Re-engaging teenage students

This is a follow-up to my previous post about a student who completely switched off during my first lesson with his group. I had another (the third) lesson with the group today, and here’s what I did to improve the situation.

How I tweaked my lesson

After the first couple of lessons, during which I “studied” the learners and paid particular attention to this one, today I decided to modify my plan as follows:

  • I created the pairs and groups myself while planning, rather than letting the students sit where they felt more comfortable. I put this learner in pairs with a person I felt was more or less at his level and who I suspected would encourage him rather than dominate.
  • I planned an activity where ALL members of each group needed to have a different role, so he couldn’t let other people do the job while he sat quietly thinking about something else. He was assigned by his group the role of the shopkeeper, so he couldn’t possibly just sit there and not utter a word.
  • I got students to give each other feedback in writing rather than speaking at the end of the activity, to allow him to feel less on the spot during this delicate stage of the lesson.

The outcome

The lesson went really well. His group encouraged him, the fact of having a role made him speak and even smile! 🙂 I was pleasantly surprised and realised one more time how important and rewarding it can be to learn from your learners.

4 thoughts on “Re-engaging teenage students”

  1. Hi Giulia,

    This is amazing. You have all my respect for thinking so much about this class and finding a solution so that the kid can be proud of his achievement. I’m also surprised the solution was a simple one, (apart from the thinking from your part) yet it did the trick. Thanks for sharing it with us.


    1. Thanks Kamila. Actually my strategies helped all learners, not just this particular one. I’m glad I learned something from this experience, and I’ll consider these factors next time I teach teenagers. 😊

  2. Giulia,

    I second exactly what Kamila said. It’s great and your student should be grateful they have such a considerate teacher. I don’t know if I always *do* this but it’s what I aim for.

    1. Thanks Marc, but i didn’t do anything special. I actually was surprised by how something so simple changed the class dynamics so radically. Something to keep in mind next time I have a similar problem.

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