The teenage years are a time of tumultuous learning and growing. Teens are trying to establish a sense of identity and a sense of liberation from the fences of childhood. These years are a time when teens push adults away and spend a lot of time with friends. However, parental input is still extremely important (Block, 2009).Though the change is most apparent in the physical aspect, social development and emotional development seem to vary dramatically in this age range. Students at this age are attempting to realize their place in society and how to proceed with their futures. It is also during this time that they learn to self-regulate their emotions and, as time passes, become more aware of their sense of self as well as the needs and feelings of others. Teens in this stage are now capable of reflecting on more than just their own past experiences. This time of adolescence serves as a foundation from which these youthful individuals will progress into their futures.
The high school realm provides ample room for experimentation. During this time, students are able to determine preferences and reaffirm, or even forge entirely new views on various topics. High school also provides young people with the opportunity to form bonds such as friendships and romantic ties. Parent-teen interaction may become increasingly limited, as a major goal of teens at this stage of development is autonomy and independence from parents (Mersch, 2009).
During these years, teens develop the ability to reason abstractly and form and consider multiple hypotheses. They have a thought process that is less concrete, enabling them to see grays and not just black and white (Mersch, 2009). One of the biggest questions that teens are looking to answer is, “who am I?” They may not always realize this, but their behavior indicates they are searching for this answer (Block, 2009). Teens are looking to establish an identity. This consequently leads to high-risk behaviors (Mersch, 2009). This can be attributed to the fact that teenagers are taking much more pride than they used to in responsibility and respect of others (Cox). Teens are seeking intimacy with other teens. However, this does not necessarily include sex. They often form close bonds with members of the same gender. Despite these close bonds, however, most teens still keep a lot of information to themselves, as they evaluate themselves in terms of how others see them.Just as they understand others, they are trying to gain a social understanding of who they are. Opinions of their peers begin to take the main focus of how they view themselves. In order to reinforce a sense of who they are, teenagers spend more time with their friends. They begin to look for others who understand who they are. Teenagers look for others to relate to and rely on, as they did with their parents.
It is during high school that adolescences are making the transition between childhood and adulthood. Their social understanding of the world is changing and progressing, and they think daily about their social interactions. For example, normal adolescent development often revolves around joining cliques, wanting to join cliques, or being excluded from cliques. Cliques can have a strong positive effect on self-worth. They provide a social niche and help kids develop a sense of belonging, support, and protection (Mendal, 2005). During late adolescence, a person is more able to understand, decipher, and explain the actions and motives of others. At this point in their lives, teenagers have had a variety of social experiences with different people from different backgrounds. They are gaining social insight and able to consider another person’s perspective. Adolescents will use a group of their peers in social situations as an outlet for self-exploration. They begin to recognize that people are a result of their environment and that the past and present influence both behavior and personality in a person.
Teachers have to understand that their students are bringing not only their baggage from home to the classroom but also their emotions and problems. Students at this age are also trying out different characters and are trying to fully find themselves. But teachers can begin working with this even on the first day of classes by starting with an activity to learn the students' names quickly. By making a classroom feel safe and encouraging teachers have another aid for instructions. Teachers also have to realize that they are an example for their students so, they should keep their emotions level and not over react.
In the classroom, teachers can use discussion, group work, and debates to get students communicating with each other. Teachers can also encourage students to participate in real-world activities through internships and volunteering. As teachers we can teach self-help by delaying assistance the child wants long enough so he or she has a chance to see what, by relying on his own resourcefulness, he or she can figure out for themselves (Pickhardt, 2009).
Teachers can use literature and poetry that demonstrate problems and emotions and to analyze emotion and the work. Teachers can also give their students the assignment to interview their peers and write it up, which will allow them to get to know their classmates.
Teachers can have students work together to decide on how to work a problem or what the answer is.
Teachers can use a lot of group discussion projects and small groups to work through and connect concepts.
The teacher can use small experimental groups that they can switch with different labs and encourage discussion.
For The Arts:
Teachers can discuss emotion in the work and in music they can use works that express social emotional concepts so it is instilled in their minds.
A great way to get your students to know each other is a game called 'Find Someone Who...' In this game, students will have a grid or list with criteria such as 'Find someone who has a pet,' 'Find someone who has their own car', etc. Not only is this a fun activity, but it also helps otherwise shy or quiet students open up and allows for them to learn about others who they may not have spoken with otherwise.
Brookmeyer KA, Henrich CC, Schwab-Stone M. (2005). Parental Involvement, Social Understanding, Protect Teens From Violence. In Family Resource . Retrieved 11/5/2010, from http://www.familyresource.com/parenting/adolescence/parental-involvement-social-understanding-protect-teens-from-violence.
Child Development Institute (2000-2010). Stages of Social-Emotional Development In Children and Teenagers. In Child Development Institute, LLC. Retrieved 11/5/2010, from http://www.childdevelopmentinfo.com/development/erickson.shtml.
Chris. (June 5, 2010). Teenagers & Peers. In Understanding Teenagers. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from http://understandingteenagers.com.au/blog/2010/06/teenagers-peers
Cohen, Jonathan . (2010). Teaching & Learning. In National School Climate Center. Retrieved 11/5/2010, from http://www.schoolclimate.org/guidelines/teachingandlearning.php.
Edutopia Staff. (3/17/2008). Social Emotional Learning. In Edutopia. Retrieved 11/5/2010, from http://www.edutopia.org/social-emotional-learning.
McDevitt, T, & Ormrod, J. (2009). Child development and education. Prentice Hall.
Mendal, Joshua. (2005). Social Life in Middle and High School: Dealing With Cliques and Bullies. Edcuation.com. Retrieved April 2, 2011, from http://www.education.com/reference/article/bullying-in-middle-and-high-school
Pickhardt, Carl. (2009, July 12). Teaching your adolescent independence. Psychology Today on the Web. Retrieved April 1, 2011, from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/surviving-your-childs-adolescence/200907/teaching-your-adolescent-independence