Every teacher has had that same nightmare. Likely, more than once. You know the one. You are teaching your lesson, the one you spent so much time perfecting, when it happens: Your students decide that this is their class now. In a way that seems all too well-choreographed, they revolt.
You wake up in a cold sweat, relieved, but the experience leaves you plotting how you can engineer an emergency escape switch designed for this very scenario.
Classroom management is one of teaching’s biggest challenges. You have to keep a room of different minds, with different interests and learning styles on the same page and focused on a common task.
It is hard to do as it is. Now imagine that recurring nightmare again. This time though, the kids are not physically in front of you, but rather on your computer screen. Now what?!
Fear not, PAPER has put together some tips to help you manage your new online classroom, and prevent any coups!
1. Structure is key.
The more structure you have in place, the less grey area students have to wander. A simple way to do this is to have a detailed outline of what you have planned for your lesson. Breaking down learning into manageable chunks, and sharing with students ahead of time helps to set their expectations.
2. Establish classroom expectations.
Similar to having a solid structure, having a well-defined list of expectations will make sure students and teachers are on the same page. Teachers and students can collaborate on class expectations together, offering students the opportunity to take ownership of their learning and behaviour in class, and leaving little room for rebuttals when behaviour needs to be addressed.
3. Address behaviours early.
Kids will be kids, and small misbehaviours will happen. The trick is not letting them become bigger distractions. If you have already created your classroom expectations, make sure to remind students who are having difficulties with what was previously discussed and established.
4. Be available.
In a virtual classroom, it’s still important that teachers are “present” when students are working independently. This way, students know that they can check in with you, or that you could be checking in on them. This helps ensure students are staying focused and on task.
5. Engage your audience.
Teachers know that the best way to avoid disruptions is to have an interesting and interactive lesson plan. This is undoubtedly more challenging on an online forum, so it’s important that your lessons offer enough variety to keep students engaged. You will also be competing with more distractions than usual, so make sure to shorten your lessons.
Making the right tweaks to your lesson plan will go a long way in bettering your virtual classroom management.
The PAPER Team is Here to Help!
This article is the second in our weekly series for teachers that are adjusting to teaching from home.
Each week, the Teacher Engagement Team at PAPER will provide comprehensive resources and strategies to ease the transition.
Want more on classroom management? Tune into this week's remote learning webinars, Tuesday and Thursday to connect with other educators in the same boat. PAPER's teacher team will be offering tips, tricks, and a live Q&A discussion!
If you want to check out some of our past weekly webinars, you can find them on our YouTube channel.
Make sure to subscribe to the PAPER Blog to keep track of other events and resources our team is putting together for you.
Founded in 2014, Paper is an Educational Support System (ESS) providing students with 24/7 live help & essay review, and teachers with real-time feedback and intervention tools. Paper partners with districts across North America to close the achievement gap and support educational equity.