comparing middle school to high school

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by a teacher, Jun 15, 2011.

  1. a teacher

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    What are some of the main differences between teaching middle school and teaching high school? I will be switching to high school next year and I'm wondering how much of my approach and my lessons I will need to modify and in what ways.
     
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  3. StudentTeach

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    Which grade(s) will you be teaching in high school?
     
  4. Cerek

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    I would think the biggest difference is the level of critical thinking, comprehension and responsibility in high school compared to middle school.

    I've not taught in HS, but I have subbed in several classes. Most of the time, you do not have to explain the lesson as completely or explicitly to high schoolers as you do middle schoolers because they have the cognitive ability to grasp things more quickly and to read the material on their own. They also have a higher level of responsibility for taking notes and learning the material with more individual effort, whereas in middle school, I find I still need to explain most material step-by-step.

    Of course, you also sometimes have more of the drama and attitude from HS students than from middle schoolers, but most of my experience has been very positive. I would give the HS kids their assignments, go over any explanations the teacher had left, then leave them to work on the assignment for the remainder of the class.

    As a regular teacher, you'll still have to find ways to explain the material clearly and still might have to go over some things step-by-step, especially if it's new material. I didn't have to deal with that because most of the assignments left for me were based on material they had already covered.

    Other than that, the same basic principles apply. Always promote a positive atmosphere in your room, establish and ENFORCE your class rules right away, and treat the kids with the same respect you want them to show to you.
     
  5. a teacher

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    I just wonder how many of the immature behaviors I experience everyday at a middle school, I will be able to say I am done with having to deal with. The most obvious that comes to mind is how middle school kids do the same foolish things day after day even when they know they will face the same consequences they faced the previous day. In other words, there's a lack of common sense and of control. Also, I wonder if I just take my class procedures straight over to the high school level with no modification, will certain things seem babyish to them? For example, lining them up outside before they enter class. That's important in middle school, but is it reasonable for high school?

    And I will probably be teaching all grades in high school.
     
  6. KatherineParr

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    My experience is limited.

    However, if I tried to line up my students before class I'd have a revolt on my hands inside of 20 seconds.
     
  7. Ms.SLS

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    Is it typical to ask middle school students to line up before class?
     
  8. Math

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    I remember lining up for most classes in Middle School. Now in High School, no, we do not line up we just go in.
     
  9. a teacher

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    Lining up students makes more sense than just letting them wander in. You get their attention and then you can make eye contact with each of them as they walk in as well as saying hello. This establishes a good climate before class even begins.

    I'm concerned that if they just walk in, they will be all over the place. How do you get their attention? What do they do when they enter the room? Is there a routine? Maybe high school kids get settled real quick and so don't need to get in line. That's what I'm asking about I guess.
     
  10. KateL

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    I'm also switching from middle school to high school this fall. I guess I'll do what the other teachers do as far as beginning class. In the middle school I taught at, we had the students line up outside the door before every class. I'm guessing that they don't do that in high school, though.
     
  11. INteacher

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    :yeahthat:

    and the fact that your students will be coming from all different areas, and my P would NOT want all my students standing outside my room in the hallway clogging up the halls making it difficult for other students to get to class.

    You do need to establish the ground rules for entering your classroom and what students will do upon entering your room. You will also need to inforce whatever tardy policy is in the student handbook. Our tardy policy specific states students must be in their seats when the bell rings in order to not be counted tardy.
     
  12. a teacher

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    What would I have to modify in terms of my approach? What can HS kids do that MS kids aren't capable of due to immaturity? What that I might try to continue at the HS level that I've been doing in MS would be considered too babyish for HS kids? Or is that not an issue?
     
  13. a teacher

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    So what are some of your concerns about making the switch? What are some of the things you look forward to and what are you anxious about?
     
  14. Ms.SLS

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    As far as the coming into class issue, I open the door and greet my high school kids there. If they're not in their seat when the bell rings, they're tardy.
     
  15. cmw

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    I teach middle school and my students come right in. I stand at the door & greet them. My room is in a different wing from the other classes so it takes 3-5 minutes for all my students to arrive. There is always an activity to start the class that they begin as soon as they walk in. It is listed on the board with the agenda for the day. (That way they are focused from the start of class. ) If the activity involves a paper they get it off a music stand on their way in. To get them into the routine I do reward those following directions with tickets or jolly ranchers. :D
     
  16. Math

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    Is that truly fair?
     
  17. KateL

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    Well, I'm going from a non-tested grade for science to a tested one, so I'm anxious about preparing the students for the state test. On the other hand, I'll have an external motivator to hang over the students' heads that I didn't have last year. High school science in CA also has a LOT more standards than middle school, and I barely had enough time to teach all of the standards in middle school. I'm looking forward to using all of the technology that the new school has available. I also think the new school is more aligned with my personal teaching philosophy - an emphasis on problem-based learning instead of requiring EDI (explicit direct instruction).
     
  18. Ms.SLS

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    When they're hanging outside my room talking, and they hear the bell music playing (30 seconds) and continue to stand outside and talk, I say yes.

    If they come check in with me and then run to use the restroom or something else, I give them a little leeway.
     
  19. Aussiegirl

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    I've heard other teachers refer to 9th graders as 8th graders in high school. I doubt that is true for all 9th graders.

    I teach MS and yes, I make my kids line up on the wall before class.
     
  20. INteacher

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    Why would it not be truly fair? It is in the handbook, clearly explained. If you are not in your seat when the bells rings, you are tardy. If you are not in your seat when the bell rings in order to not be marked tardy you must have a pass. What do you think is not fair about this rule?
     
  21. eddygirl

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    Our high school has lockers lining the hallway, so if I expected kids to line up before going into the class, they would be blocking someone's locker. I stand in the doorway as kids come in the room; from that position, I can monitor my own students and also watch for any "shenanigans" in the hallway. As soon as the bell rings, I start a prayer (Catholic school) which settles everyone down.

    If you want your students to settle down at the bell, think about some type of bell work - a writing prompt or problem they can work on while you take attendance, accept homework, or any other "paper handling" necessary at the beginning of each class.

    I worked with 8th graders before my current job at a high school. The biggest difference I found was that teenagers want to be "respected," meaning they are not prone to follow rules just because the teacher says so. If you provide a rationale for what you are doing as far as rules, homework, etc., they will work with you (most of the time!). If they feel they are treated unfairly, they will question you unless you can give them a good reason for your actions.

    Also, like Alice has said in many of her posts, keep them working from bell to bell. I teach from the beginning of class until the end of the period; every once in a while they may have 3-5 minutes to start homework, but otherwise I am lecturing, they are working in small groups, or they are working independently. It's hard when you start out to figure out how much material will fit into a class period, so over-plan until you find your stride. As an English teacher, I plan some vocabulary, some grammar, and some literature for each class period; I always end with literature because we can take more time to discuss stories, which I can shorten or stretch out to go to the end of the class period.
     
  22. a teacher

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    What about discipline issues? How often do you get kids who come into class day after day doing the same obnoxious things, such as talking constantly, not working, coming to class without even a pencil, being disruptive, etc.? There are a handful of kids in any teacher's class at the middle school level every year who are like this. Basically they cannot be taught. How and by whom is this handled in the high school?
     
  23. tchr4evr

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    In my experience, at least in my district, in high school, students need to realize that their grades actually count. Meaning, in middle school here, if they fail a class, they still move on. In high school, that no longer applies. If they fail English 9, they have to take it again. You have to expect more responsibility, and don't baby them. They are babied enough as it is.
     
  24. bandnerdtx

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    A teacher, you're going to have a lot of the same issues in high school that you had in middle school. There will be kids who are silly, talkative, sullen, playful, angry... just like in every other segment of the population. The difference is that you can reason a bit more with high school students than you can with middle school kids.

    Regardless of the types of behavior, you need to decide 3 to 5 non-negotiables for your room. For example, for me 1) don't touch my stuff or anyone else's stuff without permission, 2) don't interrupt me in the middle of a lesson with a request to leave my room unless it's an emergency, and 3) don't use inflammatory language (calling people names, profanity). I am like a Marine when it comes to correcting the kids when they break one of those rules. I don't play. However, with other things, I am a little more lenient. I don't turn everything in to a war. What I've learned is that if I come down really hard on 3 or 4 things, the rest of the behavior will fix itself. I don't know why that's true but it is.

    High schoolers are SUPER sensitive to the idea of "fairness". You need to be consistent and treat every student as equally as possible or the kids will rebel against you. They take favoritism to heart (even if you don't mean it that way, that's how they'll see it). As long as you do what you say you're going to do, they'll respect you (and probably eventually like you). With that in mind, don't make threats you can't back up. Simply have set consequences and follow through on them. Even if your consequence is to send the kid to the office and the admin sends them right back, it will mean something that you did what you said you would do.

    Finally, don't take *anything* they do personally. :)
     
  25. a teacher

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    Sounds like all the same things that apply in middle school teaching. What I find is that in the middle school, the most annoying kids can't seem to stop being annoying. Maybe that's what you mean when you say it's easier to reason with high school kids. That's crucial, because when a middle school kid can't control themselves and keeps getting sent out of the room, they are essentially unteachable. The best that you can do is keep them out of everyone's way. It's hard to imagine a high school kid being that thick-headed, because after all, if they give the teacher a hard time, they won't pass, so there are real consequences. I would imagine that knowing this would keep them in line and reasonable.
     
  26. Math

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    Well INteacher if that how it is in your school than okay. However I am not in your school nor do I know the rules of your school. My school is not like that and that is why I asked. Also I wasn't talking about being in the hallways I thought she was saying "if the student was in the room but not in their seats they were tardy." Plus I have not read YOUR schools handbook to see what is, "clearly explained."
     
  27. JustMe

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    I deserve a cookie for showing a little restraint right now. Just saying. :p

    Anyhow, I agree with others that requiring high school students to line up outside of the classroom would not only become a problem with students but also with adminstration what with the blocked lockers and clogged halls. My middle school students must line up outside my door for various reasons, the most important one being that it allows me to monitor the hallway. I cannot, because of my room/hall configuration, monitor the students already inside the classroom and the students still in the hall...so we wait together. It also allows me to provide an introductory message to the students at once. But I think the same procedure in high school would lead to issues.

    Beyond that, I really like what bandnerd said. :)
     
  28. eddygirl

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    ateacher, in our school, we are expected to handle behavior issues and academic issues separately. For example, if a student misbehaves, we can give him a detention, but we can't lower his grade. If he doesn't do his homework or forgets a book, we can make adjustments to his grade (i.e. not prepared for class) but are asked not to give detentions. Before you set your policies for discipline, you might want to check how your administration expects you to respond to behavior and/or academic situations.

    Also, in my experience with the high school setting, the "annoying" kid learns really quickly to settle down via his peers. The other kids will tell him to "cut it out" because they don't want to have to deal with his behavior, either. However, you have to watch out for the "class clown," because if the rest of the kids find him entertaining, they will enjoy when his "shenanigans" disrupt the class. You have stop him right at the beginning of the year so he doesn't feed off the validation he gets from his peers.

    We are discouraged from sending kids out of the room (in our case, to the dean's office) unless there is a major infraction, like fighting or blatant disrespect to the teacher. Detentions are the major form of disciplinary action, but it is wise to use them sparingly or else they lose their impact. I always issue a warning first: "Joe, you have a warning. If you disrupt class again, I will write you a detention." That way, they keep the power to decide if they want the detention; this almost always works for me--I think I wrote four detentions last year, and I had 104 students.
     
  29. a teacher

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    I've tried using peer pressure on middle school kids, for example by naming students who were causing the whole class a penalty. It doesn't seem to have any effect. I think the middle school kids are so clueless they don't even get that they could be bothered by their peers for causing problems for them. Does peer pressure really work at the high school level?

    How effective is detention? Seems a pretty weak penalty for misbehavior unless its for a substantial amount of time after school. I know the middle school kids cant stand staying after school. Its one of the worst punishments to them for some reason. How is it perceived by high school kids?
     
  30. bandnerdtx

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    No, that doesn't work as well, if at all, in high school. As a matter of fact, doing that will often get you in a direct confrontation with a 6'4" adrenaline charged football player! If you "call out" a high school kid in front of his/her peers, be prepared for the tough ones to challenge you head on about what you are and are NOT...

    What I have found works best is to take the kid outside and privately discuss what's happening. Talk about your expectations, your guidelines and the consequences of what will happen if those aren't met. It's at that point that the VAST majority of the time you will find out that the issue has nothing to do with you.

    High school kids, especially "tough" ones, desperately need strong role models and mentors. Be that when you correct a kid, and they'll follow you anywhere.
     
  31. a teacher

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    I'm not sure I get what you're saying. On the one hand you say that detention and calling them out aren't effective. So what happens when you talk to them privately? Do they suddenly come to their senses, so you don't need to punish them? And why would they follow your rules if there are no consequences?

    My experience with middle school kids is that the really bad ones can't control their behavior and are essentially unable to be taught because they will mess up as soon as they are in the room even after being talked to in private. So you end up giving them detention over and over again.
     
  32. KatherineParr

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    In general, I agree with what Bandnerd is saying.

    But (you knew that was coming) I *do* confront students directly and I have no problem with angry young men in my face. Caveat: I teach in a small school where students have often been there since 3 pre-k. They know one another well, and they are socialized to be members of a community.

    That said, when a student is disruptive I stare at him or her and if that fails I speak up. I've done this everywhere I ever taught, which is fairly wide range of places. It works, but I have a pretty substantial classroom presence. No one would mistake me for someone to bully. I think you should consider that any approach is dependent on *you* as much as on them.
     
  33. a teacher

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    I'm intrigued. Can you describe your "substantial" classroom presence?
     
  34. KatherineParr

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    I don't know if I can explain it. My evals reflect that students find me intimidating at first, so they behave out of a sense of caution. But I'm very, very funny. Can't explain that, either. It's just something that happens. So they come to like me and enjoy the class very quickly.

    But they're still kind of scared. So I get this thing where the word among the students is that it's a great class, yet they warn other students not to mess around because *you will be sorry*. I don't consciously employ particular methods, it just sort of happens.

    The one thing I have been doing recently, to great effect, is to drop totally unannounced rewards onto the table. That is, I hold a debate and say there will be prizes. They assume the prize will be a cupcake or something. Instead, the prize is the right to choose your IDs for the mid-term. Suddenly, performance on debates skyrockets.

    Sorry I can't be more specific. I ran the training program for TAs in my department when I was in graduate school. My observation was that the mood of the classroom has a lot to do with the teacher's persona. In my case, that's true, and one of its elements is that students tend to avoid my displeasure.

    And in case you're wondering - I gave three detentions to my own students this year. All were for cell phones ringing. Sometimes, though, I pick up my pile of detention slips and fan myself with them. That tends to settle everyone down.
     
  35. eddygirl

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    ateacher, I realized after reading a couple more posts in this thread that you will probably get a variety of responses because we often base our discipline procedures on the particular population we work with. I teach at an all-boy Catholic high school with a population of 1,000 guys who are racially and socio-economically diverse. About 80% of them play sports, which is very important to them. In my school, a football player would be the last kid to get in a teacher's face because he realizes that one word to his coach would get him benched for the week. The boys also know that detentions are accumulated, which could put them in jeopardy of being kicked out of our school. They don't mess with the basketball coach/teacher because they know he will not take their garbage, but will try to pull stuff on the cute, new female teacher because they don't expect her to be as tough on them.

    During the first two in-service days when I started at my school, I sought out the teachers who I felt were most similar to me. I asked them how they handled discipline and if they would give me some suggestions. They knew the population of the school and could give me advice about how to handle our kids. It worked really well for me, so that's the best suggestion I can offer you.
     
  36. Emily Bronte

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    I have taught students from grades 6-12 and I know from my high school experience that having them line up outside of class wouldn't work too well. What does work is me standing outside the door greeting them as they enter and having a bell-ringer. Also keep in mind that you will learn where your students are at i,n terms of their own development and learning, and what will and will not work. Each class might be a little different.
     
  37. a teacher

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    Do any of you have regular problems with cellphones or headphones in class? Do you then sieze them or do kids often refuse to cooperate? How do you deal with the little annoying things, like many tardies, chewing gum, and breaking other class rules? Is detention really all we have? Is calling home more effective at the hs level than the ms level?
     
  38. dgpiaffeteach

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    This is coming from my extremely limited experience observing and student teaching. We had a big problem where I student taught with cell phones because we were on a college campus and the school felt the kids shouldn't have their phones taken away for longer than one class period in case something happened when they were in a college class (early college program). The Spanish teacher set up a plan where if a student was caught with a phone one time in class then they had to put it in a box on her desk every day for the rest of the quarter before class started and then they picked it up on their way out. She told me that she rarely had repeat offenders!
     
  39. KatherineParr

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    I don't have a huge problem, but perhaps my sense of what "huge" would be is different from yours.

    Students routinely have to be reminded (with detention or confiscation) that they may not text, check the ski report, or otherwise use the phone. But they know it's not allowed. They're sneaking, and when I catch them they surrender the phone or take their detention with good grace.

    As for headphones, they wear them around the neck but take them off in class. I don't worry about it.

    For me, there has never been a refusal. But I believe, and have always believed, that discipline is shaped by your persona. That is, you have to be authoritative to have authority. I don't mean harsh. Authoritative. No one (teen or adult) will respect your leadership if you don't absolutely believe in it. So the question isn't whether someone refuses to cooperate, but rather how you establish that the classroom is your space.

    Last - I have never called home about discipline. I deal with the student, and the cases severe enough to warrant a call (100% cheating) have been handled through the office. I email and call parents with compliments and praise. The parents like it, the students like it, and the extremely important student/teacher relationship is preserved. My AP says that his job is to be the bad guy so teachers don't have to. I love that.
     
  40. platypusok

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    Jul 13, 2011

    Re: cellphone and iPods

    I know that there are teachers in school who do not like what I do but I don't care.

    If I am in the process of direct instruction or they are doing group work or taking a test, I had better not see their cellphone or iPod or them with their hands under their desk and staring down (I really hope they are just texting) or that iPod/cell phone becomes mine.

    When they are doing independent work, I don't care if they have their earphones in. I like background noise when I'm reading.

    As to cell phones, if they are choosing to sit there with their hands under their desks texting when they could be working, then they are also choosing to take that work home for homework.

    Eventually they learn and do their work first.
     
  41. KatherineParr

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    Jul 13, 2011

    This is a point I sometimes make - obliquely. In other words: either you're texting or you're doing something really inappropriate. Which is it?
     

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