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1) I often get asked about the causes of teenage misbehaviour and ways to remedy certain issues. You'd all be surprised how many private messages I get related to this question on a weekly basis. There are numerous reasons why teens play up in class but there is one issue which stands out above the rest in my opinion which many teachers seem to neglect: EMPATHY! Do you remember your days at school when a teacher looked down on you? Maybe you were 14 or 15 and you felt like the teacher was treating you like a baby? I'm sure most of us have been through it. And the natural reaction is to play up as if you were many years younger than your actual age. Many teens who come to our schools always believe they are older than they really are (even though they are not) and my suggestion is to treat them accordingly. For example:
- Get to know their backgrounds and the tough life some of them might have.
- Ask them questions about certain topics as if they are teaching you something since this will give them a sense of self-worth and a feeling of maturity.
- Ask them to teach you something about their personal hobbies and show interest.
- Since they want to be treated as if they were older, manage your lesson materials accordingly and don't be scared of pushing them. We feel that they are young and therefore tread on eggshells. That's a wrong tactic. It has been proven that there is greater teen satisfaction at having achieved something challenging rather than playing childish games all lesson as a distraction from hard work.

2) Relating to the previous point, do not be scared to provide teens with adult lesson material. A lot of EFL textbooks are based on the British teen mentality which is rather different to that in Russia. Based on my experience, I can wholeheartedly say that Russian teens are much more mature for several cultural/social reasons (and that includes me witnessing teens in state schools). So quite often these books we provide are below their "maturity expectations." I trialed adult coursebooks with teens some years ago; the change in behaviour, progress in English and test results was vast. It was from that point that I never really had to worry about classroom issues again. I remember a year ago when I had some problems and arrived to school 5 mins before a lesson. What to do? I copied some advanced unit from Grammar Scan by Michael Swan and the teens became more enthusiastic than ever before.

3) This is a common issue among many native speakers: wanting to be liked. A lot of teachers, despite being qualified with some experience, may lack some self-confidence in their classroom skills. They may worry about disruption, ill-discipline etc and as a result try to heavily entertain their teens with the idea that "If i am liked and the students have fun, then what can go wrong?" The main point here is to be respected for what you deliver in the classroom and the progress students make given time constraints. Teens, like any other students, want to have a sense of achievement. Many teachers will play games and of course many teens will respond well. But for the right reasons? Maybe they "play along" as a way of avoiding any hard work. But like I have mentioned above, push them, be fair, be empathetic and the rewards will be much greater. You will be liked and more importantly, respected!

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