High School Teachers

High school teachers play a fundamental role in the lives of adolescents, deepening the knowledge taught in junior high school and assisting the transition from childhood to adulthood.

High school teachers specialize in specific subjects, such as mathematics, history or chemistry, but their jobs give them an opportunity to use many skills.

The High School Teaching Job

Today’s high school teacher is a far cry from the stereotypical individual standing at the chalkboard. Teachers, more than lecturers, serve as coaches, who use hands-on approaches to facilitate student learning. They know that games and discussions stimulate critical thinking, while cameras and computers can reinforce technical lessons.

Computers and the Internet are playing an increasingly important role in high school students’ education. Educational software programs promote interactive learning to students who are accustomed to technology. The Internet allows students to collect information and to share experiences with students from throughout the world.

High school teachers must continually update their technology skills so they can teach students effectively, record grades, and perform other computer-related administrative duties.

In addition to conducting classroom activities, high school teachers oversee study halls and homerooms, supervise extracurricular activities, and accompany students on field trips. Teachers who have not yet made tenure in their school system are often required to participate in more of these extracurricular organizations. Teachers also participate in education conferences and workshops and, in some schools, assist in school decision-making regarding budgets, textbooks, and teaching methods.

Most teachers work a 10-month school year with a 2-month summer vacation. During the break, they may teach in summer sessions, take other jobs, pursue hobbies or spend time with their families.

Teaching Techniques

A major focus in twenty-first century education is preparing students to enter the workforce. To be successful, students must learn to think critically, interact well with others, and adapt to new technology. High school teachers are tasked with preparing students in these areas, and they often use group projects to encourage working together to solve problems.

High school teachers’ presentations of the material are designed to match overall student abilities, though they may offer additional assistance to students who need extra help. Teachers plan and assign lessons to guide the teaching program, then design and grade tests that evaluate what students have learned. Teachers are also responsible for grading papers, preparing report cards and meeting with parents and school staff to discuss students’ progress.

In addition to being knowledgeable in their subject, teachers must be able to communicate with, motivate, and inspire trust and confidence in students. An important part of preparing students for the future is meeting their emotional, as well as educational, needs. Teachers must be able to recognize differences between students and to employ teaching methods that meet individual student needs. This is especially important in an environment becoming increasingly ethnically and culturally diverse.
Advancement for High School Teachers

With additional training, teachers may move into other positions, including librarians, instructional coordinators, or guidance counselors. Teachers may become administrators or supervisors or work as a mentor, earning higher pay while guiding less experienced teachers and keeping most of their own teaching responsibilities.

Teachers may boost their salary in several ways. Some schools pay higher salaries to those who coach sports or organize extracurricular activities for students. Teachers may also receive a raise in pay if they earn a Master’s degree or earn a national certification. The national teaching certification also allows teachers to transfer their teaching license from one state to another.

Job Prospects for High School Teachers

Job opportunities for high school teachers are excellent for the next few years, though possibilities depend primarily on the geography of the school and the subject being taught.

Job openings are resulting from large numbers of teachers leaving the workforce due to retirement or the decision to leave teaching after working a year or two in under-resourced schools.

Job prospects are better in inner cities and rural areas than in suburban districts, and teachers willing to teach in these schools may receive performance benefits. Districts throughout the United States have difficulties hiring teachers in mathematics, science, foreign languages and special education, so teachers qualified to teach those areas should have better than average success finding a teaching position.

Requirements for High School Teachers

An attractive option for individuals interested in obtaining a certification is the Web-Centric Alternative Certification Program (WCACP) . The WCACP allows individuals to obtain their teaching certification from the comfort of their own home. Courses, video-conferences and chats are conducted entirely online, so students can work at their own pace.