Sunday, February 8, 2015

Valentine's Day Blog Hop 2015 - Teens are the Best Part of Teaching

Valentine's Day Blog Hop 2015

Thank you to Julie Faulkner, Lauralee Moss, and Brynn Allison for creating  this Feeling the Love Blog Hop. I love settling into my chair and reading colleagues teaching stories.  Checking out their engaging activities is a win-win, too. 

Because this is February and love abounds-at least it should- I want to share why teenagers are the best part of teaching. And then, so you can offer some no calorie but high energy love to your students scholastic diets, I'm including three Valentine's Day activities.

Why I Love Teenagers
One day in a February past, as I plunked my basket stacked with a gallon of milk, some boneless chicken breasts, a bunch of romaine lettuce and numerous other items onto the end of the conveyer belt at the grocery store, I was greeted by the mother of one of my students. We chatted happily about her son and school happenings. When I reached the front of the line, the checkout woman smiled and cooed, "Ooh, are you a teacher?"

"Yes," I said, grinning widely.

"What grade do you teach?"

"Seniors for English, but grades nine through twelve for journalism and creative writing."

Immediately, she backed away from me and locked her arms across her chest as if to ward off any stray adolescent cooties that might be clinging to my clothes. Her voice dropped the saccharine tone, and she adopted a sneer as she stated, "Oh. How do you stand them?"

I bit my tongue from lashing out, "I sure hope you don't have any kids, honey, if that's your attitude," since I didn't want to wear the cherry pie she was scanning.

Why is it that so many people view teenagers as creatures from a two o'clock in the morning nightmare? Is it the barrage of totally unrealistic movies from Hollywood? The way the print and broadcast news media plaster the newspapers and airways with stories about the gangstas, the druggies and the dropouts? Is it their frustration dealing with their own children at the age where all adolescents, to some degree, catch the crazies as they embody walking, talking hormones?

High School Newspaper Editor
The people who think adolescents should be neither seen nor heard until they are twenty-one should be required to visit the nearest middle or high school and enjoy the trophies for sports, ROTC, band, science fairs, and music, art and drama competitions- to name only a few - shimmering proudly on the glass shelves.

Then they must peruse the list of clubs and activities students populate covering every topic from Amnesty International to SAGA (Students Against Global Abuse), to tutoring, to various honor societies. They need to read the school's teen-written and run newspapers and literary magazines for more enlightenment on the lives of Real vs. Hollywood-inspired teenagers, and to chat with the school’s staff and faculty.

After they leave the school, they need to talk to the teenaged wait staff at their favorite restaurants, the baggers at the grocery store, the ticket sellers at the cinemas, the girls who clean their offices, the guys who wash their cars, or to any teens they encounter who make their adult lives a little bit easier. 

Many of these kids work 20-30 hours a week to help their families pay for rent, food, and other necessities as well as to save for college; not to pay for fancy cars, to party and to buy the latest fashions. The latter are gross misconceptions.

Adolescents always leave me shaking my head in awe. Behind their carefully constructed facades of boredom, hipness and insouciance dwell young adults who are exhausted, scared, compassionate and courageous. Some face an ugly side of life that I truly can’t even imagine. I mean who leaves school to work two jobs and to watch over younger siblings, just to stumble home at two AM to complete some homework, sleep for a very few hours, get to school on time every day and earn a 3.0 GPA? That was the life of one of girls I had the privilege of teaching a few years ago. And she was not alone in her struggle to juggle school, work and family matters.

Classrooms everywhere are filled with students who survive similar lives. And that’s not to mention those adolescents whose personal and family lives endure serious health and economic issues, but who desperately depend on their school’s academic, extracurricular and social outlets to keep them putting on foot in front of the other every single day.
Can teens be irritating? Just ask my hair stylist who makes my gray hair disappear.

Can teens make me gnash my teeth at yet another excuse for not having an assignment done? Ask my dentist.

Can teens make me wish for a magic spell to freeze their eyes into permanent eye roll positions even though my optometrist said this was not probable?

Yes, yes, and yes.

But do these young adults make me laugh when I am so frustrated with life I wanted to crawl under my computer table? Or do they make me question my own thoughts with their pointed questions during book discussions? Do they challenge me to see life from their side of the desk? Yes, yes and yes.

Do they deserve our respect and admiration? They most assuredly do.

Teenagers and Teaching form a treasured duet.

Lesson Love
Here are three priced activities for you to share with your teenage students.  Although they aren't chocolate, pizza or sodas, they are sure to make their brains sizzle and fizz with reading comprehension, great thinking and creative responses.

Valentine's Day Comprehension Activity: You Sent What??? Cards

Valentine's Day Comprehension Activity: Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match

LOVE NOTES - 6 Activities to show, “I love you,” or “I love you not”

Teacher Love
For all of my colleagues leading classrooms, I'm sending hearts filled with chocolates and dozens of digital red roses.

Happy Teaching,

Now that you've Felt the Love from this blog, read more secondary sellers here: