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What I Learned from Teaching Teens for a Month

I left teaching for a few months and came back with fresh energy. All of it was sucked away from a class of teens I had for a month, that just finished. Throughout the month, I learned some very interesting lessons.

Reflecting, it’s highly possible I learned more from my eccentric teen students than they did from me. 

1) Teens are not afraid to be themselves or be weird, as long as you embrace it first and foremost. 

I’ve recently been noticing just how individual and unique we all are. Teens will embrace all of their uniqueness, as long as you do it first. If you accidentally do the opposite, it’s a heavy scar that will not be shed easily. I had to learn very quickly to be open minded and accepting of each one of them, just the way they were. 

2) Teens lack control and most social filters needed for a smooth running class.

I’ve taught mostly adults; with them there is a classroom norm that is maintained with ease. For example, a student does not stand up while the teacher is explaining a grammar point to ask an unrelated vocab question from a song recently heard. Teens on the other hand, act in this way all the time. Classroom controls and policies can be placed on them, but their minds are still wondering what that weird piece of vocab means. I learned to embrace an interrupted lesson, in order to teach what my students were asking for.

3) Teen brains are massive sponges that quickly absorb everything.

Every challenge I threw their way was done with speed each and every time. There was often complaining or laziness at first, but once they set their minds to something, teens devour material. I went through twice as many activities with them, in comparison to my adult class. 

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So I (maybe) want to find a new job for next year. I’m actually on an unpaid year’s leave from my current job, which (with the help of savings) enabled me to travel through Asia this year, but I’m not sure I want to go back to my old job at the boarding school in New Jersey. 

Anyone know of any cool jobs that might involve ed, ed-tech, tech, interesting startups, ngo’s, anything in interesting places that I should apply to?

5 MOOCs Teachers Should Take as Students

A good teacher is a forever student. 

Pushing My Own Boundaries

So, I absolutely love trying new things in the classroom. Tons of change at once can be exhausting (which is what I’ve been going through for the last few weeks), but this one seems to be worth it. 

I’ve yet to use documentaries in class and tomorrow will be a first. The content itself is rich enough to not have to do anything other than simply watch it. But how to implement it into a language class? Any ideas? 

I’ll be using Food Inc. 
And would love any advice on using documentaries in a high-advanced class. 

Is Testing Valid?

In class every 2 weeks, we do the Cambridge CAE test to evaluate our students level and ensure they’re at the appropriate level. But I couldn’t help thinking today if this ‘test day’ is more detrimental than useful. So I asked them:

Why are tests harmful and why are they useful? What’s another way to test our knowledge and level?

As per my students; the test is really bad cause this number can really effect your motivation. A low score get you down, low and fast; even if you know it doesn’t really matter. However, it’s enjoyable for the students who like taking tests and the ones that perform well. 

But then there’s that awkward post-test convo. Where a student who failed horribly realizes his neighbour scored amazingly; and consequently that student feels like a life failure. 

So, their suggested test alternative; life! I absolutely agreed! Students said that using English in real life and having other understand was much more valuable of an assessment than the formal tests we do in class.

We Should All Be Self-Learners

I love this idea of self-directed/influenced/passionated learning. But, the reality is that students have expectations of what a teacher should do in the class and it doesn’t include students “teaching” themselves.

I came across this article and wish my students would do any one from the list:

I know it’s not easy to become a self-learner, but if you can’t even try to help yourself what could I do?

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