Helping the Youth Recognize their True Potential – A Teacher’s Guide

“These kids today with their smartphones, Snapchat and selfies. They have no idea how stressful life can be…”

Yet, as a teacher who only wants what’s best for their student, you know this statement could not be more wrong. If anything, life has only become more stressful for the youth.

Lack of support, overwhelming pressure to compete and not enough care for their health – these are just some of the concerns forcing teenagers to forego their passions and instead only do what they should be doing. That is, exceling in class, just to get ahead.

And that’s the worst thing that can happen.

Students must be taught to harness their own talents. They must be shown the right path, one through which they’ll recognize their true potential. That is the only way we can have a psychologically healthy generation.

What Teachers Can Do

We asked the experts at YWAF or Youth with a Future, an organization that works with students to help them overcome their hardships and find their goals and purpose, to guide us through what teachers can do to help. Here’s a brief summary of their advice:

⦁ Set Higher Expectations

It’s a common practice.
We treat children like children i.e. we treat them as though they don’t have that much intellect or drive to want more. Instead of setting low expectations, show them that you respect their opinion. You’ll often hear teenagers complain that they’re not being taken seriously.
Well, do that. Give your high school students better-grade material. Tell them, “this is taught at a college level but I know you’ll be able to complete this.” You’ll see a major change in their attitude.

⦁ Change It Up

It’s no secret that the school curriculum isn’t like it should be. Change it up. Recommend diverse books, movies and documentaries. Change up your style, interact more with your students and be aware of those who might be too shy to talk to you straight. Maintain diversity in your lessons to keep them from turning monotonous.

⦁ Show Your Students You Care

This is an obvious tip. But it’s how you do it that matters. Focus on every student, including those that have been written off. Show interest in their feelings and experiences. If they’re trying, be excited and show them that you’re happy for them. Be a listening ear for them, and allow them to trust you.

⦁ Be Ready to Help

A student needs help a few days before final? Call them to the library and start teaching. Your job isn’t to just teach, it’s to help and assist your students so they can get better at their studies. If you’ve given a student a C-, ask them to come in after class and show them exactly why they got the grade. Then create a plan with them so can learn more.

⦁ Pay Attention to their Passions

Show them that they don’t need to be bullied by society’s expectations. If a student wants to be an archaeologist instead of a writer, show enthusiasm for their interest and go one step further. Offer them options for colleges in the future. Lack of support for their dreams is major reason why many students end up choosing the wrong major. Show them that they’ll get their support from you, if not from anyone else.

⦁ Encourage Participation in Development Workshops

Take the YWAF Summer Workshop as an example. Aimed at teaching young children about leadership and the qualities of a leader, this workshop not only dispelled some misconceptions about leadership but also showed students, as one put it that “it doesn’t matter what age you are, you can still be a leader”.

Alongside, the summer workshop focused on Stem Technology so students could learn about the four major disciplines i.e. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. This is the type of education our students should be exposed to.

Empower Them!

Pair up with organizations such as YWAF and host urban youth leadership development and empowerment programs and workshops, and ask your students to participate. Teach them that they have every right to follow their passions and dreams!

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