How do you like teaching high school?

Note: I started writing this post in December. I am finally finishing it up today!

I get this question frequently since I made a change for middle school to high school this year. The question is often followed up with “Which do you like better?” and of course, “What do you teach?” My response of chemistry and engineering is usually followed by some sort of exclamation, which I can only assume is awe since I guess these are considered challenging subjects. (Although while visiting the doctor the other week, he said his nurse was intimidated by the fact I teach chemistry and engineering!)

Now that I have an entire semester of teaching high school under my belt, I thought I share some of things I have found different about teaching high school compared to middle school.

1. Students are more mature.

I’m sure you are thinking, “obviously,” but I have this unique perspective on some of my students because I taught them in sixth grade, and now I teach them as freshman or sophomores or juniors. I love watching these once crazy sixth graders grow towards adulthood. I also wish some of their other middle school teachers could see them now!

2. Students are more proactive.

Another effect of students being more mature is that they are now more proactive. No longer afraid to approach me with questions or concerns, I get a lot more students asking for help with understanding, completing assignments, and figuring out how to bring grades up. Instead of emails from parents, I get emails from students taking charge and taking care of things. It is really awesome!

3. Students like to be at school.

It amazes me how many kids are still at school every afternoon. The bell rings at 2:10 to dismiss for the day, but the building is still filled with the sounds of learning whether it be sports, cheer leading, music, drama, robotics or other activities, students like to be at school. It seems like the doors of the school never close! On the other hand, I think some kids stay at school because it’s a nice/safer place for them to be than at home.

4. Students are discovering themselves.

I think this is my favorite part of teaching high school. It is amazing to watch students discover passions and uncover talents. The student I talked about in my previous post who filed for a copyright and is not working on trademarks and design patents is a great example. One of things I like best about the way CDAT works is that students can follow their passions and talents and we help align their learning experiences to them.

5. Students are still kids.

It’s not all serious, and it’s not all perfect. After all, I still teach kids. High school students are still kids learning to make good choices. They are still fun and silly and crazy. And class is rarely boring. Like this time when we were modeling periodic trends with straws and Play-doh, and a student made up this rap on the spot.

Or when we took our students to the regional science fair a few weeks ago. They were outstanding the entire event and represented themselves and our school well. However, they still found their fun side when I asked them to pose for a fun photo.

Science FairAnd then there are the things I love that are not related to the students – like being able to run to the bathroom between classes and having an hour for lunch (at least this year). Overall, I love teaching high school, and I hope I am having a positive impact on students. So if you ask me how I like teaching high school, you will find I love it. I am having a fabulous year and doing amazing things with classes and students. I am looking forward to where this journey continues to take me.

By Janelle

Space geek, science nerd extraordinaire. That's me! Want to know more, visit the About page.

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