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Teaching 12-13 year olds



Hello...I am currently re-writing the La County Junior Lifeguard Instructor manual and we are finally including a section on teaching. Teaching at the beach is obviously different than teaching in the classroom, but I was hoping some of you could give me a few helpful hints about teaching kids in this age group. How to connect with them? How to encourage them to learn? tendencies you've noticed? Anything would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


New Member
Teaching Middle School Students

You have an advantage, the kids are there because they are interested in becoming a life guard and need to be there to obtain their goal. Get to know their interest...do a web search for "ice breakers"...for ways to get to know them and their interest.

First of all...remember they are going through many physical and emothional changes during this awkward time in their lives.
Due to constant media exposure [or being raised by TV or video games] they're exposed to many more things then we were at their age. Don't forget the instant gratification factor...lack of patience. A lot of them lack the ability of taking responsibility for their actions; some don't know/don't feel confident enough to learn to be independent. Does that make sence?

Talk with them one-on-one or in small groups, and get to know them on an individual level. When kids realize you have a genuine interest in them and their success they usually work a lot harder. Remind them that you believe in them and that when they doubt themselves or feels that no one cares to think of you.

1. Be EXTREMELY SPECIFIC of your expectations [and consequences if not completed by deadlines] of them. [In education, we call it a Rubric.]

a.) Break it down to the SMALLEST detail [it may seem trivial as an adult, but remember we have a lot more knowledge and are less afraid to ask questions].
b.) Some/Most students seem to lack the self-confidence and having it broken down for them assist them by allowing them to have a check-off list.
c.) The list benefits students by allowing them to learn how to take responsibility and it allows room for independence
d)[each teenager is different and they each have their own learning style that works for him/her, so if they know what's expected then they can learn it the info in their best learing style.

a] They have a need to know "WHY" [I'm going to refrain from making a comment!] and usually once they understand "why" they are learning something or completing an activity their willingness to particpate and interest level improves.

b] They can't sit for a long time, [every 90 min. need major activity/ they can only pay attention in roughly 15 min at a time] especially if it's boring paperwork stuff.

c] Make PowerPoint presentations with different backgrounds and animation to hold their attention. The animation can either be how the words/sentences are added on the page, or actual animated pictures. Yes, this does take time to put together, however, once it's completed you can save it to a disk and use it over and over again...and it's easy to make changes!

d] It's sometimes good to have instructional time in the morning and then after a break/lunch have them interacting and doing the physical activities.

e] They like hand-on activities.

If they're bored then they are being disruptive or sleeping...either way, they're not learning.

It's great that you're looking for this imput. You could always contact local school and ask the counselors & or administrators for assistance. Even ask for some "guinne pig" students to provide feedback.

I hope this helps! Good luck!


I teach 8th grade language arts and I've found that if you let students pick what they want to study or give them a list of topics to choose from then they are apt to be more receptive to the lessons. Hope this helps.



I too teach 8th grade Lang. Arts. However, I found that if I gave my students the freedom to pick what they wanted to write about, they tended to take too long to select a topic which ended up in a rushed and sloppy piece. This next year, I plan to give very specific instructions with parameters, mainly no doom and gloom! Some students seem to like writing about very private things that required my turning the pieces over to the counselor (hints of abuse). These incidents turned out to be mainly overexaggerated or fabricated. I will definitely provide a list of topics that they cannot deviate from. I am aware that no matter what is on the list, there will be a few that have nothing to say about any of the topics. Those are the students that need to have their hand held and walked through every assignment that requires a little thought and planning. But I'm glad to do it if it will help!


This last year I made the same mistake. I thought that if I gave me students the freedom to pick their own topic the end result would be better. I learned that is not always the case, as you said they take to long and can't make up their minds. I think this year I will give very specific guidelines and be much more structured.