If you’re a teacher who works with kids around the “tween” stage – 9-13 years old – you’re probably exhausted by the end of the school day. This age group can be a lot of fun, because they’ve yet to become cynical or snobby and are still young enough to enjoy playing games, going out to recess and doing projects with friends. On the other hand, tweens are just entering adolescence, which means that they’re self-conscious, experimenting with romantic feelings, joining cliques, and starting to get the appeal of sarcasm, eye rolling and rebelling. Teachers, not just parents, may find it tough to catch, and then keep, the attention of teens as they try to educate them day after day, but there are a few tricks you can use yourself to outwit your tween students.
- Reference current pop culture: Kids get sucked into the pop culture and celebrity world at an even younger age than the generation before them. If you want to keep up with what they think is cool, educate yourself on the names of a few pop stars or teen actors that your students respect. Use these references when appropriate to help your kids relate to the lesson.
- Work with technology. An old-fashioned projector or even PowerPoint presentation isn’t going to impress your kids, so learn how to use tools like Twitter, wikis, iTunes, or Flickr to keep up .
- Invite guest lecturers. Show your kids ho relevant the skills they’re learning in class are to the real world by inviting guest lecturers to talk about their jobs and experience. Students are always interested in anyone new who shows up in the classroom, and you’ll get a break, too.
- Start with a media clip. Before introducing a new lesson – or as a way of reinforcing an old one – start your presentation with a clip from a popular song, a movie or a TV show that illustrates your point. Your students will be more likely to analyze the situation and discover the lesson’s real-life impact that way.
- Host mock or mini events. Get your kids to participate in an important lesson by setting up experiments, mock debates, classroom polls or elections and other projects that allow them to take on an active role. Their experience will help them understand the lesson on a deeper level.