Virtual classrooms have become an important part of the education landscape. To continue effective learning when the students are online, it’s crucial to develop management techniques that work in this unique environment. Fortunately, you can implement a few key protocols to help your classes run smoothly.
Keep Distractions To a Minimum
You may be teaching your class from home or another unusual location. For optimal learning, your space should be as neutral as possible. Your students will be riveted by any distractions in the background. So take down your Ziggy Stardust poster and clear the dishes off the table. Better yet, use a custom Google Meet background for a distraction-free environment.
Establish the Class Rules
On the first day of class, take 15 or 20 minutes to set the expectations and the boundaries. The students can and should offer input about what they want their online education to look like. Agree on a shortlist of class rules. Typically no more than five is best. Consider including statements such as:
- Video cameras remain on all the time.
- Be sitting in a chair at a desk or table.
- No eating during class.
- Use the raise hand function when you want to speak.
Create an Engaging Routine
Routines and structure are important to students. Set up your class schedule and stick to it. Only deviate in the event of an emergency. Post in the group chat or another location what the schedule is for the day so students can refer to it when they need to.
You can also give transition warnings, which are helpful for many students. For example, you can announce, “We will begin reading together in 10 minutes.” Then give a five-minute warning and a two-minute warning. This allows students to prepare themselves mentally for the new task.
Using a virtual background, such as a Zoom office background with company logo, helps with the routine. Students thrive in stable educational environments. If your screen looks the same to them each day, they feel more secure.
Reinforce Positive Behavior
Everyone loves a compliment. Children are no exception. When you see good behavior, call it out. Thank a student for their excellent reading. Compliment a student for leaving their camera on for the entire class period. If someone wore a fun outfit on camera or is using a creative Microsoft Teams virtual background, let them know you noticed and give them a virtual pat on the back.
Utilize selective attention. Focus on the behaviors that you want to encourage, and ignore the ones you don’t want in your classroom. If students continually jump into the conversation without raising their hands, ignore that behavior and engage with the students raising their hands. Of course, some behaviors can’t be ignored and must be nipped in the bud. Use your best judgment.
Be Happy and Enthusiastic
Your students take their cues from you. No matter how tired you are of going online, be cheerful. Provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and they will want to join you in your virtual classroom.