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What High School Teachers Do

High school teachers help prepare students for life after graduation. They teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market.


High school teachers typically do the following:

High school teachers generally teach students from the 9th through 12th grades. They usually teach one or two of the subjects or classes a student has throughout the day. For example, they may teach government and history.

In one class, high school teachers may work with students from different grades because, in many schools, students are divided into classes based on their abilities, not only their age. For example, a high school teacher of Spanish may have students from 9th through 12th grades in first-year Spanish and also have students from 9th to 12th grades in advanced Spanish—depending on how much language instruction the students have had.

High school teachers see several different classes of students throughout the day. They may teach the same material—for example, world history—to more than one class if the school has many students taking that subject.

Some teachers instruct special classes, such as art, music, and physical education. For more information, see the profile on career and technical education teachers.

Teachers use time during the day, when they do not have classes, to plan lessons, grade assignments, and meet with other teachers and staff.

In some schools, there are English as a second language (ESL) or English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) teachers who work exclusively with students who are learning English. These students are often referred to as English language learners (ELLs). These teachers work with students individually or in groups to help them improve their English skills and to help students with assignments for other classes.

Students with learning disabilities and emotional or behavioral disorders often are taught in traditional classes. Therefore, high school teachers may work with special education teachers to adapt lessons to these students’ needs and to monitor the students’ progress. For more information, see the profile on special education teachers.

Some teachers maintain websites to communicate with parents about students’ assignments, upcoming events, and grades. For students, teachers may create websites or discussion boards to present information and to expand a lesson taught in class.

Some high school teachers coach sports and advise student clubs and other groups, activities which frequently happen before or after school.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition