So You’re Teaching High School… Do’s and Don’ts

So You’re Teaching High School… Do’s and Don’ts

Oh high school. The years of our lives that either made us or broke us. For some, it was the years where we made our first “forever” friends; for others, it’s the years where we experienced some of life’s hardest lessons and heartaches. Starting off as a teacher for this group is perhaps the most variable. Depending on your interactions with them can enhance their own experiences for the better (or for the worse). While you are only with them for perhaps a 40 minute- an hour period a day, it is really important that you understand your students as who they are as people instead of focusing solely on your curriculum.

High school students are not formulaic. They are volatile with their thoughts and beliefs (which change every single day!) so you’re curriculum can’t be scripted. They can see right through whether you know what you’re doing and whether you’re reading word for word from someone else’s curriculum. Instead, make sure you really know your stuff (like don’t make the lesson plan the night before) and try to involve your students’ input as much as possible.

A good day way to include them is have them select books for reading groups based on their interests, give different options for completing subject projects, provide different types of classroom settings (lecture, discussion circles, think-pair-share), etc.

If you are unsure how to really assess your students’ interests to frame your lessons or units, be sure to give them the following during the first initial months of school:

  • A interest survey
  • A diagnostic academic test
  • Have students help plan a field trip
  • End of lesson reflections/improvement slips
  • Have a feedback meeting


These little additions from your classroom can really help with showing your students that you are genuinely interested in their needs and interests and it gives them a way to take ownership of their learning.


Let me make this very clear. You are their teacher; you are not their friend. It may be very tempting to try and be the “cool” teacher who befriends their students, BUT DON’T DO IT.

There is no faster way to lose classroom management or respect of your students than by trying to be their friend. You could have the best lessons or activities but it still wont matter. They’ll know that you’re more worried about whether they like you than teaching and that’s not how this works.

You’re in the classroom to ensure that each student is learning, not to be his or her friend. If you’re willing to sacrifice classroom management for their approval of you, they will never respect you. From the get-go they need to understand that while you want them to enjoy your class, there is a list of rules that they must follow in order to be successful.  And you have to enforce them. If you keep giving warnings upon warnings, they won’t take you seriously. There is a separate blog that will be devoted more specifically to classroom management strategies, but you need to keep this in mind especially with this group. Be firm but fair and they will respect you. They will also appreciate it more than you trying to be their friend.

There you have it! Two quick tips that is going to set you apart immediately from the rest!

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