1. Who are you and what have you written for the ETpedia series?
My name’s Ed and I’ve written ETpedia Teenagers.
2. What’s your previous experience of teaching teenagers?
I’ve been teaching teenagers since 1992 in Hungarian state elementary and secondary schools.
3. What’s your typical day like at the moment?
Most of my work is freelance training and materials writing. There’s quite a bit of travel, which means these days I can’t do as much teaching as I would like, only one day a fortnight.
4. Why do you enjoy working with teenagers?
Teenagers are not easy to teach, and for me the challenge is a huge part of the appeal. I love the energy and humour of my students. I also appreciate – and identify with – their contrariness. I find working with students in this age group incredibly rewarding.
5. What is one of the biggest challenges for a teacher of teenagers?
I think the biggest priority for me is establishing rapport with a group: it requires patience, sensitivity, tact – and nerve. The greatest day-to-day challenge is undoubtedly handling the element of surprise. You’re never quite sure how students are going to respond to a lesson, topic, or set of activities, so you have to develop a flexible approach.
6. How did you go about planning and writing ETpedia Teenagers?
I spent a lot of time talking to my own teenage daughters. I asked them lots of questions about their school experiences, and listened to what they had to say. I talked to colleagues and students. And I took a long, hard look back at my own teaching over the past 25 years, and tried to put down on paper some of the key things I think I’ve learned about teaching teenagers along the way.
7. What kind of teacher do you think will find this book useful?
I think there’s something there for everyone, and the ideas are certainly intended to be practical and adaptable. I expect, however, that the teachers who will get the most out of the book are the ones who genuinely care about what their teenage students think about their lessons.
8. What did you learn from writing the book?
It was a rare opportunity for sustained reflection and focus: I was totally immersed in the topic while writing the book, and found myself thinking about teaching day and night. And the end of it all, I knew one thing for sure: if I had to start my career all over again, I would again choose to be a teacher of teenagers.
9. What’s your favourite classroom activity in the book?
One that I’ve had lots of positive feedback about is called ‘Speak, pass, or nominate’. It’s deceptively simple and also frustratingly obvious, but I’ve only just recently figured out how important it is to give teenagers the option of not speaking when they are called on to report back after pair-work and small-group work. My technique involves giving them three options: speak, pass, or nominate your partner. Teens really appreciate being offered these options, and are, surprisingly, more inclined to speak up as a result.
10. What’s one piece of good advice that you once received from another teacher about teaching teenagers?
Teenagers will tolerate boring lessons, but they’ll never forgive you for being unfair.
ETpedia Teenages is now available to pre-order for £29.95. Find out more about the title and pre-order yours here.