Keeping Teens in Check: Effective Classroom Management for Young Adults

Keeping Teens in Check: Effective Classroom Management for Young Adults

Young adults have a lot going on in their bodies and minds, so it is essential to structure classroom management around the needs and development of your teens.

Keep them in check by catering to their interests and by commanding their attention. Follow these strategies to manage your young adults and your classroom will be brimming with excited and engaged learners.

Effective Classroom Management for Young Adults

  1. 1

    Social Media

    Whether you are a fan of social media or not, you have to reckon with the fact that it is popular and prominent in our global world. If you find yourself in a classroom full of teenagers, you may want to examine ways in which you can discuss social media, bring it into focus in lessons, and even consider using it to reach your students. There are ways to focus on social media without starting up a page for your class on Facebook as this can be problematic anyway, depending on where you are.

    Consider the elements of social media that are most popular and most used, and incorporate them into your lessons. One way to bring out your cool side is to devise a lesson around status updates. You could spend time defining them, discussing how they are used, and whether your students find them as irritating as you do. What information, or non-information do status updates provide? What are some examples that people you know have posted? Do students comment on these or post their own?
    Have students give examples, and write out status updates at the beginning and end of class. These can be sarcastic, serious, or funny. You could also have students do check-ins. Ask them where they have been hanging out during the week, what events have they been attending, or what they are planning in the coming weeks. Institute a weekly check-in, and ask them to alter it by tenses, utilizing present, past, and future very easily. like “Jack will be going to the Brooklyn Nightclub next week to see the band, Caribou.” or “”Marla went to the Madonna concert last Friday.”

    There's a whole range of possible discussion topics social media can generate and you might consider having students debate the pros and cons of using social media, or Facebook in particular. What are the negatives about it, especially for teens and college-age adults? What effect has it had on them personally, our society on a whole, or the members of their community or country? Social media is a part of their daily lives, so why not mix it into their English language learning as well?

  2. 2

    Project Work

    High school students enjoy the independence and individuality they can display by carrying out project work. Of course each group of students will respond differently to task-centered work, but you can come up with all kinds of interesting and engaging projects for varied levels. For teens, it is essential that you give them opportunities where they can expand upon and explore topics they have a vested interest in. To introduce task-centered work, provide perimeters they must follow and outcomes they must reach to be sure that the projects are task-centered. Then have students brainstorm several ideas before they settle on their choice. Give them time in class to organize and outline what their project will encompass. Once students have organized a proposal, they can present it to you for your approval. After everyone in the class has set their project topic, be sure to set clear dates for check-ins, revisions, and final presentations. Often, students may work on a project for several weeks so be sure that during the work sessions that work is getting done, and that students are always using English to accomplish tasks. If they are organizing debate topics in a group, give them feedback and things to build upon. If they are doing tag-team speeches or group role plays, make sure that no one person is dominating the work sessions and that each person in the group contributes an equal amount to the presentation. Come up with ways in which students can use their talents and their unique personalities to enhance project work. You may even want to consult your class for their opinion or give them some choices when introducing the idea of project-based work.

  3. 3

    Dork Out

    Believe it or not, you can have a really good time with your high school students. As long as you remain the authority figure, there's no reason that you can't show them how to loosen up and get a little silly. After all, if you expect your students to stand up and speak organically you have to be willing to first set a safe and fun environment. Show them that you are not all homework and assignments. You have a sense of humor and sometimes you use it to make them do silly things. You have had a lot of funny experiences living overseas, so why not share some embarrassing moments, or situations only a foreigner can get themselves into. Talk about your home country and interests so that students get a sense of who you are. If you can dork out with them without losing control of your class, you will gain a high level of respect and they often will begin to show you their goofy sides as well!

    A few teeny-bopper games that you might think about adapting for your ESL students are Truth or Dare and Spin the Bottle. Truth or dare can be adapted for conversation practice by creating a set of cards for each category that students will draw from when they choose one of the two categories. Come up with safe truth questions to ask, and simple dares that fit your group. Some examples might be: Walk down the hallway backwards during break, tell us about the last mistake you made, write a thank you card to a teacher you don't like, wear an orange shirt to the next class, talk about your happiest memory. The cards can be as safe or as risky as you think the class would respond to. For spin the bottle, it's simply a fun way to create teams, choose who is next or who goes first. Feel free to tell your students the history of the games or keep it to yourself.


Young adults have a lot of energy, enjoy technology, and have learning needs that are very specific.

Tune into your students to find out what they will respond to and get rewarded with entertaining results. Try out these classroom management techniques to motivate your students and get language moving.

Like it? Tell your friends: