The Foundation For High School Classroom Management Success

If you teach High School your classroom management skills will be tested; here are the 4 you need to master.
By 
Jordan Pruitt
 | 
October 18, 2022

I won’t rehash that all here, because you know the general story. Covid shutdowns, distance learning, masks, vaccines, hybrid learning plans, and then finally for us we re-opened our doors for students almost exactly a year later. 

The part of that story that is less well known has to do with high school extracurriculars. No sports or events, to limited capacity, to pages and pages of rules to allow our kids to have an outlet. Then constant stops and starts as the virus waxed and waned in our community.

That day in early March was briefly after we re-opened and I was on supervision duty for the campus that night. Supervising after-school events is part of the deal for high school folks, especially administrators but many teachers as well. This evening I walked around and saw the baseball team prepping the diamond, our girl's softball team was playing a cross-town rival, our tennis team was practicing for a big meet, and we were hosting a city track meet.

It was busy. 

It was the most activity I had been around at once in over a year. The campus felt alive

It’s a fun memory of what any other time is business as usual for our high school folks, but it meant a lot at the moment. 

Like all grade levels, high school is about teaching and learning. But I start this piece with my supervision story because while high school can be tough sometimes, it can have a tremendous impact on students, families, and communities. 

Your work matters. 

In the medium to small towns, the high school is the community center. It's the center of culture as in many places it's the only place in town you can see a play, or a concert or a ball game. Even in larger communities folks still identify by which high school they attended. Students are going through changes in their lives at a time that sets the foundation for the people they eventually become. 

That being said, all that change can sometimes make for classrooms that are difficult to manage. Our teachers in high schools have to compete with more outside interests and ease of access to content than any generation of teachers before.

On top of all those variables, it would also seem that disruptive behavior has amplified after the pandemic shutdowns as our kids adjust back to school life and in-person learning. 

High school can be a wonderful place to work and teach, but your classroom management models will be tested and your expertise will determine your success and ultimately your students’ success as well.

What is Classroom Management?

Classroom Management is a very broad term for the wide range of skills and techniques classroom instructors use to keep students organized, on task, on pace, and safe.

Note this doesn’t mean you only strive for compliance. The goal here is to create the best learning environment you can for your students. The goal is engagement in the lesson and thus engagement in the learning.

Classroom management is what separates a successful lesson from chaos. In my physics class, the deepest learning often happened right on the brink of that chaos. It was a fine line that could go either way based on my facilitation. 

The best teachers have the best facilitation skills. They can prime the room, and the occupants for exactly what they want to happen and they have the skills to adjust when they sense that things are steering towards the edge. 

This is people management more than content delivery. 

Why is High School Different?

When students start school in kindergarten, their desire for learning is so so so high. A little less in 1st grade, but still high. Then it gradually decreases as the years go by. 

As an aside for education, we need to take a long look at why our students like school less and less as they age. But that is a topic for another piece.

You as one high school teacher may not solve that problem. But you need to understand it to know how to proceed with your plan. Because that internal motivation for engagement in the learning process has decreased, your engagement strategies need to be impactful. 

High school students are obviously older, they are on the verge of adulthood but not quite there. That doesn’t mean they don’t view themselves as grown and for good reason sometimes.

In some cases, they likely have many of the same responsibilities as adults. Many of them work and contribute towards their families' success when they leave your school. 

The age level also means your students have been exposed to a lot more of life than their younger peers and those experiences shape their personas and outlooks in ways that sometimes aren’t conducive to academic success. 

With all of that said, high school can be an extremely rewarding place to teach but you’ll need some strong foundational pillars to ground your classroom management plan. 

4 High School Classroom Management Concepts

1. Engagement

The learning process looks a lot like this: We enter with preconceptions about a topic. We then develop interest (or don’t). 

From that interest, we engage with the topic. That engagement leads to an experience that can add to or correct your previous ideas on the subject. 

This forms a knowledge base that can then be used to apply the concept. You need to focus on your hook. How will you engage your students in the learning process? 

They may passively comply, but we need engagement for learning to take place. I suggest experimenting with as many forms of media as you deem appropriate and comfortable.

2. Organization

This is no different than most age groups. You need a plan for all the various things that your kids will need to access or use in your room. 

This is largely subject or atmosphere dependent. Put yourself in your kid's shoes, what would you need? , so they don’t fill in the blanks in a way that isn’t conducive to success.

3. Restorative Circles

Create a sense of community and belonging by incorporating Restorative Circles into your classroom. This is great for content engagement as you create discussion rules but even better as a way to dissolve conflicts in your room.

4. De-Escalation

Your approach matters a great deal. Yelling and intimidation tactics are not recommended. 

Even if they have short-term success, you are losing the relationship long-term. When dealing with discipline issues, stay calm and stay in control of the situation. Be the voice of reason in every situation. 

A great way to analyze situations for me was to think about this after the fact: did I make that situation better or worse? 

If it was worse, I need to look at how I responded. Could I have intervened sooner? Did my tone or word choice impact the situation? 

Time to Build Your High School Classroom Management Plan

There are many aspects to a good behavior management plan but those 4 are a great place for a high school educator to begin. Having engaging lessons will impact your classroom management plan more than anything else. Tier 1 instruction is one of the best classroom management models

Then have a plan for every day, every class stuff you know that will come up. Hall passes, supply locations, seating charts, etc. 

Put in the work to create a sense of belonging and community for your classes. This will help you work through the small stuff with your kids. 

Then finally have a plan for when nothing works and success looks like managing and de-escalating a bad situation or start thinking about incentives for high school students.

One of my favorite days as an educator was on a weekday in late March 2021. I was the Dean of Students at a large public high school. The date is essential to set the tone of why exactly this was such a great day. You likely had a similar experience in education as I did from March 2020 until that day in March 2021.

I won’t rehash that all here, because you know the general story. Covid shutdowns, distance learning, masks, vaccines, hybrid learning plans, and then finally for us we re-opened our doors for students almost exactly a year later. 

The part of that story that is less well known has to do with high school extracurriculars. No sports or events, to limited capacity, to pages and pages of rules to allow our kids to have an outlet. Then constant stops and starts as the virus waxed and waned in our community.

That day in early March was briefly after we re-opened and I was on supervision duty for the campus that night. Supervising after-school events is part of the deal for high school folks, especially administrators but many teachers as well. This evening I walked around and saw the baseball team prepping the diamond, our girl's softball team was playing a cross-town rival, our tennis team was practicing for a big meet, and we were hosting a city track meet.

It was busy. 

It was the most activity I had been around at once in over a year. The campus felt alive

It’s a fun memory of what any other time is business as usual for our high school folks, but it meant a lot at the moment. 

Like all grade levels, high school is about teaching and learning. But I start this piece with my supervision story because while high school can be tough sometimes, it can have a tremendous impact on students, families, and communities. 

Your work matters. 

In the medium to small towns, the high school is the community center. It's the center of culture as in many places it's the only place in town you can see a play, or a concert or a ball game. Even in larger communities folks still identify by which high school they attended. Students are going through changes in their lives at a time that sets the foundation for the people they eventually become. 

That being said, all that change can sometimes make for classrooms that are difficult to manage. Our teachers in high schools have to compete with more outside interests and ease of access to content than any generation of teachers before.

On top of all those variables, it would also seem that disruptive behavior has amplified after the pandemic shutdowns as our kids adjust back to school life and in-person learning. 

High school can be a wonderful place to work and teach, but your classroom management models will be tested and your expertise will determine your success and ultimately your students’ success as well.

What is Classroom Management?

Classroom Management is a very broad term for the wide range of skills and techniques classroom instructors use to keep students organized, on task, on pace, and safe.

Note this doesn’t mean you only strive for compliance. The goal here is to create the best learning environment you can for your students. The goal is engagement in the lesson and thus engagement in the learning.

Classroom management is what separates a successful lesson from chaos. In my physics class, the deepest learning often happened right on the brink of that chaos. It was a fine line that could go either way based on my facilitation. 

The best teachers have the best facilitation skills. They can prime the room, and the occupants for exactly what they want to happen and they have the skills to adjust when they sense that things are steering towards the edge. 

This is people management more than content delivery. 

Why is High School Different?

When students start school in kindergarten, their desire for learning is so so so high. A little less in 1st grade, but still high. Then it gradually decreases as the years go by. 

As an aside for education, we need to take a long look at why our students like school less and less as they age. But that is a topic for another piece.

You as one high school teacher may not solve that problem. But you need to understand it to know how to proceed with your plan. Because that internal motivation for engagement in the learning process has decreased, your engagement strategies need to be impactful. 

High school students are obviously older, they are on the verge of adulthood but not quite there. That doesn’t mean they don’t view themselves as grown and for good reason sometimes.

In some cases, they likely have many of the same responsibilities as adults. Many of them work and contribute towards their families' success when they leave your school. 

The age level also means your students have been exposed to a lot more of life than their younger peers and those experiences shape their personas and outlooks in ways that sometimes aren’t conducive to academic success. 

With all of that said, high school can be an extremely rewarding place to teach but you’ll need some strong foundational pillars to ground your classroom management plan. 

4 High School Classroom Management Concepts

1. Engagement

The learning process looks a lot like this: We enter with preconceptions about a topic. We then develop interest (or don’t). 

From that interest, we engage with the topic. That engagement leads to an experience that can add to or correct your previous ideas on the subject. 

This forms a knowledge base that can then be used to apply the concept. You need to focus on your hook. How will you engage your students in the learning process? 

They may passively comply, but we need engagement for learning to take place. I suggest experimenting with as many forms of media as you deem appropriate and comfortable.

2. Organization

This is no different than most age groups. You need a plan for all the various things that your kids will need to access or use in your room. 

This is largely subject or atmosphere dependent. Put yourself in your kid's shoes, what would you need? , so they don’t fill in the blanks in a way that isn’t conducive to success.

3. Restorative Circles

Create a sense of community and belonging by incorporating Restorative Circles into your classroom. This is great for content engagement as you create discussion rules but even better as a way to dissolve conflicts in your room.

4. De-Escalation

Your approach matters a great deal. Yelling and intimidation tactics are not recommended. 

Even if they have short-term success, you are losing the relationship long-term. When dealing with discipline issues, stay calm and stay in control of the situation. Be the voice of reason in every situation. 

A great way to analyze situations for me was to think about this after the fact: did I make that situation better or worse? 

If it was worse, I need to look at how I responded. Could I have intervened sooner? Did my tone or word choice impact the situation? 

Time to Build Your High School Classroom Management Plan

There are many aspects to a good behavior management plan but those 4 are a great place for a high school educator to begin. Having engaging lessons will impact your classroom management plan more than anything else. Tier 1 instruction is one of the best classroom management models

Then have a plan for every day, every class stuff you know that will come up. Hall passes, supply locations, seating charts, etc. 

Put in the work to create a sense of belonging and community for your classes. This will help you work through the small stuff with your kids. 

Then finally have a plan for when nothing works and success looks like managing and de-escalating a bad situation or start thinking about incentives for high school students.

I won’t rehash that all here, because you know the general story. Covid shutdowns, distance learning, masks, vaccines, hybrid learning plans, and then finally for us we re-opened our doors for students almost exactly a year later. 

The part of that story that is less well known has to do with high school extracurriculars. No sports or events, to limited capacity, to pages and pages of rules to allow our kids to have an outlet. Then constant stops and starts as the virus waxed and waned in our community.

That day in early March was briefly after we re-opened and I was on supervision duty for the campus that night. Supervising after-school events is part of the deal for high school folks, especially administrators but many teachers as well. This evening I walked around and saw the baseball team prepping the diamond, our girl's softball team was playing a cross-town rival, our tennis team was practicing for a big meet, and we were hosting a city track meet.

It was busy. 

It was the most activity I had been around at once in over a year. The campus felt alive

It’s a fun memory of what any other time is business as usual for our high school folks, but it meant a lot at the moment. 

Like all grade levels, high school is about teaching and learning. But I start this piece with my supervision story because while high school can be tough sometimes, it can have a tremendous impact on students, families, and communities. 

Your work matters. 

In the medium to small towns, the high school is the community center. It's the center of culture as in many places it's the only place in town you can see a play, or a concert or a ball game. Even in larger communities folks still identify by which high school they attended. Students are going through changes in their lives at a time that sets the foundation for the people they eventually become. 

That being said, all that change can sometimes make for classrooms that are difficult to manage. Our teachers in high schools have to compete with more outside interests and ease of access to content than any generation of teachers before.

On top of all those variables, it would also seem that disruptive behavior has amplified after the pandemic shutdowns as our kids adjust back to school life and in-person learning. 

High school can be a wonderful place to work and teach, but your classroom management models will be tested and your expertise will determine your success and ultimately your students’ success as well.

What is Classroom Management?

Classroom Management is a very broad term for the wide range of skills and techniques classroom instructors use to keep students organized, on task, on pace, and safe.

Note this doesn’t mean you only strive for compliance. The goal here is to create the best learning environment you can for your students. The goal is engagement in the lesson and thus engagement in the learning.

Classroom management is what separates a successful lesson from chaos. In my physics class, the deepest learning often happened right on the brink of that chaos. It was a fine line that could go either way based on my facilitation. 

The best teachers have the best facilitation skills. They can prime the room, and the occupants for exactly what they want to happen and they have the skills to adjust when they sense that things are steering towards the edge. 

This is people management more than content delivery. 

Why is High School Different?

When students start school in kindergarten, their desire for learning is so so so high. A little less in 1st grade, but still high. Then it gradually decreases as the years go by. 

As an aside for education, we need to take a long look at why our students like school less and less as they age. But that is a topic for another piece.

You as one high school teacher may not solve that problem. But you need to understand it to know how to proceed with your plan. Because that internal motivation for engagement in the learning process has decreased, your engagement strategies need to be impactful. 

High school students are obviously older, they are on the verge of adulthood but not quite there. That doesn’t mean they don’t view themselves as grown and for good reason sometimes.

In some cases, they likely have many of the same responsibilities as adults. Many of them work and contribute towards their families' success when they leave your school. 

The age level also means your students have been exposed to a lot more of life than their younger peers and those experiences shape their personas and outlooks in ways that sometimes aren’t conducive to academic success. 

With all of that said, high school can be an extremely rewarding place to teach but you’ll need some strong foundational pillars to ground your classroom management plan. 

4 High School Classroom Management Concepts

1. Engagement

The learning process looks a lot like this: We enter with preconceptions about a topic. We then develop interest (or don’t). 

From that interest, we engage with the topic. That engagement leads to an experience that can add to or correct your previous ideas on the subject. 

This forms a knowledge base that can then be used to apply the concept. You need to focus on your hook. How will you engage your students in the learning process? 

They may passively comply, but we need engagement for learning to take place. I suggest experimenting with as many forms of media as you deem appropriate and comfortable.

2. Organization

This is no different than most age groups. You need a plan for all the various things that your kids will need to access or use in your room. 

This is largely subject or atmosphere dependent. Put yourself in your kid's shoes, what would you need? , so they don’t fill in the blanks in a way that isn’t conducive to success.

3. Restorative Circles

Create a sense of community and belonging by incorporating Restorative Circles into your classroom. This is great for content engagement as you create discussion rules but even better as a way to dissolve conflicts in your room.

4. De-Escalation

Your approach matters a great deal. Yelling and intimidation tactics are not recommended. 

Even if they have short-term success, you are losing the relationship long-term. When dealing with discipline issues, stay calm and stay in control of the situation. Be the voice of reason in every situation. 

A great way to analyze situations for me was to think about this after the fact: did I make that situation better or worse? 

If it was worse, I need to look at how I responded. Could I have intervened sooner? Did my tone or word choice impact the situation? 

Time to Build Your High School Classroom Management Plan

There are many aspects to a good behavior management plan but those 4 are a great place for a high school educator to begin. Having engaging lessons will impact your classroom management plan more than anything else. Tier 1 instruction is one of the best classroom management models

Then have a plan for every day, every class stuff you know that will come up. Hall passes, supply locations, seating charts, etc. 

Put in the work to create a sense of belonging and community for your classes. This will help you work through the small stuff with your kids. 

Then finally have a plan for when nothing works and success looks like managing and de-escalating a bad situation or start thinking about incentives for high school students.

quote icon

I won’t rehash that all here, because you know the general story. Covid shutdowns, distance learning, masks, vaccines, hybrid learning plans, and then finally for us we re-opened our doors for students almost exactly a year later. 

The part of that story that is less well known has to do with high school extracurriculars. No sports or events, to limited capacity, to pages and pages of rules to allow our kids to have an outlet. Then constant stops and starts as the virus waxed and waned in our community.

That day in early March was briefly after we re-opened and I was on supervision duty for the campus that night. Supervising after-school events is part of the deal for high school folks, especially administrators but many teachers as well. This evening I walked around and saw the baseball team prepping the diamond, our girl's softball team was playing a cross-town rival, our tennis team was practicing for a big meet, and we were hosting a city track meet.

It was busy. 

It was the most activity I had been around at once in over a year. The campus felt alive

It’s a fun memory of what any other time is business as usual for our high school folks, but it meant a lot at the moment. 

Like all grade levels, high school is about teaching and learning. But I start this piece with my supervision story because while high school can be tough sometimes, it can have a tremendous impact on students, families, and communities. 

Your work matters. 

In the medium to small towns, the high school is the community center. It's the center of culture as in many places it's the only place in town you can see a play, or a concert or a ball game. Even in larger communities folks still identify by which high school they attended. Students are going through changes in their lives at a time that sets the foundation for the people they eventually become. 

That being said, all that change can sometimes make for classrooms that are difficult to manage. Our teachers in high schools have to compete with more outside interests and ease of access to content than any generation of teachers before.

On top of all those variables, it would also seem that disruptive behavior has amplified after the pandemic shutdowns as our kids adjust back to school life and in-person learning. 

High school can be a wonderful place to work and teach, but your classroom management models will be tested and your expertise will determine your success and ultimately your students’ success as well.

What is Classroom Management?

Classroom Management is a very broad term for the wide range of skills and techniques classroom instructors use to keep students organized, on task, on pace, and safe.

Note this doesn’t mean you only strive for compliance. The goal here is to create the best learning environment you can for your students. The goal is engagement in the lesson and thus engagement in the learning.

Classroom management is what separates a successful lesson from chaos. In my physics class, the deepest learning often happened right on the brink of that chaos. It was a fine line that could go either way based on my facilitation. 

The best teachers have the best facilitation skills. They can prime the room, and the occupants for exactly what they want to happen and they have the skills to adjust when they sense that things are steering towards the edge. 

This is people management more than content delivery. 

Why is High School Different?

When students start school in kindergarten, their desire for learning is so so so high. A little less in 1st grade, but still high. Then it gradually decreases as the years go by. 

As an aside for education, we need to take a long look at why our students like school less and less as they age. But that is a topic for another piece.

You as one high school teacher may not solve that problem. But you need to understand it to know how to proceed with your plan. Because that internal motivation for engagement in the learning process has decreased, your engagement strategies need to be impactful. 

High school students are obviously older, they are on the verge of adulthood but not quite there. That doesn’t mean they don’t view themselves as grown and for good reason sometimes.

In some cases, they likely have many of the same responsibilities as adults. Many of them work and contribute towards their families' success when they leave your school. 

The age level also means your students have been exposed to a lot more of life than their younger peers and those experiences shape their personas and outlooks in ways that sometimes aren’t conducive to academic success. 

With all of that said, high school can be an extremely rewarding place to teach but you’ll need some strong foundational pillars to ground your classroom management plan. 

4 High School Classroom Management Concepts

1. Engagement

The learning process looks a lot like this: We enter with preconceptions about a topic. We then develop interest (or don’t). 

From that interest, we engage with the topic. That engagement leads to an experience that can add to or correct your previous ideas on the subject. 

This forms a knowledge base that can then be used to apply the concept. You need to focus on your hook. How will you engage your students in the learning process? 

They may passively comply, but we need engagement for learning to take place. I suggest experimenting with as many forms of media as you deem appropriate and comfortable.

2. Organization

This is no different than most age groups. You need a plan for all the various things that your kids will need to access or use in your room. 

This is largely subject or atmosphere dependent. Put yourself in your kid's shoes, what would you need? , so they don’t fill in the blanks in a way that isn’t conducive to success.

3. Restorative Circles

Create a sense of community and belonging by incorporating Restorative Circles into your classroom. This is great for content engagement as you create discussion rules but even better as a way to dissolve conflicts in your room.

4. De-Escalation

Your approach matters a great deal. Yelling and intimidation tactics are not recommended. 

Even if they have short-term success, you are losing the relationship long-term. When dealing with discipline issues, stay calm and stay in control of the situation. Be the voice of reason in every situation. 

A great way to analyze situations for me was to think about this after the fact: did I make that situation better or worse? 

If it was worse, I need to look at how I responded. Could I have intervened sooner? Did my tone or word choice impact the situation? 

Time to Build Your High School Classroom Management Plan

There are many aspects to a good behavior management plan but those 4 are a great place for a high school educator to begin. Having engaging lessons will impact your classroom management plan more than anything else. Tier 1 instruction is one of the best classroom management models

Then have a plan for every day, every class stuff you know that will come up. Hall passes, supply locations, seating charts, etc. 

Put in the work to create a sense of belonging and community for your classes. This will help you work through the small stuff with your kids. 

Then finally have a plan for when nothing works and success looks like managing and de-escalating a bad situation or start thinking about incentives for high school students.

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About the Event

I won’t rehash that all here, because you know the general story. Covid shutdowns, distance learning, masks, vaccines, hybrid learning plans, and then finally for us we re-opened our doors for students almost exactly a year later. 

The part of that story that is less well known has to do with high school extracurriculars. No sports or events, to limited capacity, to pages and pages of rules to allow our kids to have an outlet. Then constant stops and starts as the virus waxed and waned in our community.

That day in early March was briefly after we re-opened and I was on supervision duty for the campus that night. Supervising after-school events is part of the deal for high school folks, especially administrators but many teachers as well. This evening I walked around and saw the baseball team prepping the diamond, our girl's softball team was playing a cross-town rival, our tennis team was practicing for a big meet, and we were hosting a city track meet.

It was busy. 

It was the most activity I had been around at once in over a year. The campus felt alive

It’s a fun memory of what any other time is business as usual for our high school folks, but it meant a lot at the moment. 

Like all grade levels, high school is about teaching and learning. But I start this piece with my supervision story because while high school can be tough sometimes, it can have a tremendous impact on students, families, and communities. 

Your work matters. 

In the medium to small towns, the high school is the community center. It's the center of culture as in many places it's the only place in town you can see a play, or a concert or a ball game. Even in larger communities folks still identify by which high school they attended. Students are going through changes in their lives at a time that sets the foundation for the people they eventually become. 

That being said, all that change can sometimes make for classrooms that are difficult to manage. Our teachers in high schools have to compete with more outside interests and ease of access to content than any generation of teachers before.

On top of all those variables, it would also seem that disruptive behavior has amplified after the pandemic shutdowns as our kids adjust back to school life and in-person learning. 

High school can be a wonderful place to work and teach, but your classroom management models will be tested and your expertise will determine your success and ultimately your students’ success as well.

What is Classroom Management?

Classroom Management is a very broad term for the wide range of skills and techniques classroom instructors use to keep students organized, on task, on pace, and safe.

Note this doesn’t mean you only strive for compliance. The goal here is to create the best learning environment you can for your students. The goal is engagement in the lesson and thus engagement in the learning.

Classroom management is what separates a successful lesson from chaos. In my physics class, the deepest learning often happened right on the brink of that chaos. It was a fine line that could go either way based on my facilitation. 

The best teachers have the best facilitation skills. They can prime the room, and the occupants for exactly what they want to happen and they have the skills to adjust when they sense that things are steering towards the edge. 

This is people management more than content delivery. 

Why is High School Different?

When students start school in kindergarten, their desire for learning is so so so high. A little less in 1st grade, but still high. Then it gradually decreases as the years go by. 

As an aside for education, we need to take a long look at why our students like school less and less as they age. But that is a topic for another piece.

You as one high school teacher may not solve that problem. But you need to understand it to know how to proceed with your plan. Because that internal motivation for engagement in the learning process has decreased, your engagement strategies need to be impactful. 

High school students are obviously older, they are on the verge of adulthood but not quite there. That doesn’t mean they don’t view themselves as grown and for good reason sometimes.

In some cases, they likely have many of the same responsibilities as adults. Many of them work and contribute towards their families' success when they leave your school. 

The age level also means your students have been exposed to a lot more of life than their younger peers and those experiences shape their personas and outlooks in ways that sometimes aren’t conducive to academic success. 

With all of that said, high school can be an extremely rewarding place to teach but you’ll need some strong foundational pillars to ground your classroom management plan. 

4 High School Classroom Management Concepts

1. Engagement

The learning process looks a lot like this: We enter with preconceptions about a topic. We then develop interest (or don’t). 

From that interest, we engage with the topic. That engagement leads to an experience that can add to or correct your previous ideas on the subject. 

This forms a knowledge base that can then be used to apply the concept. You need to focus on your hook. How will you engage your students in the learning process? 

They may passively comply, but we need engagement for learning to take place. I suggest experimenting with as many forms of media as you deem appropriate and comfortable.

2. Organization

This is no different than most age groups. You need a plan for all the various things that your kids will need to access or use in your room. 

This is largely subject or atmosphere dependent. Put yourself in your kid's shoes, what would you need? , so they don’t fill in the blanks in a way that isn’t conducive to success.

3. Restorative Circles

Create a sense of community and belonging by incorporating Restorative Circles into your classroom. This is great for content engagement as you create discussion rules but even better as a way to dissolve conflicts in your room.

4. De-Escalation

Your approach matters a great deal. Yelling and intimidation tactics are not recommended. 

Even if they have short-term success, you are losing the relationship long-term. When dealing with discipline issues, stay calm and stay in control of the situation. Be the voice of reason in every situation. 

A great way to analyze situations for me was to think about this after the fact: did I make that situation better or worse? 

If it was worse, I need to look at how I responded. Could I have intervened sooner? Did my tone or word choice impact the situation? 

Time to Build Your High School Classroom Management Plan

There are many aspects to a good behavior management plan but those 4 are a great place for a high school educator to begin. Having engaging lessons will impact your classroom management plan more than anything else. Tier 1 instruction is one of the best classroom management models

Then have a plan for every day, every class stuff you know that will come up. Hall passes, supply locations, seating charts, etc. 

Put in the work to create a sense of belonging and community for your classes. This will help you work through the small stuff with your kids. 

Then finally have a plan for when nothing works and success looks like managing and de-escalating a bad situation or start thinking about incentives for high school students.

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About the Event

I won’t rehash that all here, because you know the general story. Covid shutdowns, distance learning, masks, vaccines, hybrid learning plans, and then finally for us we re-opened our doors for students almost exactly a year later. 

The part of that story that is less well known has to do with high school extracurriculars. No sports or events, to limited capacity, to pages and pages of rules to allow our kids to have an outlet. Then constant stops and starts as the virus waxed and waned in our community.

That day in early March was briefly after we re-opened and I was on supervision duty for the campus that night. Supervising after-school events is part of the deal for high school folks, especially administrators but many teachers as well. This evening I walked around and saw the baseball team prepping the diamond, our girl's softball team was playing a cross-town rival, our tennis team was practicing for a big meet, and we were hosting a city track meet.

It was busy. 

It was the most activity I had been around at once in over a year. The campus felt alive

It’s a fun memory of what any other time is business as usual for our high school folks, but it meant a lot at the moment. 

Like all grade levels, high school is about teaching and learning. But I start this piece with my supervision story because while high school can be tough sometimes, it can have a tremendous impact on students, families, and communities. 

Your work matters. 

In the medium to small towns, the high school is the community center. It's the center of culture as in many places it's the only place in town you can see a play, or a concert or a ball game. Even in larger communities folks still identify by which high school they attended. Students are going through changes in their lives at a time that sets the foundation for the people they eventually become. 

That being said, all that change can sometimes make for classrooms that are difficult to manage. Our teachers in high schools have to compete with more outside interests and ease of access to content than any generation of teachers before.

On top of all those variables, it would also seem that disruptive behavior has amplified after the pandemic shutdowns as our kids adjust back to school life and in-person learning. 

High school can be a wonderful place to work and teach, but your classroom management models will be tested and your expertise will determine your success and ultimately your students’ success as well.

What is Classroom Management?

Classroom Management is a very broad term for the wide range of skills and techniques classroom instructors use to keep students organized, on task, on pace, and safe.

Note this doesn’t mean you only strive for compliance. The goal here is to create the best learning environment you can for your students. The goal is engagement in the lesson and thus engagement in the learning.

Classroom management is what separates a successful lesson from chaos. In my physics class, the deepest learning often happened right on the brink of that chaos. It was a fine line that could go either way based on my facilitation. 

The best teachers have the best facilitation skills. They can prime the room, and the occupants for exactly what they want to happen and they have the skills to adjust when they sense that things are steering towards the edge. 

This is people management more than content delivery. 

Why is High School Different?

When students start school in kindergarten, their desire for learning is so so so high. A little less in 1st grade, but still high. Then it gradually decreases as the years go by. 

As an aside for education, we need to take a long look at why our students like school less and less as they age. But that is a topic for another piece.

You as one high school teacher may not solve that problem. But you need to understand it to know how to proceed with your plan. Because that internal motivation for engagement in the learning process has decreased, your engagement strategies need to be impactful. 

High school students are obviously older, they are on the verge of adulthood but not quite there. That doesn’t mean they don’t view themselves as grown and for good reason sometimes.

In some cases, they likely have many of the same responsibilities as adults. Many of them work and contribute towards their families' success when they leave your school. 

The age level also means your students have been exposed to a lot more of life than their younger peers and those experiences shape their personas and outlooks in ways that sometimes aren’t conducive to academic success. 

With all of that said, high school can be an extremely rewarding place to teach but you’ll need some strong foundational pillars to ground your classroom management plan. 

4 High School Classroom Management Concepts

1. Engagement

The learning process looks a lot like this: We enter with preconceptions about a topic. We then develop interest (or don’t). 

From that interest, we engage with the topic. That engagement leads to an experience that can add to or correct your previous ideas on the subject. 

This forms a knowledge base that can then be used to apply the concept. You need to focus on your hook. How will you engage your students in the learning process? 

They may passively comply, but we need engagement for learning to take place. I suggest experimenting with as many forms of media as you deem appropriate and comfortable.

2. Organization

This is no different than most age groups. You need a plan for all the various things that your kids will need to access or use in your room. 

This is largely subject or atmosphere dependent. Put yourself in your kid's shoes, what would you need? , so they don’t fill in the blanks in a way that isn’t conducive to success.

3. Restorative Circles

Create a sense of community and belonging by incorporating Restorative Circles into your classroom. This is great for content engagement as you create discussion rules but even better as a way to dissolve conflicts in your room.

4. De-Escalation

Your approach matters a great deal. Yelling and intimidation tactics are not recommended. 

Even if they have short-term success, you are losing the relationship long-term. When dealing with discipline issues, stay calm and stay in control of the situation. Be the voice of reason in every situation. 

A great way to analyze situations for me was to think about this after the fact: did I make that situation better or worse? 

If it was worse, I need to look at how I responded. Could I have intervened sooner? Did my tone or word choice impact the situation? 

Time to Build Your High School Classroom Management Plan

There are many aspects to a good behavior management plan but those 4 are a great place for a high school educator to begin. Having engaging lessons will impact your classroom management plan more than anything else. Tier 1 instruction is one of the best classroom management models

Then have a plan for every day, every class stuff you know that will come up. Hall passes, supply locations, seating charts, etc. 

Put in the work to create a sense of belonging and community for your classes. This will help you work through the small stuff with your kids. 

Then finally have a plan for when nothing works and success looks like managing and de-escalating a bad situation or start thinking about incentives for high school students.

About the Presenter

Jordan resides in Lexington, Kentucky. He has experience in Public Education as an Administrator, Science Teacher, and as a Coach. He has extensive experience with School Discipline, PBIS, SEL, Restorative Practices, MTSS, and Trauma-Informed Care.

One of my favorite days as an educator was on a weekday in late March 2021. I was the Dean of Students at a large public high school. The date is essential to set the tone of why exactly this was such a great day. You likely had a similar experience in education as I did from March 2020 until that day in March 2021.

I won’t rehash that all here, because you know the general story. Covid shutdowns, distance learning, masks, vaccines, hybrid learning plans, and then finally for us we re-opened our doors for students almost exactly a year later. 

The part of that story that is less well known has to do with high school extracurriculars. No sports or events, to limited capacity, to pages and pages of rules to allow our kids to have an outlet. Then constant stops and starts as the virus waxed and waned in our community.

That day in early March was briefly after we re-opened and I was on supervision duty for the campus that night. Supervising after-school events is part of the deal for high school folks, especially administrators but many teachers as well. This evening I walked around and saw the baseball team prepping the diamond, our girl's softball team was playing a cross-town rival, our tennis team was practicing for a big meet, and we were hosting a city track meet.

It was busy. 

It was the most activity I had been around at once in over a year. The campus felt alive

It’s a fun memory of what any other time is business as usual for our high school folks, but it meant a lot at the moment. 

Like all grade levels, high school is about teaching and learning. But I start this piece with my supervision story because while high school can be tough sometimes, it can have a tremendous impact on students, families, and communities. 

Your work matters. 

In the medium to small towns, the high school is the community center. It's the center of culture as in many places it's the only place in town you can see a play, or a concert or a ball game. Even in larger communities folks still identify by which high school they attended. Students are going through changes in their lives at a time that sets the foundation for the people they eventually become. 

That being said, all that change can sometimes make for classrooms that are difficult to manage. Our teachers in high schools have to compete with more outside interests and ease of access to content than any generation of teachers before.

On top of all those variables, it would also seem that disruptive behavior has amplified after the pandemic shutdowns as our kids adjust back to school life and in-person learning. 

High school can be a wonderful place to work and teach, but your classroom management models will be tested and your expertise will determine your success and ultimately your students’ success as well.

What is Classroom Management?

Classroom Management is a very broad term for the wide range of skills and techniques classroom instructors use to keep students organized, on task, on pace, and safe.

Note this doesn’t mean you only strive for compliance. The goal here is to create the best learning environment you can for your students. The goal is engagement in the lesson and thus engagement in the learning.

Classroom management is what separates a successful lesson from chaos. In my physics class, the deepest learning often happened right on the brink of that chaos. It was a fine line that could go either way based on my facilitation. 

The best teachers have the best facilitation skills. They can prime the room, and the occupants for exactly what they want to happen and they have the skills to adjust when they sense that things are steering towards the edge. 

This is people management more than content delivery. 

Why is High School Different?

When students start school in kindergarten, their desire for learning is so so so high. A little less in 1st grade, but still high. Then it gradually decreases as the years go by. 

As an aside for education, we need to take a long look at why our students like school less and less as they age. But that is a topic for another piece.

You as one high school teacher may not solve that problem. But you need to understand it to know how to proceed with your plan. Because that internal motivation for engagement in the learning process has decreased, your engagement strategies need to be impactful. 

High school students are obviously older, they are on the verge of adulthood but not quite there. That doesn’t mean they don’t view themselves as grown and for good reason sometimes.

In some cases, they likely have many of the same responsibilities as adults. Many of them work and contribute towards their families' success when they leave your school. 

The age level also means your students have been exposed to a lot more of life than their younger peers and those experiences shape their personas and outlooks in ways that sometimes aren’t conducive to academic success. 

With all of that said, high school can be an extremely rewarding place to teach but you’ll need some strong foundational pillars to ground your classroom management plan. 

4 High School Classroom Management Concepts

1. Engagement

The learning process looks a lot like this: We enter with preconceptions about a topic. We then develop interest (or don’t). 

From that interest, we engage with the topic. That engagement leads to an experience that can add to or correct your previous ideas on the subject. 

This forms a knowledge base that can then be used to apply the concept. You need to focus on your hook. How will you engage your students in the learning process? 

They may passively comply, but we need engagement for learning to take place. I suggest experimenting with as many forms of media as you deem appropriate and comfortable.

2. Organization

This is no different than most age groups. You need a plan for all the various things that your kids will need to access or use in your room. 

This is largely subject or atmosphere dependent. Put yourself in your kid's shoes, what would you need? , so they don’t fill in the blanks in a way that isn’t conducive to success.

3. Restorative Circles

Create a sense of community and belonging by incorporating Restorative Circles into your classroom. This is great for content engagement as you create discussion rules but even better as a way to dissolve conflicts in your room.

4. De-Escalation

Your approach matters a great deal. Yelling and intimidation tactics are not recommended. 

Even if they have short-term success, you are losing the relationship long-term. When dealing with discipline issues, stay calm and stay in control of the situation. Be the voice of reason in every situation. 

A great way to analyze situations for me was to think about this after the fact: did I make that situation better or worse? 

If it was worse, I need to look at how I responded. Could I have intervened sooner? Did my tone or word choice impact the situation? 

Time to Build Your High School Classroom Management Plan

There are many aspects to a good behavior management plan but those 4 are a great place for a high school educator to begin. Having engaging lessons will impact your classroom management plan more than anything else. Tier 1 instruction is one of the best classroom management models

Then have a plan for every day, every class stuff you know that will come up. Hall passes, supply locations, seating charts, etc. 

Put in the work to create a sense of belonging and community for your classes. This will help you work through the small stuff with your kids. 

Then finally have a plan for when nothing works and success looks like managing and de-escalating a bad situation or start thinking about incentives for high school students.

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Learn more about the author, 
Jordan Pruitt
 

One of my favorite days as an educator was on a weekday in late March 2021. I was the Dean of Students at a large public high school. The date is essential to set the tone of why exactly this was such a great day. You likely had a similar experience in education as I did from March 2020 until that day in March 2021.

I won’t rehash that all here, because you know the general story. Covid shutdowns, distance learning, masks, vaccines, hybrid learning plans, and then finally for us we re-opened our doors for students almost exactly a year later. 

The part of that story that is less well known has to do with high school extracurriculars. No sports or events, to limited capacity, to pages and pages of rules to allow our kids to have an outlet. Then constant stops and starts as the virus waxed and waned in our community.

That day in early March was briefly after we re-opened and I was on supervision duty for the campus that night. Supervising after-school events is part of the deal for high school folks, especially administrators but many teachers as well. This evening I walked around and saw the baseball team prepping the diamond, our girl's softball team was playing a cross-town rival, our tennis team was practicing for a big meet, and we were hosting a city track meet.

It was busy. 

It was the most activity I had been around at once in over a year. The campus felt alive

It’s a fun memory of what any other time is business as usual for our high school folks, but it meant a lot at the moment. 

Like all grade levels, high school is about teaching and learning. But I start this piece with my supervision story because while high school can be tough sometimes, it can have a tremendous impact on students, families, and communities. 

Your work matters. 

In the medium to small towns, the high school is the community center. It's the center of culture as in many places it's the only place in town you can see a play, or a concert or a ball game. Even in larger communities folks still identify by which high school they attended. Students are going through changes in their lives at a time that sets the foundation for the people they eventually become. 

That being said, all that change can sometimes make for classrooms that are difficult to manage. Our teachers in high schools have to compete with more outside interests and ease of access to content than any generation of teachers before.

On top of all those variables, it would also seem that disruptive behavior has amplified after the pandemic shutdowns as our kids adjust back to school life and in-person learning. 

High school can be a wonderful place to work and teach, but your classroom management models will be tested and your expertise will determine your success and ultimately your students’ success as well.

What is Classroom Management?

Classroom Management is a very broad term for the wide range of skills and techniques classroom instructors use to keep students organized, on task, on pace, and safe.

Note this doesn’t mean you only strive for compliance. The goal here is to create the best learning environment you can for your students. The goal is engagement in the lesson and thus engagement in the learning.

Classroom management is what separates a successful lesson from chaos. In my physics class, the deepest learning often happened right on the brink of that chaos. It was a fine line that could go either way based on my facilitation. 

The best teachers have the best facilitation skills. They can prime the room, and the occupants for exactly what they want to happen and they have the skills to adjust when they sense that things are steering towards the edge. 

This is people management more than content delivery. 

Why is High School Different?

When students start school in kindergarten, their desire for learning is so so so high. A little less in 1st grade, but still high. Then it gradually decreases as the years go by. 

As an aside for education, we need to take a long look at why our students like school less and less as they age. But that is a topic for another piece.

You as one high school teacher may not solve that problem. But you need to understand it to know how to proceed with your plan. Because that internal motivation for engagement in the learning process has decreased, your engagement strategies need to be impactful. 

High school students are obviously older, they are on the verge of adulthood but not quite there. That doesn’t mean they don’t view themselves as grown and for good reason sometimes.

In some cases, they likely have many of the same responsibilities as adults. Many of them work and contribute towards their families' success when they leave your school. 

The age level also means your students have been exposed to a lot more of life than their younger peers and those experiences shape their personas and outlooks in ways that sometimes aren’t conducive to academic success. 

With all of that said, high school can be an extremely rewarding place to teach but you’ll need some strong foundational pillars to ground your classroom management plan. 

4 High School Classroom Management Concepts

1. Engagement

The learning process looks a lot like this: We enter with preconceptions about a topic. We then develop interest (or don’t). 

From that interest, we engage with the topic. That engagement leads to an experience that can add to or correct your previous ideas on the subject. 

This forms a knowledge base that can then be used to apply the concept. You need to focus on your hook. How will you engage your students in the learning process? 

They may passively comply, but we need engagement for learning to take place. I suggest experimenting with as many forms of media as you deem appropriate and comfortable.

2. Organization

This is no different than most age groups. You need a plan for all the various things that your kids will need to access or use in your room. 

This is largely subject or atmosphere dependent. Put yourself in your kid's shoes, what would you need? , so they don’t fill in the blanks in a way that isn’t conducive to success.

3. Restorative Circles

Create a sense of community and belonging by incorporating Restorative Circles into your classroom. This is great for content engagement as you create discussion rules but even better as a way to dissolve conflicts in your room.

4. De-Escalation

Your approach matters a great deal. Yelling and intimidation tactics are not recommended. 

Even if they have short-term success, you are losing the relationship long-term. When dealing with discipline issues, stay calm and stay in control of the situation. Be the voice of reason in every situation. 

A great way to analyze situations for me was to think about this after the fact: did I make that situation better or worse? 

If it was worse, I need to look at how I responded. Could I have intervened sooner? Did my tone or word choice impact the situation? 

Time to Build Your High School Classroom Management Plan

There are many aspects to a good behavior management plan but those 4 are a great place for a high school educator to begin. Having engaging lessons will impact your classroom management plan more than anything else. Tier 1 instruction is one of the best classroom management models

Then have a plan for every day, every class stuff you know that will come up. Hall passes, supply locations, seating charts, etc. 

Put in the work to create a sense of belonging and community for your classes. This will help you work through the small stuff with your kids. 

Then finally have a plan for when nothing works and success looks like managing and de-escalating a bad situation or start thinking about incentives for high school students.

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