High school classroom management can be tricky. You can’t play the Quiet Game to earn tickets like elementary and they’re too cool for “focus” trackers like in middle school. If there’s one thing high schoolers are though, it’s competitive. Thankfully, there’s a classroom management tool for that!

Using teams in your high school classroom management strategy

Classroom Management with Teams

With so many sections/blocks/hours and so many students a day, teachers need an easy and effective way to keep these teenagers focused on the goal. So, I turned my classroom into a big competition.

The Setup

To set up this high school classroom management tool, create 3-5 teams per class period of about 5-6 people each. You’ll want each team to be decently diverse with all ability levels and personality. I know this is easier said than done, but I believe in you.

The key is to have the teams be arranged in a seating chart where they can quickly confer together for challenges, check in on each other, and answer questions for each other. Having team members seated next to each other will also make your life easier when rewarding points.

Bonus: these also became their lab groups and project partners. It’s gone over really well keeping their groups together for everything and really develops the team mentality

Using teams in my high school classroom management strategy to promote learning and cooperation

Scoring Points

Teams can score points based on any criteria you want to work on. For my classes, they were given the following list for how to score points:

  • Following the rules
  • Turning in work on time (our big focus)
  • Teamwork during labs and assignments
  • Prepared for class
  • Highest average test grade
  • Most improved test grade
  • Review games
  • Design Challenges

The methods were left intentionally vague so it became my discretion when to award points and how many. This also keeps them from trying to keep their own score and “catch” me not awarding points.

To track points, I created mini versions of the large posters I created and will tally points as I see fit on them. Then, once a week I will update the scores.

The First Challenge

Because I have now created newer groups than they’ve ever been used to, I like to do a design challenge or review game to kick everything off. My biology classes used my ABC’s of… review when we came back from break to get their brains fired up on biology again. Physical Science did a water tower design challenge using paper and styrofoam cups.

(If you were to start this in the beginning of the year, any design or teamwork challenge would be great to just get them thinking!)

As this happened, they needed to create a team name and decide a mascot. I then took these and created team posters (using the website Canva.com) that I could laminate and track points on. If they couldn’t decide a name, I let another hour create one for them (which is why I have a team named “Buttons” and “Spoons”, but they don’t mind!)


How I use teams in my high school classroom management strategy to promote learning and cooperation

The key is that I keep control over when and what the rewards are. They never know when I will decide to check the total points and what the reward might be. I did offer up these options in the beginning:

  • Extra Credit towards a test/quiz
  • Homework Pass
  • Homemade Ice Cream (in a bag)
  • Pizza party
  • Candy and soda of their choice
  • Classroom Playlist Control
  • Stickers

I also am looking for overall team wins between ALL of my Biology and ALL of my Physical Science classes to create more of a fun competition.

Using teams in my high school classroom management strategy to promote learning and cooperation

Classroom Management Successes

Already, I have seen a HUGE increase in assignments turned in, focused work time in class, students helping other students to understand homework… it’s been a real game-changer!

This has also been a really great way to incorporate the students who are quieter or less confident. They see themselves as a part of a smaller team and are more likely to speak up or find themselves being needed instead of in the larger class setting.

While teenagers can be harsh and difficult sometimes, putting them into a fun and competitive team environment has really helped my high school classroom management (and their grades) soar!