High School Teaching Strategies

Putting High School Teaching Strategies to Work

High school teaching strategies assume that you are working with and teaching young adults.  If you have experienced teaching at different levels within a school district, you know that you’ve got to be flexible and change how you present material depending on your audience.  What works with elementary students doesn’t always fly with the high school kids. Here is a quick look at how the brains of those mysterious teenagers actually work…

Understanding the Teen Brain Infographic
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Some ideas for inspiring students

Strategies for Teaching High School Students

You’ve got to know who your audience is in business, and in teaching. When you are teaching high school students, you are dealing with a bunch of folks who are on the doorstep of adulthood. True, many of them might not act anything like mature adults, but they are at an age where they are starting to feel more grown up. They are starting to stretch themselves. Some are highly motivated and pushing themselves forward toward their futures… others, not so much.

Like it or not, this is your audience now. Treating them like they are in elementary or middle school just won’t work very well. Some of them will quietly endure such teaching methods, but many will bristle and perceive such an approach as condescending. That isn’t a formula for classroom success. You certainly still need to have well established classroom behavior expectations and rules, but starting the year by demonstrating your iron fist to these young men and women is only going to earn you a lot of grief from the students, and maybe even from their parents and your administrators.

Classroom Management for High School Students

I don’t want this post to focus on management skills for teachers. I want to investigate interesting ways to engage learners and encourage learning. With that said however, nothing good is going to happen in your classroom if there are not some clear rules and expectations.

Make Expectations Clear for Learning and Behavior

You’ve probably got over twenty kids (at least) in each of your classes. If you don’t give them some rules and clearly establish your expectations, what do you think will happen? It isn’t likely that they will come together and organize themselves in such a way that you’ll be pleased with the results. On that first day, they expect to hear what the class is going to be like. This is your big moment. Possibly the most important 40 minutes of the school year. Explain classroom policies and expectations. Tell your students what specific consequences and rewards can be expected. Write it all down and give them a copy. Attach it to a syllabus. You might even want to require a parental signature on this document, just in case issues pop up later in the year.

Do you want the students to be a part of the rule making process? That’s fine. Just type up the agreed upon terms for the next day and make that your classroom charter. Make the rules clear, post them, and stick to them from the very next day of class. Keep it simple. If you are tempted to make this a long, complicated process, filled with threats and drama, don’t. Why? Just picture yourself sitting in an in-service meeting listening to the same speech you are about to give coming from your administrators. How does that make you feel in your stomach? That’s why.

Methods for Creating Successful High School Lessons

Every high school building has at least a few hard core teachers who won’t adapt to what our world has become. Like it or not, the youth of today have been raised in a world filled with computers,how to teach high school smart phones, and tons of interactive entertainment options that require an attention span of about 3 seconds. Is that a good thing? Probably not, in my opinion, but it is what it is. These students are NOT going to react well to a 40 minute droning lecture given by someone who seems bored with the subject himself. Very few people have ever enjoyed this presentation method…EVER. Why not consider some teaching methods that get the students more involved?

Students Working Together in the Classroom

If you, as a high school teacher, spend every class period standing at the front of the room lecturing the entire time, you might just be doing your students a disservice. Think about this for a second. How do people learn and work together in the “real” world as adults? How are new ideas and innovations created? Usually, progress happens when people work together to combine their creativity and understanding of a problem. Why not let your students do this in your classroom?

There are many ways that you can apply new and innovative approaches in your classroom. Encouraging peer interaction and collaboration is a great way to start. Don’t sell your students short. Some of them have excellent communication skills and they might just be able to get YOUR message across to their peers if they are given the chance to explain things during an in class project.  This high school teaching strategy wouldn’t work very well with early elementary students, but most students older than primary age really enjoy the chance to get up and try something different in class.

Putting Technology to Use

Let’s face it. Smart phones are only going to get smarter. Most of the kids in your classroom probably have them already, and unless your school has a policy against having them in class, chances are good that the majority of your high school students are bringing them with them every day. Too bad there isn’t an app that works like one of those pencils they never seem to bring with them, huh?

Have you ever considered letting your students show off their amazing smart phone research skills in class? Instead of fight them, give an in-class assignment (make groups if you have to) that actually encourages students to use their phones for their own education. Are you still having students turn in basic written papers on subjects they don’t care about? How about encouraging them to show off their tech skills by putting together a multi-media presentation?

Back to the Instructional Strategies List for Teachers.

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