You’re a secondary teacher:

  • Passionate about educating your students
  • Intent on bringing your subject area content to life
  • Determined to create a classroom community in which your students learn together, grow together, and respect themselves, their peers, and you

You also face some unique challenges. For example, your classroom management concerns — and solutions — are different from those of younger grades. Enter Teachers Pay Teachers

Classroom Management for Secondary Teachers: Tried-and-True Tips and Resources

TpT Teacher-Author All Things Algebra says, “It can be difficult to come up with ways to make things fun and relevant to a teenager. And finding the time to create such activities is the biggest challenge! TpT is great for the secondary teacher because you can find a vast amount of these types of activities that keep students interested, engaged, and enjoying their time in the classroom. Secondary teachers can also feel a bit more isolated at times than elementary teachers because we are so content-based. TpT provides a way for us to break down these isolation walls and collaborate with teachers everywhere, while discovering new and fresh ideas!”

We asked secondary teachers on TpT to offer tips and resources for successful classroom management. Their ideas are excellent and they’re tried-and-true. May your implementation of even just one recommendation result in something great:

Cultivate Tomorrow’s Leaders

Creating Student Leaders in Class - Back to School, Class Management“I’ve taught high schoolers for 15 years, and I always take advantage of their willingness to help with my Class Leader system. I have students apply to be class leaders, and then have them become responsible for their team or row. These class leaders help motivate students to do their work, and they keep track of who turned in what assignment each week. Students compete for points; they love the friendly competition! As a result, the overall class performs better, and students rise up! My Creating Student Leaders in Class – Back to School, Class Management explains the entire idea.” – Making Meaning with Melissa

“To help with classroom management, I’ve used a classroom economic system. This Classroom Job system has been used for over 20 years in my classroom at both a junior high and high school level. I’ve shared it with many teachers, and they too have experienced success. The system is set up to mimic a state government with the teacher as the ‘Governor’ and an elected student as your second-in-command, your ‘Lieutenant Governor.’ Interested students will apply for and receive a job in your classroom, with students actively campaigning for your Lieutenant Governor. Jobs range from an Attendance Manager to even an Interior Decorator to help you change out bulletin boards. There are a variety of jobs to fit a variety of student interests. Students receive a paycheck for their services, but also have to pay ‘taxes’ or ‘fines’. Students are ‘fined’ for chewing gum and committing other offenses. Here’s the complete resource: Classroom Management – Classroom Jobs.” – Social Studies Success Academic Conversations Bundle - Posters + Placemats + Student Flipbook

“When it comes to classroom management in high school, it can be really difficult to get students talking on task. Oftentimes, when asked to a discuss a topic, students may 1) just scratch the surface of the topic, or 2) get off-topic and start talking about something completely different! I love using my Academic Conversations Bundle – Posters + Placemats + Student Flipbook to keep the conversation on-task and to help illicit deeper conversations on that topic. These are great because they help students start off their ideas, help to bridge the gap between students in different cliques, and are applicable for any subject.” – Mrs Brosseau’s Binder

“At the beginning of the year, teachers are still figuring out who’s in the room — what the students know and what the students need. If we change our focus and remember that we teach teenagers, not subjects, we can get in front of issues and catch problems before they cause damage. Here’s a compilation of resources to help teachers understand their clientele and prepare them for learning the content: Study Like a BOSS {Secondary Study Skills Unit}.” – Angie Kratzer

Plan Ahead and A Lot

Word of the Day: 18 weeks of daily bellwork

“My tips for effective classroom management in the secondary classroom are as follows: 1) Over-plan. Make sure you have enough lectures/classwork/activities to take up the entire class period, and edit as you go, if need be. Emphasize that in your classroom, everyone always works from ‘bell-to-bell.’ 2) Have set routines like bell work. Students should know the procedure, such as: ‘Every single day when you come into class, you pull out your notebook and start doing the bell work.’ Here’s my Word of the Day: 18 weeks of daily bell work resource.” – SunnyDaze

“I believe it’s important for the secondary classroom to have polished, structured lessons from bell to bell. My classroom management style is pretty much based on two sentences: ‘1) I expect to treat you like an adult and that you will act like an adult. 2) If you make it clear that you are not capable of consistently acting like an adult, we will talk to your parents about the class and your learning.’ I’ll never send a student to the principal, but I’ve called hundreds of parents.” – 21st Century Math Projects

Get Interactive

“When I first started teaching, it was such a struggle using strategies for differentiation and student-centered activities — especially while teaching high school students. Long gone are the days of lecture-style teaching and worksheets. We want movement. We want independent learners. We want students to walk away with 21st century skills. My blog post What Does a Student Centered Classroom Look Like? talks about flip books as an effective tool for students to keep their unit materials organized while engaging in center activities. And FLIPtorial…How to Assemble a Flip Book: A Visual Guide is a a great tool to refer to when you’re assembling a Study All Knight flip book. Since my classes have been using flip books, there’s been less stress on me and more ownership for my students (and lots of smiles). Here’s a cool secondary ELA flip book that’s great for Halloween: Edgar Allan Poe: Interactive Layered Flip Book.” – Danielle Knight

Interactive Notebook Templates 1000+ (Classroom & Commercial)“My blank Interactive Notebook Templates 1000+ (Commercial & Personal Use) are great for keeping high school students more engaged in note-taking. These also help eliminate a lot of boredom that can lead to other issues in the classroom.” – The Candy Class

“Decorating the high school classroom can be an afterthought, for sure, but posters that teach or interactive bulletin boards that inspire can prove really meaningful. Check out my Sudoku Interactive Bulletin Board. Classroom routines are so important, too. One thing I do to help my geometry and calculus students is review previous math skills each week. I give out a 10-question review sheet on Monday that’s due on Friday. Students know they have the week to work on it, and they can ask me questions along the way. Believe it or not, as the year goes on, if I forget to hand this out on Monday, my students ask for it! Here it is: Algebra Weekly Review for Geometry Students.” – Teaching High School Math

Set Ground Rules and Routines

Something that’s always helped me at the high school level is to have routines for my students. I started my career at the middle school level, and when I transitioned to high school, I kept a lot of my routines. These are just a few of the elements that help me with classroom management. 1) Students pick up any papers as they enter the room, so it saves time on passing out papers. 2) Bell work and journal writing, which creates a working mindset. 3) Strategic partner pairing according to reading levels. 4) Gradual release on activities. (for a sample lesson on gradual release, take a look at my Tone and Mood resource.) 5.) Absent bulletin board with folders for each class. Handouts for those students are stapled and put into those folders. This board also has missing assignment sheets for those who don’t turn in their homework.” – Homegrown Teacher

“It’s not easy having 100 or more students in and out of your classroom each day, especially when they’re very busy with extracurricular activities and planning for college, and you’re so busy perfecting your knowledge of the subject as it is. I put together an organizational guide and supporting documents to help secondary teachers keep their classroom organized and their minds at ease; and most importantly, increase their efficiency so that they have more time to spend outside the classroom! Here it is: Classroom Organization for Secondary Teachers: A Guide to More Focused Students.“- Biology Roots

“With more than 150 students coming in and out of my classroom each day, it became clear that finding a method to manage the classroom in an organized way would be the only way to maintain some sanity! I put together a bundle of my classroom management essentials that I use every year. It includes, among many other resources, forms for handling incomplete work, absenteeism, cell-phone misuse, and early finishers. Here it is: Classroom Management Resources.” – Presto Plans

Syllabus Template for High School“My Syllabus Template for High School helps teachers lay out their classroom expectations in a way that encourages responsibility.” – Ms Fuller’s Teaching Adventures

“Classroom management is something I struggled with during my first years of teaching high school students. I designed specific rules for secondary students; high school teachers can actually have students apply the rules by addressing the scenarios provided for role-playing and application of rules. Take a look: Back to School Classroom Rules Featuring Squiggly.” – Creative Expressions

“Here’s a handout that’s useful for high teachers who need to set expectations for behavior in their classroom: Classroom Etiquette Handout for Middle School and High School.” – HappyEdugator

“I’ve always looked for ways to keep quick track of class participation, so I created my Class Participation Tracker, an easy assessment rubric for remembering who’s actively participated in class that day. It helps me keep a close handle on reading, writing, talking and listening, as well as excellent behavior or quiet completion. You can also keep track of how many times a student is out of the classroom each week, how many times a student doesn’t bring materials, as well as excessive talking or distracting behavior. Teachers can choose their own percentage of points to use, print the form, fill in students’ names, and start tracking.” – The English Teacher’s Pet

“I try not to burden my students with too many rules or policies the first few weeks of school as they also have other classes where they’re receiving rules or policies that may be completely different from my class, and it can be a bit overwhelming to process everything. In an effort to help my students out and ensure their success, I always start with three basic rules I want to establish as quickly as possible and maintain throughout the year: 1) How students should enter the class, 2) the teacher class signal, and 3) how students should prepare for the end of class. I also make time to visit students outside of my class, whether it be during lunch or during my conference period to speak with them about their academic and/or behavioral progress. I make sure to speak to their successes as well as challenges, but I always remain positive. I’ve found this to be a great classroom management tool, as I’m able to quickly build a rapport with students.” – Bond with James

 Have Fun With Incentives, Brain Breaks, and More

Incentives for Middle School and High School Students

“Classroom management at the high school level can be a little tough. For the several years I taught 11th grade, I actually found out that high school students enjoyed some of the same things as my middle school students. Implementing a reward/incentive program in the classroom is a great way to encourage and motivate high schoolers. Take a look: Incentives for Middle School and High School Students.” – Right Down the Middle with Andrea

I recommend always using a timer to help you stay on task and stay within the time you’ve estimated you wish to spend on each segment of your lesson plan. Or, you can use an online stopwatch; there are several free versions that even have themes. One of my favorites is an athletic event where four people are running a foot race. The leader changes as time passes and it can be shown on an interactive white board for students to help manage their own time while working on tasks.” – Madame H

Sometimes it’s important to just take a break! I have a great set of products that allow students and teachers to step away from the rigors of standards and just have fun, while still practicing important critical thinking skills. Take a look at Winter LOGIC PUZZLES: 5 Critical Thinking Activities with Grids and Tables.” – Strawberry Shake

Speaking of Science Safety

“In science, one of the most important management tools to have are procedures for lab safety. Students need to know what to do in the event of an injury or accident. They also should be aware of their boundaries, and they need to respect the rules during science experimentation. In order for students to be held accountable for their actions, we use a lab safety contract that is signed by both parent and student. When rules are broken, everyone is aware of the consequences, so there’s no arguing the steps that are taken to deal with infractions. Here’s the contract: Science Lab Safety Bundle.” – Getting Nerdy With Mel and Gerdy

Lab Safety: The Ultimate Lab Safety Bundle for Science Teachers“A plan of attack in the high school science lab is a must. Students must be schooled in disciplined lab safety procedures, and the teacher must make sure they’re carried out. Here’s Lab Safety: The Ultimate Lab Safety Bundle for Science Teachers.” – Science Stuff

“In my opinion, success in teaching science comes from establishing strong classroom procedures, safety rules, and routines. At the same time, teachers need to be able to present the content and topics in a fun and engaging way.” – Maggie’s Files



Together we can face any challenges as deep as the ocean and as high as the sky.”

– Sonia Gandhi