COVID-19: What Your Teen Is or Should Be Thinking – Teacher’s Corner


Teacher’s Corner
This and the next two Teacher’s Corner posts will relate to the COVID-19 crisis. I encourage you to consider how to use these prompts and topics as part of your online lessons during the time that schools are closed.
During these difficult times, all of us are concerned about survival and how our needs will be met. Many teens are absorbing the anxiety of the adults around them. Our teens are confused by all the changes in their lives and the things that are unknown about their future. It is important that we recognize this confusion in our teens and try to reassure them. We need to assure them that adults will take care of them, and we need to teach them what really matters at times like this.
Our teens need to talk about the following things with trusted adults. Perhaps the most important discussion is about values. Our teens need to be taught what their responsibility is in a time of crisis.  They need to understand that the choices they make can affect others in very helpful or very disastrous ways. They need to separate what is real and what is fantasy. They need to get in touch with their empathy and generosity. Long after this threat of COVID-19, it is the impact of these conversations with our teens that will shape their futures and the types of adults they will become.
 The following are writing prompts and discussion topics that can be used with students in the context of all the changes surrounding the COVID-19 virus.
  1. What skills will I really need in the future? What will my future be like? Am I going back to school? What grade will I be in? Can I still go to college or get a job? Can I still follow my interests and talents (the arts, sports, debate, etc.)?
  2.  Exactly what are the rules these days? Who is watching? Are there really any consequences if I don’t follow the rules?
  3.  What are my values? What do I absolutely need and what are the things I just want but could survive without? How important are the needs of others? What happens when the needs of others bump into my needs or wants?  Can I have it all? Health, money, fun – these are universally considered things of value.  In these difficult times, can I or my family have all three of these things? Which of the three is most important? What are my priorities?

Teachers, you can use this blog in classrooms. Here are two ideas about how.

  1. For middle or high school parenting or child development courses:
    • Use the blog for discussion topics
    • Require students to research the topics and agree or disagree with what the blog is suggesting.
  2. For all courses, especially English Language Arts:
  • Use the blog for writing prompts for paragraphs, theme papers, journal entries, class starters, etc. Have students read the blog and respond to:
  • Do you agree with what is being said about kids? Do kids really act, think or feel that way?
  • Do you agree with what is being said about parents, grandparents, teachers and child caregivers? Do or should they act, think or feel that way?
  • What would be your advice on this topic?
  • What was left out of this article?
  • If you were a parent, would you use any of this information? How?
Why can this blog be a useful teaching tool?
  • Students that see connections between their coursework and their lives do better in school.
  • Most students will either be parents one day or have children in their lives that they care about, so the topical information can help them build their knowledge about children and parenting and develop a positive image of the type of parenting they want to do.
  • The new core literacy standards adopted by most states call for frequent writing in all courses.
  • Newly developed end-of-course assessments to be used by many states will require that students demonstrate that they can think critically. These prompts help students practice critical thinking.
  • Newly developed end-of-course assessments to be used by many states will require that students demonstrate that they can analyze what they read. These prompts help students practice analysis.