Play To Their Strengths

Play To Their Strengths

It’s a traditional view that teenagers are grumpy and difficult, both at home and in the classroom. Generally, teaching is geared towards getting them to conform to certain behaviours, but this strategy might be a mistake.

Research has shown that the developing teenage brain might be naturally impulsive, nosy, and easily distracted. Therefore, we should be using these insights to construct educational plans that play to their strengths.

Another consideration is the social aspect of teenage students. In educational settings, they naturally look for socialising opportunities. Discouraging these may harm their education and hamper their future success.

Playing To The Strengths Of The Teenage Brain

Instead, we should be looking at using the teenage brain’s natural processes to guide lesson plans. This social brain is especially good at associating interactions with fellow students, with facts and figures.

There aren’t limitations on how this learning can take place. For instance, students can act out plays where they are encouraged to tell a historic story or act out a scene from a book. Alternatively, you can task students with a more academic task, to work as a group on maths and science problems.

Adding these scenarios into lessons could be a good way to encourage learning without resistance from the students themselves. A sort of a backdoor to learning effectively.

Likewise, students are not always able to concentrate. Distractions should not be frowned upon; but, instead, you should look to take advantage of distractions by encompassing them into lessons. For instance, if a student stops working to watch something that’s going on outside a French class, perhaps ask them to use as many French words as possible to describe what’s happening.

Five Tips For Using The Teenager’s Social Brain

Try these five tips for utilising your students’ social brain in the classroom.

  1. Try interactive group work where students can share their thoughts and knowledge, and report their findings to the whole class.
  2. Don’t place students in embarrassing situations. For instance, don’t ask a student to answer a question if they seem distracted.
  3. Make lessons relevant. Teenagers are motivated by their own desires, goals and interests. So, set learning styles to match that, i.e. write a story about a historic event, create a song, act out a play, etc.
  4. Provide students with better memory tools. Teenagers can quickly forget, but memories can be jogged with engagement and visual aids.
  5. Remember that teenagers are trying to assert their independence. Give them some autonomy like asking for teaching feedback.

How will you use the teenager’s social brain in the classroom? Do you already allow for social interaction in your classroom?

Tell us about your experiences in the comments.

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