KISS – Keep It Simple Strategies – Classroom Management for High School Teachers
The challenges for high school teachers come in new flavors, one of which is “no time”. Between quieting a noisy class after the bell rings, students who wander in late, and teenage behavior, you have your job cut out for you! We’ll embrace these challenges one at a time:
Time Management for High School Classes
Block scheduling is one way administrators and high school educators have come up with to maximize the time available to handle complex material. If you’ve been in a school that is migrating to the block, you know how hard it is to adapt to having big chunks of time. You’ve been used to chunking your content into smaller pieces, now you have the luxury (curse) of more time to get your point across.
As a high school Library Media Specialist, I found that migrating to the block caused a big spike in movie borrowing. You may laugh, but it’s a real problem. Teachers are in no mood to change everything they know about time management to a new scheme and they’re going to want some quick fixes. All teachers are going to go through this phase. Resist the temptation if you can.
If time management is a bit of a struggle for you, working with school administrators to develop a block scheduling plan might be one way to approach solving the lack of time issue.
Late and Disruptive Students
My best ways to handle this problem are:
- To place two chairs in the back of the room to act as way-stations for students who come in to the room late – they can make their way to their own seat later, when there’s a logical break in the discourse.
- To ignore the interloper. Don’t start talking to them, they will love the added attention if you do, and might make it a regular event.
- To curb lateness if that is a real problem in your class, try to find out what the cause is and fix it. Otherwise, make it an absence in your grade book. Or three lates make an absence – this will cut down on the problem.
Teenage Behavior Issues
You know the problem, the kid in the back of the room gazing dreamily at the pretty girl in the third row. Another variation is the group in the back that is passing notes during your carefully crafted lesson. Either way, it needs to be discouraged and eliminated. My best advice is:
- Make your lessons so compelling and interesting that the problems never happen in the first place (my favorite) – stick to the script.
- One way to solve these problems is to move around the class – your physical presence is a deterrent to off-task behavior.
- Another strategy for the pen tapping, humming, chair rocking kid, is to stay focused on your lesson. Don’t call attention to the student in question. Move to their side, take away the pen, or put your hand on their shoulder. They will get the message, and may not even be aware they are doing it. The best teacher I ever had used a menacing throat clearing technique that worked, because he never identified the student who caused his sudden noise, you just knew someone had been busted.
For more resources on class management in high school:
Add your tips and suggestions to our growing lists, teachers helping teachers is a great way to go. Check out the rest of our KISS Series here.
Neva Fenno, M.S.Ed., MLIS, has been a special education teacher, school library media specialist, curriculum specialist and grants manager for several urban school districts in New York and Massachusetts for 30 years. As grants manager for 7 years, she managed up to $28,000,000 a year in federal, state, foundation and corporate grants from application through fiscal administration. She has hundreds of stories to tell, not all successes, but from each story there is a lesson to be learned.