10 Ways to Manage Your Remote Learning Classroom

Veteran teacher Heather shares 10 helpful ways you can manage your classroom online so that your year goes smoothly and all students have the opportunity to learn and succeed.

Updated on: October 26, 2020

Distracted boy in remote learning class

If you think back to the day you started your college teaching courses, you probably thought you’d need some minimal experience with online learning. Fast forward to 2020, and BAM! You are instantly an online teacher, whether you are full virtual or working in a hybrid model (and frankly, whether you want to or not!). Like the age-old saying goes, “The show must go on!” When it comes to running your online “show,” your management may have been put to the test in a major way. Whether you feel like you are struggling or have really gotten used to this new teaching platform, it can be agreed that there is always room for improvement where classroom management is concerned. Read on to learn about 10 helpful ways you can manage your classroom in remote learning so that your year goes smoothly and all students have the opportunity to learn and succeed.

1.  Yes/No Examples

Teach your students from the get-go what is appropriate and inappropriate online behavior through the modeling process. Students will get a kick out of these examples, which you can act out. For example, you can take advantage of the chat feature by typing random letters, messages, etc. The students should all chime in that this should not be allowed. You can also show them the “raise hand” feature, the mute feature, etc., and they should all chime in that these are preferred online-learning behaviors. These positive and negative behaviors will keep your students’ attention and teach them the rules of online learning at the same time.

2.  Always Have a Time-Filler Ready to Go

If you are bound to have a 45-minute, live online ELA or math session, it’s important to abide by these guidelines. If you finish a lesson or activity early, which is definitely a possibility, there are still ways you can keep your kiddos engaged while online. Always have a time-filler ready to go. Whether you read from a popular novel or play a few rounds of “Would You Rather,” you will keep everyone busy, attentive, and online during your obligated teaching time.

3.  Practice, Practice, Practice

The only way you can ensure perfect and proper classroom management online is by practicing with your students. Each session, practice sending an appropriate chat or an appropriate reaction, locating the “raise hand” feature, and quickly muting/unmuting students by using the space bar (if you are utilizing Zoom). Discuss online safety, such as how students should NEVER enter a live session if not directed by the teacher. 

4.  Call on Students Fairly

It’s very easy to focus on students in front of you if you are teaching in a hybrid model that involves streaming live for virtual students simultaneously. In order to manage student responses fairly, put a colorful piece of painter’s tape that sticks off the side of your computer that you are using to remind yourself to take turns calling on students. Pose a question and take a response from a physical student first, and then call on a virtual student. This strategy ensures fairness and involvement for all, and the colorful visual cues can quickly remind you to do so. 

5.  Keep an Attendance Clipboard

Keeping track of attendance can be a difficult and confusing feat when teaching in a hybrid or fully virtual model. Consider keeping an attendance clipboard to serve as a physical copy and visual reminder of who you physically have on a given day. This can be helpful in case of emergency drills or switching classes in older elementary grades. Simply put each student’s name on the clipboard in a chart form and set up columns that name each day of the week. Set up a system that works for you when marking who is present. For example, a red checkmark can account for physical students and a blue checkmark can account for online students. This physical record is important because it always keeps you in the know of who you are responsible for for the day, and who has been upholding their responsibilities of attending school, whether physically or virtually.

6.  Uphold High Expectations

Make it your policy that if students are learning from home, they must be seated at a desk or table, not laying on the floor or curled up in their beds. Continue to post rules and enforce them. Students need to still raise their hand, come prepared to online class, complete their work in a timely manner, and show respect to all, regardless of the learning platform. If these rules are not followed, have a system established to deal with these behaviors. Whether you end their online session, refer them to the principal or schedule an online parent conference, students will understand that they are held to high expectations while at home or in school.

7.  Utilize Breakout Rooms

Some online platforms, such as Zoom, offer breakout room features in their settings. This makes managing small groups of students, such as those with special needs or accommodations, a snap for you or your support teachers.

8.  Keep Your Links Live

It's a wise idea to keep your Zoom or Google Meet link live and accessible so students can come on to ask a question if needed. This helps to ensure work gets turned in in a timely manner and communication is always open for and to all.

9.  Make How-to Videos

Personalized, instructional how-to videos are a great way to manage student assignments and ensure success. You can use a helpful tool, such as Screencastify, to record step-by-step instructions with visuals, a tutorial under a student view, or a personalized message for a parent or student with whom you are trying to get a firm and clear message across to.

10.  Set Up a Virtual Classroom

Virtual classrooms that house your virtual Bitmoji are fun and wonderful ways to set up interactive management. These clickable classrooms allow for a number of things--from accessing reading material to extra math practice, or even to posted online grading policies; many educators are turning to a virtual classroom to manage their assignments and important procedures.

Managing your classroom online isn’t always easy, but it can be achieved through patience, practice, and experience. These ten tips will help you establish policies and procedures, as well as assist you in a smooth transition from the computer to the “classroom”.

Heather Aulisio is a third grade teacher in Pennsylvania. She has been a teacher for nearly 15 years and holds multiple degrees and certifications. A freelancer for The Mailbox and other education-related clients and publications, she enjoys writing in order to help and entertain fellow teachers. She currently resides with her husband, Bryan; son, Matthew; and two pugs, Lily and Leo.

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