Narrating the Positive

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!


4 thoughts on “Narrating the Positive

  1. kroeningj

    I totally understand, Katie! Freshmen truly are tweens. I spent 11 years teaching 7th and 8th graders and truly believe 9th graders still belong in the junior highs/middle schools. We must share their mentaliy somewhat; otherwise, we wouldn’t get along with them so well. Just yound at heart, I guess!


  2. rietz

    I completely know how you feel about the students rubbing off on you after awhile. It can be easy to start the year or the term off fresh and positive, but after awhile when the same students who like to test the waters, keep trying to test the waters, it is really challenging to keep being positive. It definitely is easy to fall into their trap.


  3. alissahansen

    I am right there with you too! My goal this semester is to not allow myself to fall into the negativity trap or stoop to the adolescent level, no matter how hard it is. I like to use humor and try to do it as much as possible; however, there are many times when my humor can be sarcastic because I feel like it is the only way to get through to students who are consistently off task. I know I need to be both warm and strict and have emotional constancy with each class. I had a very negative class first semester right away in the morning and I let this affect my whole day. This especially became tricky when I reached the more “active” and “challenging” classes later in the day. I found myself flying off the handles and giving lectures about behaviors a little too often. I need to be invigorated and bring that joy factor into every day.



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