Building positive classroom culture, creating effective classroom management systems, and gaining student investment takes a lot of planning and dedication from educators. It may take years to successfully create and execute a classroom system of consequence and rewards. Teachers are now trying to quickly come up with brand new systems of virtual classroom management.
The problem behaviors seen during remote learning are different than in-person school. Teachers are worried about inappropriate memes being chatted to the class, microphone unmutes that cause a commotion, and students being distracted by extra website tabs. These behaviors require the same amount of consistency and planning to successfully address. Here are a few tips on ways you can create a virtual classroom management system that really works.
1. Be Proactively Positive in Your Virtual Classroom Management
Work on all of the positive culture builders with your online class. Build relationships with students one-on-one through things like direct zoom chatting, phone calls, or personal emails. Provide lots of positive feedback to students and praise to increase investment and desire to stay engaged in class. Set proactive expectations like being on time, participating when asked, muting your microphone, being respectful to the teachers and classmates, and chatting responsibly. Use the first few days to give reminders and norm on the expectations. Remote learning is new for everyone and mistakes can happen, so give a few days for students to learn the new class expectations. Also make sure to proactively plan engagement strategies. The more students are engaged in their learning, the less likely they are to misbehave during class. This is a key element of virtual classroom management.
Another great resource to check out is the RULER Charter activity from the Yale Center of Emotional Intelligence. A class charter helps build empathy, respect, and creates classroom norms. It also helps to create rules and expectations based on how the student community wanted to feel every day during virtual school. You can refer back to the charter a lot to both praise and correct behavior. Here is a video of a teacher making a charter with her classroom.
2. Communicate Expectations with Parents
Make sure that parents know your class expectations so they can reiterate them and support you at home; this can be immensely helpful in virtual classroom management. If you have dress code expectations, participation expectations, video or microphone expectations, or any other specific things students should or should not be doing during class, make sure to communicate that to parents. Parents are on the front lines of remote learning. It’s important to make sure they are up to speed with your class culture norms to help you positively lead your classroom.
3. Positive Rewards
Virtual classroom management isn’t just about consequence, it’s also about positive reinforcement and praise. Teachers can choose rewards and incentives that make sense for your classroom and students. Incentives can reward student class work, behavior, or just living out your classroom norms. Ideas of positive rewards can be virtual lunches, virtual field trips, choosing a class theme, deciding what kind of crazy outfit the teacher will wear the next day, or having something sent to them through snail-mail. Positivity goes a long way for student investment and relationship building.
4. Have Clear Consequences
Classroom culture isn’t magically created through only positive rewards and expectation setting. There does need to be clear consequences in place that have to be consistently utilized. Students and parents both should be aware of consequences of student behavior in the virtual setting. Teachers can send home a parent letter with their consequences or have a parent meeting about virtual classroom management to make sure everyone is clear on next steps during this time. Some ideas of consequences may be a temporary removal from virtual class or a ladder like:
- Verbal warning from the teacher
- Student and teacher virtual conference
- Parent, student, and teacher virtual conference
- Referral to administrator
Whatever you or your school decides on for consequences during virtual schooling, make sure they are extremely clear to both students and parents. Also, make sure that your virtual classroom management consequences are done with love and respect. Learning at home is difficult, so make sure to give extra grace and care to students during this time.
5. Don’t Do Too Much
Having clear consequences and expectations are extremely important for all classroom environments, but take advantage of the opportunity to release some control during at-home learning. Control what is necessary, but let go of trying to control everything. What makes sense in the classroom doesn’t always make sense in virtual learning. If a student is tapping their pencil while muted or wearing a hat, it may not be worth interrupting class. Focus on learning and do what you can, but don’t feel the need to do too much.