School for Moral Courage: Dealing with Troubled Teens
A Normal Teenager
In order to deal with a troubled teenager, you first need to know how teenagers normally act. As an educator, it has been a long time since you yourself have been in this stage of life and although you may see your student's actions as irrational and disrespectful, this may be very normal teenage behavior. As you observe your students in the classroom, you may think, “but I never acted or felt like this when I was an adolescent.” Just remember that everyone is different and your students face different challenges that you faced when you were young. They react and deal with things differently than you did.
One of the most important parts of helping your students is building a trusting relationship where they feel they can communicate any issue pertaining to coursework and materials to you without fear of negative feedback. Know that some students will catch on quicker than others and try not to play favorites in the classroom. Without crossing any inappropriate boundaries, you can create an environment in the classroom where your students can openly communicate any questions or concerns with you. Always treat your students with kindness and respect and avoid outbursts of anger, disappointment and frustration. Do not let the students control how the classroom is run, but make sure they feel comfortable in their learning environment.
Preventing rebellious behavior starts early on in raising children. As an educator, you have no control over what goes on in the homes of your students. The closer you are to your student, the more likely they are to respect and obey you. Be sure to teach and reinforce good moral behavior that your students may not learn in the home. Remember that teenagers are faced with serious pressure from their peers every day. Create a relationship with your students that allows them to open up with you and get past insecurities that may cause them to demonstrate rebellious or inappropriate behavior, but make sure that your students respect your authority in the classroom.
The key to creating an open and safe environment for you students is to create mutual respect between you and them. If your students respect you, they will be more likely to maintain appropriate behavior and participate in discussions while in the classroom. In order to create this type of respect, make sure that students know your expectations from the beginning or your class. Outline the rules and policies of the classroom and the punishment for non-compliance. Then stick to what you say. If you feel that you should show mercy for particular cases, explain why you feel the student deserves a special exception and then warn them that this will not happen every time that they do not comply with classroom policy in the future.
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