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Dealing with young adults


Hi lovely training people!

I've recently taken on a group of 16 - 18 yr olds and I find it hard to keep them engaged on the task in hand, I want to teach goal setting, developing a positive attitude, employability skills and how to act professionally. Currently what I find works for them is: group discussion, presenting back on a flip chart, and role play. (Also, unfortunatley, the good vs. bad behaviour chart is working well).

Any other ideas so I don't get too predicatable?

They always get a bit twichy in the afternoon and really bad an hour before the end so I could do with some games / ideas to make them want to be there.

Thank you!

6 Responses

  1. challenging pairs

    Hi Verity

    Have you tried getting them to work in challenging pairs?

    give them a task; eg to set themselves a SMART goal for something….let them do this individually (it is a good "homework" topic if that fits with the logistics of the group)

    pair them off with an A person and a B person

    A explains their SMART Goal to B and B challenges each aspect of it…..the challenges can range from "I don’t think that is specific enough!" to "How will you measure that?" or "What other ways did you consider for measurement and why did you discard them?" through to "Is that the soonest you could achieve that?"  Give them say 10 minutes to get through the complete cycle

    Than have a plenary discussion about the outcomes; "who has actually decided that the challenger was "right"?".. "what changes would you make to your goal now?"

    Then change the pairs (so they don’t just tit-for-tat each other) and repeat

    Potentially this also give them the opportunity to practise further skills in questioning, listening, analysis

    I hope this helps



  2. Get Creative

    Hi Verity

    If they are creative they may enjoy creating collages, posters or 3d models to represent certain areas you are exploring. They could even create mini dramas, videos or stills which are photographed. Other things could be for them to create their own guide to a subject.

    For things like dressing the part for a job or interview, they could use magazines or even their own clothes and a mannequin to create an outfit which they bring in for discussion.

    For acting professionally, you could get them to list all the behaviours that they can think of that are not professional and then reverse them into what they think they should do, eg;

    Not turn up late becomes turn up early to make sure we are on time.

    For positive attitude it may be helpful for them to think of individuals they think are positive and bring in a photograph (with the persons permission of course) and present what makes that person positive and the effect it has on others. A great reference book is Fish!

    I hope these ideas help and good luck!


  3. Try acting related activities and tasks

    I have delivered programmes to this age group and did a year as a teacher at an FE college covering business studies so I have developed a few approaches that work and could be used to cover the topics you describe.

    Ask them to design a comedy sketch between 5 and 10 minutes in length with about 45 minutes to prepare, they must produce any supporting props, visuals etc. 
    Topics they like to work with are:
    * An episode from a soap 
    * Favorite film/play 
    * Comedy show
    * Pantomime 
    You will laugh a lot and be surprised at how much of the information they can cram into the sketch.
    You can ask them to include specific phrases or punch lines.
    Goal setting – a variation of the Disney creative process with groups of dreamers, planners and critics.    
    Positive attitude / employability (interview skills) / acting professionally – ask one group to prepare a press launch and one group to be the journo’s who have to try and undermine the presenting group just by using questions. 
    Professional behaviour – Judge and Jury – Have a court with a judge, lawyer for defense and prosecution, a jury and defendant and witnesses.  The defendant and their team have to defend an aspect of behaviour which is clearly not seen as professional. As the case progresses more and more ideas should come forward to support or challenge the behaviour helping those taking part to understand the various viewpoints that may arise and affect them.      
    Cheers, Nick
  4. Sketch idea

    Hi Verity


    Following on from Nick’s idea about a comedy sketch, you could give each group a box of props that they have to incorporte into their sketch. Make it a competition, the more they incorporate, the more points they get. Make the props as random as you can. It’s amazing how creative they can be.



  5. training young people

    Hi there, a very interesting question and an interesting challenge, however, I am sure others will agree, it doesn’t matter what age people are, if they are going to disengage, they will!  Our job as trainers, in my humble opinion and experience is to;

    • keep the pace at the level the group needs it to be
    • keep the learning points clear so people know why they are doing what is being asked of them
    • show benefits of learning this – ask group for examples of how they would use it in their day to day work
    • relate to personal life; friends etc, i.e. have you ever dealt with a friend who has had a negative atittide, what did you do, how did you talk to them, what words did you choose
    • most people want to know what the benefits are to them – ask them what benefits they want out of their learning – is it about making more money, getting a good job etc use this to relate back the exercises
    • Use the more interactive exercises in the afternoon – get them on their feet – use cards, video, questions to each other, role plays, competitive group exercises etc to keep the levels up.

    As for the "last hour" issue – set this out at the start of the day that they are there until an exact time so they know and keep the most fun exercises until the last hour, use props, movement, discussion, interaction etc – for example, to feedback as small groups what they have learnt today, last 2 days etc, in the style of a news team and be as creative as they want.

    I hope this helps.


  6. How to engage young adults

    I have heard that this book is good.


    You could also check out the Geoff Petty website for lots of useful and practical ideas using "medal and mission" approaches.

    Personally I have extended SMART to SMARTIES where the last 3 stand for "Implemented" i.e do you follow up with them to make sure they are on track, "Evaluated" i.e. check that the action is still relevant, and "Supported" i.e. don’t just tell them what tyou want but provide appropirate levels of support to help them move in that direction.

    George Arkless FE Consultant and Trainer.

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