by Katie Choate
Teaching 9th graders can be both rewarding and challenging. They are at a strange age where they would still like to give their teacher a hug, but it’s really not the “cool” thing to do any more. It’s better for them to play the “too cool for school” thing, yet they really do still function like intermediate students. They are searching for positive feedback and they like to be told when they are doing something right. Because they act one age and are really “at” another age, I find narrating the positive to be very difficult.
I want to treat these students parallel to how they act toward me. However, this is not the right approach. It’s a tricky, little game 14 year-olds like to play, and I tend to fall into their trap. A student may shut down, sit and stare at the wall for 15 minutes while they’re supposed to be doing something else, and I will call out, “What are you looking at, Ayden?” In my defense, I probably only do things like this a small percentage of the time. The other half of the time, I am aware and follow the “warm/strict” approach to these students. Something more like walking closer to Ayden, looking at his work, and commenting on what he’s done right (even though that was 20 minutes ago). This gets him back on track and acknowledged to him that I noticed he spaced off.
I have to remember that I am the adult…they start to rub off on you after awhile!