e-learning classroom management
How do you have success with e-learning classroom management? When you’re teaching one-on-one it’s fairly simple; set the tone, share expectations, make learning fun, and incorporate activities to keep the student engaged. When you have a group class there are some useful pro tips to implement:
- Mute the microphones of all the speakers so there isn’t any noise distraction
- Implement a strategy for participation. I do a rotation strategy for small group classes. For larger classes, print off a class roster and tally mark each time someone participates.
- Know your lesson materials and have a game-plan for what you’re going to teach. Google Slides and Google Docs are great tools for both sharing and interacting with students.
- Reward students and use props/visuals to not only engage, but also increase student understanding
Just like brick and mortar teaching, if you’re prepared and you use best practices for teaching and engagement, you will succeed. Best practices include connecting with students, modeling, gradual release of responsibility, mini lessons, guided practice, and independent practice. But how does this differ when you’re online?
Online learning vs classroom learning
The main difference between online learning vs classroom learning is physical proximity. We can’t point to something on a student’s paper. You can’t squat down to a student’s level to discipline. There’s no way to do a handshake, but you can definitely be inventive and do virtual high-fives.
Even though there are some physical restrictions, online teaching is effective, fun, and flexible. With online learning, students can watch a recorded version of your lesson. You can use a virtual whiteboard that both you and your students can access. I venture to say that you can do all of the same activities and instruction that you do in a brick and mortar classroom while teaching online.
While there might be some technical difficulties once in awhile with your camera or internet connection, it’s nothing that holds you back long-term. Speaking of internet connection, make sure you get the mid to highest MBP plan your provider offers. Test your speed at speedtest.net. I like to have at least a 20 MBP for my download speed and at least 15 MBP for my upload speed. When it starts to drop below that I tend to have connection problems.
So what are your options for an e-learning platform? Most people use the following:
- Google Hangouts
I prefer Zoom because the whiteboard and screen sharing are the best compared to Google and Skype. Zoom was created with businesses in mind while Google and Skype were created more for people to socialize via video/voice call or instant message.
If you’re an online ESL teacher you can choose different companies to apply to and see which teaching platform you like best. I prefer iTutorGroup because they have the best tools for a virtual whiteboard. You can type on the screen, highlight, use a pointer tool, upload photos, and they also have an in-house photo bank to add pictures into the lesson.
e-learning resources for teachers
The best e-learning resources for teachers are Google Slides, Google Docs, having a photo bank, props to show students on camera, rewards, having a cute teacher background, and materials from Teachers Pay Teachers.
classroom management plan
Now that we’ve discussed the basics of e-learning, let’s talk about having a classroom management plan. The best classroom management plans incorporate class procedures and expectations. When students are occupied with learning and they know the class procedures, they will stay engaged. If they don’t know what you expect and how to interact you’ll be on your way to behavior problems.
Procedures let your students know what to do and when to do it. With clear procedures, students understand how to navigate your class. What are some good online classroom procedures?
- Have an Agenda
- Use consistent warm-up and wrap-up activities
- Share expectations for participation (how long to speak, raising hands, etc.)
- Implement consistent routines for lessons/units
- Set expectations for using the bathroom during online class
- Make parents aware of what an ideal learning space would be to avoid distractions
Having procedures in place allows your lesson to run smoothly and it keeps the students focused and on task, which means minimal behavior problems.
Classroom management Scenarios
There are so many classroom management scenarios whether we’re talking about brick and mortar or e-learning classroom management. Let’s take a look at a few scenarios and ideas for responding to each of them.
Let’s say a student is reluctant to participate. If you’re an online ESL teacher who serves students from China, this might be something you encounter often. In this situation I try two different techniques. First, I let the student know how much I want them to speak and I show them exactly what I want them to do with an example answer.
At this school we want the students to speak more than the teacher. So, when I ask you a question such as, “Do you like basketball?” I want you to give a detailed answer. You can say something like: I like basketball because it’s fun and I get to play with my friends. I’ve been playing basketball since I was ______ years old.
Online ESL schools from China such as VIPKID and Gogokid want the students to speak more than the teacher, even if they are beginners. In the scenario above I am working with a student that speaks enough English to understand what I said.
Rude or Cold Attitude
Whenever a student is rude or cold I put the problem back on them instead of taking it personally. How? I say, “Are you okay? You seem upset.” Then if nothing changes I say, “Do you not like English class? It seems like you don’t want to be here.” By putting it back on them they become aware of how they are acting and perk up a bit during the lesson. Nine times out of ten they participate more and become more friendly.
Be sure to attempt to connect with the student despite their attitude so they know you are interested in them, too. Ask them what they like to do and what their interests are. If they say anything at all about their interests respond with, “Oh, I love that, too!” Then try to talk about it for a minute.
Hyperactive or Distracted
When you have hyperactive or distracted students you feel like you can’t get your job done, which leads to frustration. Do not get frustrated, or at least don’t show it. Go with the flow. Let the student play with his/her toys and then lead them back to the lesson. For young kids, be inventive and say, “It’s time to learn like a soldier. Ready?! Learning starts now!” That will give them the perspective of being disciplined.
When they get distracted again say, “Oh, where did solider Johnny go? Soldier Johnny, did you lose your soldier cap? Oh no! It’s time to put it back on for learning. Ready? Learning starts now!” They need reminders and routine. Like it or not, as teachers we get all personality types and teach students with all different behaviors. It’s part of our job to navigate those personalities and behaviors.
Another scenarios is if their camera is off and you sense that something is wrong. Say, “What are you doing?” The student will deny that they are not paying attention, but they will now know you are no fool. Then you can add, “We are in English class now. Tell me when you’re ready to learn.” Giving the student the power to dictate whether they’re ready to learn or not is important. It diminishes the power struggle and allows them to choose their education rather than a distraction. Wait silently until they are ready. You can even turn your camera off. I’ve never had a student not say, “Hello?” When they say, “hello,” I respond with, “Hello, I’m glad you’re ready to learn now.”
Inappropriate behavior or language
If a student is inappropriate it needs to be addressed whether it’s having a discussion with the student, telling IT (if that’s an option), or discussing it with parents. For me the most inappropriate thing a student did was go to the bathroom while we were in class. He had his camera off, but I could hear what he was doing. This was something I asked him not to do several times. Being that he was older and spoke English well enough to understand me I know he was doing it to cause problems. In this situation, I spoke with the student first, I left notes for the parents, and when nothing worked I asked IT to switch me out of the class. I started not to schedule the time I had a class with him since the behavior didn’t change. I know not everyone has those options, but do whatever it takes not to tolerate inappropriate behavior.
student engagement Strategies
A major part of e-learning classroom management is using student engagement strategies. When you play the right games and do the right activities, it keeps the student so engaged that they don’t have any behavior problems. I’ve found that students really enjoy guessing games and matching games such as the memory game. Being that activities and games are so vast, focus on trying one new game/activity at a time and then add another. Build up a list of 5 and then a list of 10.
Some of my favorite games/activities include:
- Covering up important words or phrases and seeing if the student can recall them
- Pictionary – Drawing a vocabulary word and seeing if the student can guess it
- Describe a vocabulary word without giving away the answer too easily and see if the student can guess it
- Write a long word on the whiteboard and see how many other words can be made with the letters from the original word
- Write two lists of the same vocabulary. One list can be in alphabetical order and the other list can be mixed up. Cover all the words with rectangles and play memory. The memory game is when you uncover one word from side A and another word from side B. Once you get a match you get a point. The winner has the most points/matches by the end of the game.
- Thought provoking questions related to a reading (great for advanced students)
- Free talk with topics that students enjoy
Don’t feel like you have to leave games and activities for the end of the lesson. Incorporate them throughout the lesson. Once a student has learned 3 new words do some charades to see if they can recall the new words. It’s a great way to help them retain the new vocabulary.
Props and Materials for Teaching Online
Another way to ensure good e-learning classroom management is through incorporating props and materials for teaching online. Shy kids love to use stuffed animals as a safety net for reading. Allow them to pretend play and have their stuffed animal read or answer questions for them. You can do the same by using a puppet or stuffed animal to teach or be your assistant.
A physical whiteboard is a necessity because you can draw pictures or teach grammar or phonics using it. I love my whiteboard for manipulating magnetic letters when teaching phonics.
Use rewards! When your student does well give him/her a special reward that hangs in the background. Also, try to have a kid-friendly background. A great option is to hang a cute map. My favorite is from the Nancy Taylor Shop.
When you have the right tools and responses for e-learning classroom management, you will be successful. One final tip I want you to walk away with is not to be too hard on yourself. If you’ve implemented several ideas from this post in one lesson and nothing is working remind yourself that you tried your hardest. Behavior doesn’t change in a 25 minute class or a 45 minute class. It takes time for a person to mature, learn and grow. You cannot force growth, but you can teach positive behavior and what that looks like. Keep trying your best and don’t give up!