Engaging Your Virtual Classrooms - 3 Tips For Maintaining School Structure

Best practices for maintaining classroom and school culture during virtual instruction, includes building and maintaining connections, creating collaborative spaces, and engaging the disengaged students.

Read the Article

Engaging Your Virtual Classrooms - 3 Tips For Maintaining School Structure
Read Now!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Engaging Your Virtual Classrooms - 3 Tips For Maintaining School Structure

Best practices for maintaining classroom and school culture during virtual instruction, includes building and maintaining connections, creating collaborative spaces, and engaging the disengaged students.

Virtual instruction came upon us quickly, and schools and students are still discovering how to best use this new environment.

 

Because we’re a software company that focuses on school culture, we’re in a unique position to be able to see best practices for virtual instruction, and have helped our schools adapt quickly.

 

Best practices for maintaining classroom and school culture during virtual instruction, includes building and maintaining connections, creating collaborative spaces, and engaging the disengaged students.

 

Build and Maintain Connections

At the core of a strong school culture is a strong connection between students and the school. It’s too easy to feel disconnected in a virtual environment - after all, it’s only a small screen instead of a real, physical classroom.

 

  1. Student Shout Outs/Celebrations - make sure you’re still celebrating the great behaviors you see in your classroom. You can send them a private chat, an email, or better yet, compliment them in front of the class.
  2. 1:1 Student/Teacher Check-Ins
  3. Student of the Week Awards
  1. Create a Page on School/Class Website where you can share photos and quick congrats
  1. Community Meetings
  1. Have daily or weekly meetings to discuss class goals, celebrate wins and have students talk and share with each other
  1. Set and Celebrate Goals

 

Take it to the next level: Can you design a way to track which students are getting the connections/positive interactions, so you can identify who was missed and focus on them for the coming week?

 

Create Collaborative Spaces

We need to create virtual spaces that allow for and encourage collaboration, and this means taking risks.

 

In the spring of 2020, some schools responded to student misbehavior by locking down virtual meeting features until the class was almost a webinar.

 

We need a mindset shift: Students will mess up and they will make poor choices, but that’s okay, because we will build systems to support students when they do.

 

Creating More Collaborative Spaces:

●  Use breakout rooms to allow for short peer discussions

●  Use the Interactive Features built in to your platform, like chat, respond, annotate, raise hand

●  Encourage students to demonstrate learning in different ways

●  Make a powerpoint, use flipgrid, collaborate on google docs

●  Get them In the ‘Room’

● Opening music, rewards for on-time arrival, video ‘teaser’ of the lesson, a chance to submit something graded

●  Adapt lessons to be more interesting and engaging: real world context, personal connections to content, giving an answer to ‘Why does this matter?’

●  Brain Breaks - no one listens for more than 10-15 minutes at a time

 

Preparing for the Inevitable:

●  Write expectations and share them with students and families

●  Use tools that allow for moderation

●    Padlet (requires approval), filter out profanity

●    PollEverywhere: Moderate with the paid version

●  Have a plan

●    What happens when a student messes up?

●    What protocol/steps does the teacher follow?

 

 

Engage the Disengaged

These activities may not engage every student. What about the ones who aren’t participating?

 

Look for disengagement trends in the students who are not motivated by school connections or collaborative spaces.

 

Some of the ways we used to notice and respond to these behaviors such as observing students in the room and then catching them in the hallway after class, are not options this fall.

 

Our challenge is to identify the new disengaged behaviors and catch trends. While any of these happening once or twice can be chalked up to a kid just being a kid, if we see it repeatedly, it is something worth responding to.

 

Signs of a Disengaged Student:

●  Head down in Virtual Classroom

●  No camera on in Virtual Classroom

●  Non-responsive in chat

●  Non-responsive in video chat

●  Not completing work

●  Not responding to teacher communication

 

Once you’ve connected with them and/or their family, you can re-engage them by making it fun. Kids are kids - they like being silly and having a little fun.

 

Let students...

●  Choose teacher hairstyle

●  Choose the opening song

●  Choose the meme break prompt

●  Rent a movie + Zoom with friends

●  Positive Parent Text

●  Show and Tell

●  Spirit Days

●  Dance Party!

 

Remember that this is a process, and it’s okay to change and adapt as the school year progresses. Just as with a physical school environment, keeping track of student behavior, engagement, and attendance can help your staff see macro trends and make decisions based on data - with the goal of creating a fun, collaborative learning environment for all.

 

--

DeansList Software makes it easy for schools to manage their procedures, communicate with families, and build their ideal school culture with simple entry and clear, actionable reports and insights.


See it in action

Schedule Your Demo Today
It only takes a few minutes to see how DeansList can help transform the way your school uses technology.