I taught ages 11 to 18 so they were old enough to be sparky, sarcastic, to understand my sense of humour, defend their opinions and articulate all sorts of weird and wacky ideas!
Teenagers get a lot of bad press but having worked with them for over a decade, I can safely say they are (mostly) a wonderful section of society to work with! I’ll never forget how my sixth formers reacted when I told them I was pregnant. They were wonderful! One boy spent five whole months offering to push me round the school on my wheelie chair. Yes, sometimes I accepted!
The rapport you can build with some students is incredible. Sometimes that spark isn’t there, admittedly, but other times, the mutual respect created over time leads to being able to teach in a way that doesn’t even feel like work. I was lucky enough to teach a sixth form class of four, and at the start of each lesson I’d send one of them to the canteen to get us all a coffee and we’d have a quick “is everything OK with you guys?” before starting the lesson. Looking back, I think fondly of these moments which completely override any negatives.
There are, of course, students you get along with and those you don’t. There are supportive families and less supportive ones (“I’ve told my son not to bother in your lessons because it’s not a useful subject!”). And there are students you enjoy having in your classroom and those you don’t. We had the “cupboard kids”, so called because you could lock them in a cupboard for the year and they’d still come out with top grades- a little boring perhaps but a dream to have in your class! Then there were the “always there” kids who would linger after the lesson to chat or pop up at break time inevitably with a very easy to solve issue that took the whole of break for them to explain, the sporty ones who always missed lessons for games, the keenos, that chatty ones, the troublemakers.
But my favourites (yes, we all have favourites and anyone who says they don’t is LYING!) were the “triers”, the ones who so desperately wanted to please and do well but none of it came naturally and they just struggled with it all. They were the ones who would have the lightbulb moments, whose parents would thank you at parents evenings (I don’t miss parents evenings!) and who would look at their grades at the end of term- which may well be the lowest in the class- with pride, knowing that they worked their socks off to get them, and each exam question they got right was something that you as a teacher had somehow managed to get them to understand and retain.
So to summarise, kids are wonderful, haha!