Tips for managing your virtual classroom

What does classroom management look like without the classroom? How can teachers set expectations and hold students accountable during remote learning? We asked our Professional Learning Group of IXL teacher trainers, and here are their top tips!

 

Tip #1: Don’t reinvent the wheel

Think about the existing classroom management methods you’ve used successfully in the past. Those tried-and-true strategies, with a little tweaking, will work just as well in this new virtual environment. 

For example, teachers generally expect students to raise their hand before sharing their thoughts. What do you want this to look like in your virtual classroom? Many video conferencing platforms include a hand-raising tool and a chat box—or, you can designate a series of hand signals for students to use. Also, decide whether you’d like your students to be on ‘mute’ until they’re called upon, or if you prefer a more open discussion.

You may want to establish a visual cue, such as a sign or a prop, that you can use if your students get off-course or are being disruptive. When this cue is agreed upon in advance, it’ll be easier to get your students back on track.

Choose strategies that feel natural to you, and fit in well with your usual classroom management style to provide a consistent comfortable learning environment for everyone.

 

Tip #2: Set clear expectations and model them 

Once you’ve decided what your classroom expectations are, communicate them with your class clearly and often. 

This could include creating a contract that you settle on together and have each student sign. Be sure to share it with parents as well, so they’re in the loop! 

Just as you would create a poster board for your classroom, you can create a visual reminder of your expectations to share on your class website, Zoom waiting screen, Google Classroom, or LMS. Free resources like Canva can make designing this easy for anyone—plus, there’s no printing or cutting required! 

Take a few minutes at the beginning of each class to remind students of your collective learning expectations, until you’ve all got it down. Be sure to continuously model the behaviors you expect throughout the class, so that students can follow your lead.

 

Tip #3: Engage with students throughout the lesson

It’s important for students to participate in each class, so that they remain engaged and you can check for understanding. This doesn’t need to look very different from in-person learning, and there are even some fun digital tools that can help! 

For example, you can create “checkpoints” throughout the class by having students answer questions in the chat box, reacting with a thumbs up or hand raise, or creating a quick poll. 

On IXL, you can chat with students directly through the Live Classroom report. This is helpful for monitoring student progress, giving kudos, and providing assistance when students are struggling with a concept. The real-time support from their teacher will go a long way!

 

Giving students responsibility is another great way to keep them engaged, while taking a few things off of your plate. For example, you can designate a timekeeper, answer checker, and student picker, and rotate these responsibilities between students each week.

 

Tip #4: Check in with students and parents

It’s important to show students that they’re accountable for their actions, no matter the setting. However, keep in mind that this is new for everyone, and it may be more of a process. In 1:1 check-ins with students, provide feedback on how they’re doing with your expectations, set achievable goals for improvement, and be sure to celebrate successes! Allow them to voice their thoughts as well, so you can get a sense of how they’re doing overall.

Check in with parents to keep them up-to-date, as well as hear their thoughts. It’s best to create a consistent way to do this that works for you, whether it’s a monthly check-in call, or a weekly status update email.

 

This is a new format, and it’s a learning experience for everyone! Feel free to adjust your strategies to what ultimately works best for both you and your students. If you do make changes, just continue to communicate your expectations clearly with your class along the way!