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Managing a high school classroom effectively comes with a host of challenges that elementary school teachers rarely have to face.

While high school students are obviously more self-sufficient than their younger counterparts, it is important to understand that adolescence can be an emotionally turbulent time for young people and can impact classroom dynamics.

Are you looking for new ways to manage your high school classroom effectively? Check out our 14 helpful tips below.

1. Let them know who is in charge

It’s natural for teenagers to want to push back against authority and this is something you will have to handle as a high school teacher. If you start to notice a lack of respect from your students, remind them that you are the leader and are there to help them learn. Any students that fail to recognize this should be disciplined in an appropriate manner.

2. Don’t try to be friends with students

Remember that there is a distinct difference between being a helpful mentor and being a friend and that this line should not be crossed. Students need a stable adult to help guide them through their high school years and buddying up with them will only get in the way of this.

3. Set boundaries early on

Kids deserve to know your behavior expectations from the first day in your classroom. To remind them of expectations and boundaries, try setting them out clearly on a poster.

If you need help coming up with some rules, this article may offer some inspiration.

4. Be consistent and treat students equally

Having favorite students or failing to discipline students consistently will breed resentment in the classroom and could encourage pupils to act out. To avoid this, ensure that your rules are applied fairly and that you are always conscious of treating students equally.

5. Do not share too many details about your personal life

Sharing vague details about what you got up to at the weekend or your favorite meal can generally be considered safe. However, try to avoid sharing intimate details about your family, partner or financial situation, for example, as this will break down the professional barriers you need to maintain.

Remember that exuding an air of mystery will generally work in your favor.

6. Don’t patronize your students

Remember that high school students are nearing adulthood and that talking down to them will make them feel disrespected. Indeed, underestimating the intelligence of your students will irritate your students and could foster a hostile classroom environment. Instead, treat them as independent-minded young adults.

7. Follow through on your promises

Do not promise any rewards or punishments if you are not absolutely sure you will be able to go follow them through. Failing to keep promises can undermine your authority and could result in students losing faith in your teaching abilities.

Remember that students need a reliable presence in the classroom to build their academic confidence and help them flourish into strong young adults.

8. Respect the individuality of your students

Most teenagers start to experiment with their personal style and identity during high school, and it is important that you do not get in the way of this. Expecting conformity from students can knock their confidence and could make them feel marginalized.

Instead, try to instill a spirit of respect and tolerance in the classroom. As well as keeping classroom dynamics calm and peaceful, this will serve them well later in life.

If you need a little guidance with promoting tolerance in your school, take a look at this website dedicated to teaching respect and equality.

9. Set high expectations

Most students are keen to please their teachers and make the most of their time in high school. In this way, you owe it to your students to set realistic but ambitious academic expectations.

10. Lighten things up with humor

Using your natural wit and charm every so often is a great way to brighten the school day and could even improve your relationship with students if things feel a little tense.

11. Listen to parents

Parents are still very much involved in their children’s education during high school and could help you become a better teacher. If a parent flags up that their child is struggling, for example, set aside some time to come to meet with them and come up with solutions.

12. Don’t be afraid to turn a blind eye

Sometimes, turning a blind eye to minor infractions of the rules is totally forgivable. You are there to teach, after all, not to be a disciplinarian.

13. Stay calm

Flying off the handle is not a good look for any teacher and will simply complicate classroom dynamics.

If you’re finding it hard to keep your cool, try some calming exercises such as:
  • Taking some deep breaths
  • Counting to ten in your head
  • Closing your eyes for a few seconds
  • Repeating a soothing mantra in your head

14. Remember to give praise

Students love hearing that they are doing well. Motivate them with kind words and rewards when they impress you.

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