spend that much time with people aged 12-18 years. But of course I find them pretty cool and I quite enjoy their energy and often miss it when I’m not around them. One of my goals this year is to write about teenagers and the great things I learn about them or from them in my line of work.
(Please note that the things that I write are sometimes huge generalisations and are only my humble ponderings on what I see in my job. They are not gospel, they are not fact, they are just ‘ponderings’ – sharing moments with you and they are not about specific people or events. Phew, glad I got that little anxiety off my chest.)
As part of my weekly ‘A thing or two about teenagers’ I have created a little character, I still haven’t named her but I’m open to your suggestions. Here she is…
This is what I’ve learnt in the past week
(some are things I learnt over the last 5 years of teaching too but have learnt again in the recent week)
1. Teenagers are really good at judging whether or not you are having a bad day. Whenever I feel down or am having a rough day the students I teach are the first to notice. And they say great things like ‘Are you having a bad day?’, ‘You don’t seem very happy today’ or ‘Why are you so cranky?’ I think as adults we don’t say this stuff to each other enough and we should take a hint from the kids and ask each other if we are okay more often. It really helps to know when someone is having a bad day as it can make us more empathetic or less inclined to take their reactions too personally.
2. Regardless of how they are feeling most of the teenagers I see always say ‘Good morning’. The kids at my school are so great at this. Even when I haven’t taught them or they don’t really know me, if I’m walking past them they will say ‘good morning’ or ‘hello’. I walk past adults everyday and they often just look away or pretend not to see me. The kids see me, its not awkward or annoying for them to just say ‘hi’, I like that. The students I teach also always ask me, ‘And how are you today?’ – nice!
3. Teenagers are really easily hurt by the stuff that adults say. I know that most of us as adults know this but I think at times we forget how easily our actions and words affect others, especially kids. On Monday a student in one of my classes told me that he thought his old Art teacher thought he was stupid, like really, really stupid. I asked him how he knew this and he said it’s because she used to always pause when he showed her one of his artworks and say ‘Woooow…..Iiiit’s…..goooooood… ……..Weeeelll….dooone’ – my repetition of letters represents her condescension. Even though he made a joke out of what she said to him I could see that it hurt him and the whole lesson he kept saying that he wasn’t good at Art, I think she (probably unknowingly) convinced him that he was bad at Art. Poor guy.
That’s all for this week. Let me know what your thoughts are on any of these issues in my comments section.