We have attempted to categorize below the different types of issues and concerns you may encounter when leading a group of teenagers. We also suggest some possible responses to these as they crop up; however, rely on your best judgment in dealing with these situations if they arise.
The person who has an answer and opinion for everything.
- Avoid fighting. Ask other group members for their opinions: “How do other people feel about that?”
- Emphasize that teaching is the responsibility of everyone in the group, and others with knowledge, provided they don’t get the group off-track, are welcome.
- Always admit that you don’t know something if you don’t.
The person who never says much and does not seem to be part of the group.
- Avoid saying, “We’ve not heard much from Amy. Amy how do you feel?” Try going around the room, asking everyone, including them, how they feel about something.
- A non-talker often becomes involved if allowed to work in smaller groups so they can get to know people.
- Try to talk to her during breaks to find out what causes the silence. It could be the result of shyness, disinterest, or any number of things.
Takes a lot of time to say nothing; tells stories, etc.
- Thank him for the contribution and ask a question which brings the discussion back to the main topic: “What
would this illustrate about the topic under discussion?”
- If he continues, interrupt tactfully and ask, “I’m not sure if you’re saying A or B…”
- Interrupt tactfully and say that you’re not following what he is saying very well. “Would someone else in the
room help you understand the point that was being made?”
- When all else fails, you are in charge and can limit each person’s time to three or four minutes, if need be.
The Fighter or Arguer
The person who opposes everything the leader suggests.
- Don’t fight or argue back, that will just make things worse. Instead, check out the statements with the group: “How many people share this opinion and want to do this?”
- Try to move the disagreement outside the group if possible. “Is it clear that you and I just don’t agree on this? As I really don’t want to occupy any more of the group’s time on it, can we continue this discussion immediately following this activity?”
The person who talks constantly to the people next to them.
- Often, activities such as small group sessions, which are built by random numbering will break up the
cliques which encourage talking.
- Frequently, it’s best simply to stop the session and wait until the group quiets down, or address yourself directly to one of the people involved and ask for their opinion or ask what they are talking about if it gets really disruptive.