Teaching in High Schools
High school teachers have the opportunity to focus their teaching efforts on a particular subject matter, while also making a huge impact on their students' lives. The follow tips will help those teaching in high schools to maximize their time and make the greatest impact on their students:
1. Get to Know Your Students
Take the time to get to know your students. Find out what their interests are, and ask them questions about the things you know they enjoy. This small effort on your part will go a long way toward building relationships with your students that are based upon mutual respect.
2. Know What You Stand For
High school students have a keen ability to detect integrity. Make sure that you present yourself to your students as a consistent presence, and that you stand firm in your beliefs as an educator. Be careful not to compromise your integrity in an effort to please a parent or student in the moment.
3. Incorporate a Variety of Teaching Methods
Don't limit your teaching style to one form of instruction. Even though you're dealing with high school students, it's important to vary your teaching methods to include strategies for all types of learners, including auditory learners, visual learners, and kinesthetic learners.
4. Provide Extra Help as Needed
Because, as a high school teacher, you are presenting advanced levels of material, you may have students from time to time who need additional help mastering a skill or concept. In order to ease the burden on yourself, while also helping as many students as you can, publish a set of "office hours" to let students and parents know how and when you are available for extra help. For example, plan to stay after school for 45 minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so that students can drop in as needed to discuss a problem or get help in a specific area of your class.
5. Use E-mail to Communicate with Parents
Make sure that you verify your students' parents' e-mail addresses and phone numbers at the beginning of the school year, so that you can easily get in contact with them if a problem arises.
6. Make Use of Your School's Online Grade-Reporting System
If your school uses an online grade reporting system, such as Infinite Campus, make sure that you use it consistently. In addition, let parents know how to access it and whether they need a personal password to get into the system. This form of communication puts the responsibility for improving grades on the students, rather than on you, because students and parents have immediate access to grades and assignments.
7. Be Clear About Your Expectations
Let your students know up front what you expect of them, and what consequences you will apply if they do not meet your standards. This is particularly important when it comes to class attendance and the completion of assignments during student absence.
8. Have a Plan for Getting Work to Absent Students
Particularly during flu season, there will be times when you have several students out, for several days at a time. Make sure that they know up front how to access the work they've missed, and whether they need to meet with you one-on-one for additional help. One way to make this process easier for everyone is to post assignments online so that students can easily keep up with missed assignments when they are absent.
9. Involve Parents, Too
Even though you're dealing with high school students, it's still important to include their parents in the work that you are doing. You can do this by posting student portfolios online, personally inviting parents to attend parent-teacher conferences, and calling home or e-mailing parents to share good news about their child now and then.
10. View Your Class from Your Students' Perspective
Every now and then, take a look at your class from your students' point of view. Remember that, as high school students, they have a lot going on in their lives. Is the amount of homework you assign respectful of their need to complete work for other classes, maintain friendships, and sustain family connections, as well? And do you make every effort to relate your coursework to your students' real lives, and prepare them for the future? Keeping these goals in mind will help you maintain a foundation of mutual respect with your students, while teaching your subject matter at the same time.
Finally, high school teachers have one of the most important and challenging jobs on the planet – preparing adolescents for adulthood. Always remember your vital role, and recognize that it goes far beyond the lessons and coursework you are presenting.