I’m happy to announce that I’ve recently had the privilege to write my first post for the iTDi blog. The topic was Teaching Teens and it was a fantastic experience. I’d like to add that two more bloggers – Marc Jones and Pravita Indriati – took up the challenge and wrote wonderful posts on the topic, so don’t forget to check them out.
Anyway, it’s Monday afternoon and I’m home, thinking about my classes. I’m feeling pretty excited today. It may be because it’s the full moon and I’m very sensitive to the phases of the lunar cycle. Or maybe it’s just because I had another wonderful day at school, having fun with my teen classes.
And I can’t help sharing a tiny snippet from such a class. The situation I’m going to describe clearly demonstrates how tricky it is to teach teenagers – not just because of them (their ever-changing mood or their alleged self-centredness), but because of what I do and how I react. I’ve simply put my foot in it…..
Context 1: Class of 19-year-old senior students. Topic: Films and actors
Me: What do you think is the most suitable type of movie for a date?
Girl: Something serious – with a nice twist. At least, the couple then has something to talk about.
Boy: Well, the plot is not really important because the girl is definitely not going to pay attention to the ending of the film.
Me (smiling, pretending to be surprised): Really? I’d definitely like to see the ending of the film.
Boy: Well, if YOU and I went to the cinema together, Mrs. Teacher, I promise you WOULD be able pay attention to the ending of the movie.
Me (smiling but pretending to be seriously offended). Oh, now I can’t help feeling offended!
Boy (apologetically): Oh, no! Teacher, I didn’t mean ……
Class: Haha, it’s too late to apologize!
The lesson finishes.
After the lesson, the boy comes to me and apologizes again (note: everybody is still in the classroom, curious to see what happens). Making sure that everybody can hear me, I wind up the conversation saying, jokingly, that I know what he meant: I, the teacher, am so intellectually mature that I would definitely want to pay attention to the ending of the movie and he would respect it. 😉 The boy nods in agreement, apparently relieved.
The conversation may have appeared flippant at first sight, but I know it wasn’t. It was one of those memorable moments you will want to share with your colleagues because, apart from teaching, you had fun with a group of intelligent teens.
There is a moral, though: pay attention to every word you say and remember that language, as well as gestures, can be dangerously ambiguous.