*This is a collaborative post
It’s not easy to get teenagers to focus at the best of times but with all the distractions the world comes with now, it’s harder than ever. Whether it’s friends, phones, tablets, or a number of other things, there’s always something that can pull them away from their school work. So, what are the best techniques for keeping teenagers focused?
Whether you’re in the classroom or at home, we’ve put a guide together to help you. Here are some tips that can help you return a teenager’s focus to where it’s meant to be.
A phone is one of the biggest distractions a teenager can have. It’s possible to spend hours at a time on a phone, texting, social media, YouTube or TikTok videos, to name just a few. It’s often not enough to ask a teenager to put the phone down.
It needs to be completely out of sight. Have a no devices rule in your classroom from the start so your pupils know there are no exceptions.
Use Different Learning Methods
Each one of your pupils will learn differently. Some of them may be literal, some may be visual, and some may be active learners. If you’re standing in front of a class reading a book every lesson, only a portion of your class is going to be taking anything away.
Try adding media to your lessons and getting your students actively involved with what you’re learning. Practical demonstrations often sink in further with teenagers than theoretical ones. When you get to know your students well, it will be easier to understand how they learn and tailor lessons to them.
If your students think they can get away with not listening in class, they will. Exit tickets are an excellent way of making sure that your students are learning. Each lesson, every student is given a piece of paper and must write down a summary of what they learned during the session.
This could include written demonstrations or even questions they have about what was said. It’s a good indication of how much they took in and where they are with their learning. It will also help you to understand if they need additional support.
All children deserve to be rewarded for hard work. It can often help teenagers if they have an incentive to meet their goals. If they have something more interesting to think about, why should they concentrate on work?
Rewards for teenagers could be anything from a piece of candy as they leave the classroom to a class trip somewhere. Tell them about the reward they could achieve if they’re willing to work for it. It can help to make it something they can only achieve as a team so they learn to help each other too.
Hold Them Accountable
Teenagers are old enough to know when they’ve done wrong. If they’re not handing in work on time or being disruptive in class, there have to be consequences. This isn’t always easy to do with teenagers, especially if parents and teachers aren’t working together.
Consequences can range from less free time, detention, or not receiving rewards when peers do. Be sure to offer additional support to any children falling behind before discussing consequences.
Have you noticed that you have pupils in your class who find it difficult to sit still? For some people, this is just a natural personality trait. It doesn’t mean they’re trying to be disruptive; it often means they’re incapable of being still.
Fidget objects can make all the difference. Allowing pupils to fidget as long as they’re actively listening to the lesson can help them to absorb what you’re saying. It could also help to allow your pupils to walk around freely.
There will be points during the year where you may be able to visibly see that your pupils need a break. Teenagers can carry around a lot of stress so it can help to be mindful of what they may be going through. If you can see that your class needs a break and you have the window to do so, let them take a break.
Put a movie on in class or play a game. Anything that helps to make them smile or relieve some tension could give you a much more focused class next time.
Create a Study Area
There will be plenty of work for your students to do outside of the classroom. Do your students have somewhere to go to focus on studying? Creating a small space that can be dedicated entirely to studying could help them succeed.
It may be a corner in the school library or an empty classroom during breaks or after school. Some students may not have the luxury of a quiet home or somewhere they can do their work. Make students aware of this space and when it’s available to them.
Create a Schedule
Teenagers understand the concept of time and they like to know what’s coming up. Create a monthly schedule for your students so they can see what is coming up in the school and what could be expected of them. Just like us, teenagers can suffer from anxiety because of fear of the unknown.
Be willing to discuss each schedule with your students and take any questions. It could be anything from dates of exams to etiquette during a school dance. Nothing is off bounds with teenagers so expect the unexpected.
Let Them Keep Track
It can help to let your students keep track of their own work. Give them what they need for the week and let them keep track of what they’ve done and what they haven’t. Giving them their own folders or work boxes can help because they can see where they’ve been and where they need to go next.
Offer your help throughout but let them be responsible for making sure they finish work on time and moving onto the next phase.
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