On the 13th birthday, children come out of their rooms and you won't know who they are and neither will they. They may look like sweet twelve year-olds, but they will suddenly be complete strangers. Welcome to the teenage years.
The teenage years are a powerful and complex time; they are met by teens and adults alike with confusion, misunderstanding, and anxiety. Parents fear the teen years and worry about what will happen to their relationships with their children when they hit “thirteen.” Family and friends with grown children look at new parents “knowingly” and say, “Just wait until he/she hits the teens!” The “teenager as stranger to parents” theme runs through innumerable coming-of-age films from Rebel
Without a Cause (1955) to Thirteen (2003). There are many books on the subject—both fiction and nonfiction—that illustrate various points of view on this complex time.
I am affectionately called “Patzer” by my students; I have raised two children of my own and have been teaching high school for 30 years. For the past ten years, I have taught Psychology of Success. One of my students, a recipient of the Presidential Scholar Award, describes this course in her essay “What teacher has influenced you the most significantly?”:
“In Psychology of Success, Patzer teaches her students more than just the
elements of success. She teaches students how to take responsibility for their
actions. She demonstrates how the powers of forgiveness and acceptance can overcome
the power of hate. She helps students find the confidence to believe in themselves
and the desire and abilities to achieve their goals. She teaches students that
they deserve respect and love, and they should never accept less. The lessons
Patzer has taught me will carry me far into my adult life, and will help me overcome
problems in the years to come.”
My enthusiasm is unbridled, “I love teenagers. I love their energy and being in their company.” Teenagers:
Unlocking Personal Power brings others into the world of loving teenagers through developing and deepening their relationships. In the words of one of my students:
"I always wanted one of those teachers you read about that you remember forever—both
because of who they are and what they give you. You are that teacher! I think
this class has saved my life!"
Teenagers: Unlocking Personal Power, shares my approach to understanding and guiding teens. Although the basis of my philosophy relies on communication skills that are effective in any relationship, I examine these skills and offers insights into the particular complexities of the teen years that create obstacles in the simplest interactions.
Teenagers: Unlocking Personal Power contains case studies that I have collected over my years working with teens and their families. All the names and identifying details have been changed without affecting the integrity of the illustration. In some instances, I have created composites in order to further disguise the identity of the individuals.
My approach works. It has worked with thousands of teens over three decades. This approach has been so successful that I have earned the title “Teen Guru” in my community.
A former student shares her feelings about using Personal Power to deal with a crisis:
I don’t know if you remember me, but I took Psychology of Success a few years ago. I just want to tell you how much your class was good for me then and now too. I was in a car wreck almost seven weeks ago. I hit a tree. My seatbelt saved my life. My injuries were all pretty minor except for my brain. Even that damage is expected to be temporary. Remembering what I learned in your class has helped me every day. I even have a list of goals for each day and some more long-term recovery goals. Taking responsibility for all of my choices helps a lot. I work hard every day reading and writing. I am getting better slowly, but even my doctors see improvement. So, however painful and frustrating or even scary it is—it’s working. My choice to see it as an opportunity and less as an obstacle has made it better, too. I don’t
think that I would be in as good of a spot as I am now without your class. You
showed me the tools and gave me practice so I could save my hope. Thanks Patzer,
I think you saved my life.
Colleagues, parents, and teenagers all notice that I have a “gift” for working with teens. My techniques can be shared and learned and—with practice—can create an environment where teens and the people in their lives can embrace this dynamic time of life with joy, instead of fear and conflict. Teenagers:
Unlocking Personal Power demystifies my approach and provides moving examples from my years of experience to clearly illustrate my method.
As Melinda, age 17, realized after taking Psychology of Success:
“You know what’s cool, Patzer? Now I know what I want to do for a living.
I want to be like you. I want to help teenagers help themselves.”
Midge Patzer has worked with teenagers for thirty years. She is a public high school teacher, life coach, mentor, and friend to thousands of adolescents across the country. Ms. Patzer has a master’s degree in Arts and Humanities and has raised two successful children. Ms. Patzer resides in Sun Valley, Idaho, with her husband and their two dogs.
Ms. Patzer developed her groundbreaking course, Psychology of Success, in 1993 as a response to the needs of the many troubled teenagers who were turning to her for help. The course, which focuses on unlocking Personal Power, was an immediate hit and is viewed by many students as their most significant educational learning experience. In 2001, she was chosen by the senior class as the graduation keynote speaker and in 2003 Midge was honored with a Presidential Scholars Program Teacher Recognition Award.
Ms. Patzer has focused her professional development on character education, has earned multiple certificates in the field, and teaches private character education seminars and workshops to a variety of audiences throughout the country.
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