Transition to High School: What Teachers Expect

No matter the situation, freshmen year is a time of adjustment. Everyone will experience the transition to high school differently. Here are tips to ensure success. #TeacherTips

If you, a student of yours, or a child of yours is completing the transition to high school, I have a few ideas.

Perhaps you stumbled on this blog post because you are a parent and want to help your child transition to high school in an effective way. Maybe you are headed to high school. You might even be a middle school teacher who wants ideas to share with students.

I have taught high school students for over a decade. No matter the situation, freshmen year is a time of adjustment. Everyone will experience the transition to high school differently. Still, I see a pattern with students who navigate the situation well.

What do I see with successful high school students? Students who…

No matter the situation, freshmen year is a time of adjustment. Everyone will experience the transition to high school differently. Here are tips to ensure success. #TeacherTips

Are prepared.

Preparation is such a simple yet effective step in doing well in high school. Bring writing utensils, paper, a book, and a folder or binder to class every day. Teachers will not stop and wait for students to return from fetching the misplaced item, and students will miss important pieces of information.

Students should arrive mentally prepared as well. This does not mean perfection but rather it means that students should be ready to learn. The teenage years come with tons of social and emotional learning. Focus on class in class.

Take notes.

Taking notes is a lifelong habit, which does not include writing everything from class down in a notebook. When I attend a faculty meeting, a meeting with parents, a meeting with my boss, I take notes.

More than taking notes? Opening your notebook, pen poised shows a willingness to be involved and to participate.

Advocate for themselves.

Sometimes high school teachers have close to 150 students. We want to connect with each student and get to know them on a personal level. The school day moves quickly.

Still, even if that is accomplished, high school students need to advocate for themselves. We teachers might not know troubles at home or difficulties you’ve had previously. I personally love it when a student advocates and approaches me with, “I’ve never told you before, but I used to be in a reading recovery program. It helps me if I do ___.” Sometimes, with so many students, high school teachers simply don’t know. I appreciate learning about previous years of education and what has worked well.

If you are struggling or have a question, a polite email or kind approach will work wonders. Teachers want you to succeed and if you have an idea, most of us want to hear it.

Create strong study habits.

Movies and television shows love to show someone cramming the night before a test. Brain-based research tells us that is not what works best.

Take five minutes and read over your notes daily. Keep track of upcoming projects and tests. Find what helps you study: note cards, rereading notes, or writing main points? Students are essentially in charge of studying, and they should purposefully find what helps them.

Get involved.

Students who participate in school activities perform well academically. Sports are wonderful, as are musical endeavors such as band, chorus, and dance. Students can participate in speech, debate, or scholar bowl.

Any school activity will help you meet people and connect with teachers, coaches, and the community. Don’t be afraid to step away from “standard” activities. Many schools have gaming clubs, a chess teams, and a robotics club. If your school does not have a club that interests you, approach a counselor or teacher with an idea.

Are aware; are readers.

As a high school teacher, I simply want students to be aware of the world and to do this, students should read. High school is a time to prepare teenagers for their next stage of life. Readers do well in the job market and college. Practice reading daily.

Looking for more ideas to prepare for high school? Read ideas for having a successful summer.

The transition to high school is huge, and secondary teachers know that. High school is a different experience that the previous nine years of education. The expectations for students are higher, and everyone expects a high level of independence. There are many ways to be successful in high school, but these six approaches will lead to success.

Are you looking for more ideas to implement into your middle school classroom? I’m presenting at the Middle School English Language Arts Summit, and I’d love for you to listen to these ideas and more! Please join me!

I’ll be chatting about routines and procedures that prepare students for high school at the 2019 MSELA Summit, the virtual summit for Middle School English / Language Arts Teachers!

For five days, this online conference will be bringing you interviews with dozens of teacher experts (and I’m one of them!) who have incredibly valuable advice to share with middle school English / Language Arts teachers.

As a featured guest speaker, I will appear on Day 2: “First Day and First Week Ideas.” In fact, my topic is all about “Procedures for Older Students” to help you think about organizing students and prepping them for the next step in their careers. I’m also featured in a bonus interview session where I share more ideas and strategies to help teachers get and stay organized, too. If this blog post helped you, please join me at the MSELA Summit.

Looking for more ideas? Melissa from Reading and Writing Haven has six executive functioning skills students should have.

Would you like access to free activities and updates? Subscribe here:

* indicates required



What ELA/ teacherish information helps you most?

Lauralee Moss will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. Please let us know all the ways you would like to hear from us:

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at lauralee@languageartsclassroom.com. We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp’s privacy practices here.


This post contains affiliate links, at no cost to you.