“Adolescence is a new birth, for the higher and more completely human traits are now born.”
– G. Stanley Hall
Living a teacher is definitely not easy, yet it is fun-filled. Who wants to live an easy life, if there isn’t fun enough? While students are unique, and their learning varies by age, teaching adolescents is a different ball game. There is a lot more that a teacher has to do with adolescents i.e. the teens. To a teenager student, the teacher has to be a confidante, a mentor, a guide, a counsellor and sometimes, a bit of disciplinarian. It is a complex balance of roles, akin to walking a tight rope without a harness.
As we all know, teenage is that crucial period when children go through a major physical and emotional changes. They deal with unexpected questions and are always under constant pressure of being accepted by others. They yearn respect and recognition. They find themselves at crossroads where they are sometimes treated as kids, and sometimes as grown-ups – as per the convenience of others (adults) around them. Add to this the advent of social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It just is too much of posturing that they do to be “accepted”.
A teacher has this huge responsibility of being a role model, someone that his/her students can look up to. The teacher could set examples and guide the teenager. For example, it is fine to disagree with friends, especially when it isn’t just. However, it is important to be tolerant and accept diverse thoughts from friends and peers. It is also important to make the teenagers realize that pursuing a dream is more important to life. In that process trying to make everyone happy may not be possible and that it isn’t their fault. Teenagers should also be told that it’s okay to feel bad and cry over some things. Crying is not gender specific. As long as they take a stand i.e. standup for all the right causes and to do things keeping the human values intact, it is ok to be just being themselves and not try to be someone they aren’t. This is a crucial period for a teacher too, who, at times, in an effort to be friendly and popular among the teens could forget to see the thin line that exists between being a friend of a student and being a friendly teacher to a student.
Teenagers these days have many friends – real and virtual. The virtual friends cause more harm and since they are unseen, it is sometimes hard to believe them. Yet, teenagers want to emulate the new-found virtual friend. Teacher being the confidante can divert the student away from what seems fun, yet fraught with risk. A teen student needs a guide, mentor and a ‘Teacher’ – one who listens, understands, values and respects them. And, while doing so watches their back and corrects them and helps before they fall. We can be a friendly teacher, but let’s remember that we are teachers and not friends. If you become the friend, who’ll play the teacher?