Transition to High School: What Teachers Expect

If you, a student of yours, or a child of yours is completing the transition to high school, I have a few ideas. What do teachers expect from students? I have 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. You might be a freshmen ELA high school teacher checking out expectations. Whoever you are, you are wondering what to expect in high school.

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…

Are you considering the transition to high school, specifically what teachers expect from high school freshmen? Every year, parents and students ask what to expect in high school, and this secondary teacher can explain what do teachers expect from students. High school freshmen can enter high school prepared with certain skills to ensure they are prepared for high school.

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. If you have a laptop or iPad, bring it charged to class. 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.

Part of preparation is goal setting for achieving success 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.

Doodling and drawing can be effective note-taking pieces

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.

Teachers want to communicate with students!

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.

Study habits can involve working together in groups.

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 a gaming club, a chess team, and a robotics club. If your school does not have a club that interests you, approach a counselor or teacher with an idea.

Most schools have websites or lists of clubs and activities for new students to peruse. 

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.

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

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Do you need a straightforward set of activities to review with your incoming freshmen? Answer keys are included.