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Classroom Management Ideas for High School Teachers

Updated on January 7, 2012

classroom management strategies

If you’re a new teacher, or if you’re planning on becoming a teacher, you should already realize the importance of classroom management. At the high school level, classroom management presents its own set of challenges. With younger students, you might have to worry about things like students’ running around the room with scissors or coloring on the walls. Obviously, these won’t be issues with high school students, but there will be other problems. If teachers could handpick their students, they’d choose a group of well behaved, highly motivated, respectful teens. We don’t have the advantage of choosing such students, however, so we teachers must learn to manage all sorts of students. That’s why a classroom management system is so important.

A great classroom management plan will make your life a heck of a lot easier!
A great classroom management plan will make your life a heck of a lot easier!

What is classroom management

What is classroom management? Classroom management is the process of managing a group of students in a particular class. The object of classroom management systems is to ultimately create an environment that’s conducive to learning. The key to any effective classroom management plan is discipline. Of course, discipline is a broad term that includes many components. Students should be on task, engaged in the lesson, and respectful to the teacher. They should also be respectful to other students in the class. A good classroom management plan will also address things like tardies, sleeping in class, and excessive bathroom breaks.

Importance of classroom management

The importance of classroom management can’t be stressed enough. No matter how well you know your subject matter, if your students aren’t in the proper learning environment, your teaching efforts will be largely in vain. For example, if you have twenty-nine motivated, eager, and well behaved students, with a single majorly disruptive student, the entire lesson will be in jeopardy for the whole class. On a more individual basis, a student who isn’t engaged in the learning process will be left behind, so to speak.

A good classroom management plan will benefit the teacher as much as it does her students. Teaching is demanding enough with a group of attentive students. And when you throw a couple of class clowns or other miscreants into the mix, the teacher’s job will be almost impossible without classroom management strategies. Hopefully, you understand the importance of classroom management.

Classroom management strategies for high school students

You’ll need a special set of classroom management strategies for high school students. Dealing with teenagers is much different than dealing with younger students. Most teens are smart, savvy, and sometimes prone to bad attitudes. Some are rebellious to authority figures, and a teacher is definitely seen as an authority figure. Many teens are also extremely sensitive to peer pressure and worry about the image they portray to their fellow students. High school students can usually tell when a teacher has genuine concern for them, too. If you’re not excited about your subject and are just teaching for a paycheck, it won’t take long for savvy teens to pick up on this. Keep all these things in mind when you’re coming up with your classroom management ideas.

I’m a retired high school teacher who taught British literature and writing to seniors for years. I loved teaching and rarely had any discipline problems. Was it because I was so strict? No, I wasn’t overly strict. In fact, I was pretty laid back. I had only a few important rules in my classroom management plan, but those rules were strictly enforced, and they were enforced consistently. My students knew exactly what to expect with my classroom management system. I’ll give you a few classroom management tips that worked for me. Use my ideas as guidelines only – you need to come up with your own classroom management systems, based on your students, your subject, and your individual teaching style.

Classroom management systems: maturity

I found that appealing to my students’ maturity level was often beneficial when creating a classroom management plan. For example, on the first day of school, I’d let the students sit wherever they wanted. I explained to them that we wouldn’t use a seating chart unless one became necessary. I addressed bathroom breaks in the same manner. On the first day of class, I told them I hoped that they had reached the age when going to the bathroom wasn’t seen as a fun activity.

I also explained to my students that the better behaved they were, the more “fun stuff” they’d get to do. This was a strong selling point for me. I loved making learning fun, and with a good group of students, I could do all sorts of interesting activities. Each year, my classes hosted a Renaissance fair for the entire faculty and student body. It was a day-long event with food booths, live entertainment, jousting knights on horses, archery contests, and other activities. My seniors knew that if they weren’t on their Ps and Qs, they wouldn’t get to participate in the fun.

Classroom management systems: rules

As I’ve already mentioned, it’s best to have just a few classroom rules. I’ve also found that the rules are best when the students have some input. That gives them a sense of “ownership.” Empower the students by allowing them to help you create a classroom rule or two. Post the rules and place them in a prominent place in the classroom.

Once your classroom rules are established and posted, enforce them. Make sure the students know the consequences for breaking the classroom rules. For example, with minor infractions, you might have a three-strike process. The first strike could be a student-teacher conference out in the hall, the second strike might result in a call to the parents, and the third strike could result in a discipline referral to an administrator. Obviously, major infractions probably wouldn’t use a three-strike class management system. Depending on the offense, a very disruptive student might need to be removed immediately from the classroom.

Classroom management strategies: enforcement

Enforce your classroom rules consistently and fairly. It’s important not to show partiality. Also, it’s important not to “talk down” to students. When you have to confront a student, do so in private and never in front of the rest of the class. Don’t get into an oral battle with a student, either. Remember – you’re the boss, and your classroom rules are the law. And since the students helped you come up with the classroom rules, you expect the rules to be followed.

Sometimes contacting parents can be a great way to create a partner for your classroom management strategies. Most parents want their children to be successful in school, which means the students need to be learning instead of misbehaving. Unfortunately, you’ll occasionally find a parent who isn’t the least bit concerned about their child’s education. Hard to believe, I know, but it’s true. I’ve actually had parents tell me that they didn’t care what their kids did at school – that was my problem. If you can get the parents to be members of the leaning team, however, you’ll find that they can be powerful allies.

Classroom management systems and lesson plans

You’ll be surprised at how much your lesson plans can affect your classroom management plan. In most cases, when kids are actively involved in learning, they’re not interested in misbehaving, sleeping, or chatting. Time management and classroom management ideas go hand in hand. This is especially important if your school is on the block scheduling system, as mine was. My classes lasted for ninety minutes, so it would have been easy for students to get bored and off task.

To keep students engaged, make your lessons as interesting and as fun as possible. Let’s face it – even most adults have trouble sitting through a long lecture, and it’s even more difficult for young people. Their minds might be on dating, work, sports, friends, or video games. When it comes to your lesson plans, mix it up! You might divide your class into time for lecture, time for independent study or reading, and time for group work or a class discussion.

There’s no one specific classroom management system that works for everyone. All students and teachers are different, and you’ll have to find classroom strategies that work well with your personality. Put some major thought and effort into your classroom management plan before trying to implement it. Once you’re confident that you’re on the right track, be serious and committed to your classroom rules. It’s sometimes easy to let things slide, but don’t be tempted to take the easy way out. In the long run, your classroom management plan will be well worth all the work you put into it. An effective classroom management plan will ultimately benefit everyone involved, so it’s a win-win situation.

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    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      4 years ago from Georgia

      Wow, Matt! Glad you survived!

    • profile image

      Matt Paris 

      4 years ago

      These are definitely useful tips for new teachers. I did my student teaching in an inner-city school. Talk about baptism by fire in classroom management.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      Livewirez, I'm glad you found the hub useful. I agree about lesson plans. Don't you just love working with teenagers?

    • livewirez profile image

      Romel Tarroza 

      5 years ago from Pearl of the Orient Sea

      I really find this hub Useful.. I am a high school teacher as well. You are right teaching high school student is really much different because some of this kids are already mature.

      You know during the first day of my class I already imposed some rules to students. This are things that they shouldn't do during class hour etc. and your right having a good lesson plan will help a lot..

      Thanks for sharing your idea...

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      Hi, Sonny, Great to hear from someone "in the trenches"!

    • sonnyhodgin profile image

      Sonny Hodgin 

      5 years ago from Indiana

      Hi there. I'm a high school teacher myself, and I found this hub to be very helpful. Thanks for writing and sharing!

      Best,

      Sonny

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Hi, H! Thanks for reading!

    • profile image

      6 years ago

      This is very very helpful! Thanks from Mexico :)

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      I'm sorry, I thought you were referring to Lawrence KOHLBERG, whose theories are based on Socratic development and moral education. I'm not familiar with Kholberg.

      http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1990-32049-001

    • freemarketingnow profile image

      freemarketingnow 

      6 years ago from California

      What do you mean by "ready?" It's a pretty simple concept. In fact, the teacher that I learned it from teaches it to his fifth graders (Rafe Esquith: Teach Like Your Hair is on Fire). I'm not sure why you referenced socratic-like methods; that had nothing to do with my comment. No, I have not heard the jokes or cartoons.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Many thanks, teaches. Always good to "see" you!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Trinity. Good luck in you career!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      freemarket, most new teachers aren't quite ready for Kohlberg, and unfortunately, a Socratic-like method is somewhat frowned upon in many US states. Haven't you seen/heard the jokes/cartoons about his failing the TEMs? lol

    • freemarketingnow profile image

      freemarketingnow 

      6 years ago from California

      This is pretty standard material that's good for teachers that are starting out: rules, consequences, and consistent enforcement. I also like that the best system is a good lesson plan. I would push your thinking here though. What about teaching them character? What about going through Lawrence Kholberg's 6 Levels? Do we really want our children behaving on Levels 1 and 2 and doing behavior modification on a system of rewards and punishment, or should they aim higher and continue to do good even after we teach them?

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      You are right on target with making interesting and having them help make the rules. I also have found that you have very little problems when you respect each other and plan ahead. Your fair idea is terrific!

    • profile image

      TrinityCat 

      6 years ago

      Very useful. Might come in handy when I'll begin my career as an English Teacher. Glad you made this hub! :)

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks a bunch, alocsin!

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 

      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Some good ideas for managing an often unruly group. Voting this Up and Useful.

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