Setting Behavior Expectations in the Virtual Environment

Bad Grade. Sad Black Girl At Laptop Covering Head With Exercise-Book During Online Class At Home.

What student behavior looked, sounded, and felt like took a unique turn with virtual learning. When students can turn their cameras off and fully hide their engagement, how can you ensure every student maximizes their potential? Follow these four strategies to help you maintain the same level of participation with your students virtually that they would exhibit in person.

1. Remind Students of the Rules

Be clear with your students that you expect them to follow the classroom’s rules—and then build them together to earn shared buy-in. For example, you may suggest that their cameras be on with speakers muted unless called on to share or while working in a group breakout session. Ensure students know that they must continue to show one another the same respect virtually that they show in person. That means being attentive and patient when a peer speaks, using “indoor voices,” and practicing active listening skills.

2. Encourage a Comfortable At-Home Learning Environment

Encourage students to structure their home learning environment in a way that best suits their style of learning. For some students, this may mean learning in a private, quiet space with few distractions. For other students, it may mean learning in the comfort of their living room where they know their parents are working nearby. Collaborate with parents so that they can help create at-home spaces that make their children feel safe, structured, and ready to learn.

3. Create a Routine that Includes Scheduled Breaks

Young people will be able to maximize their academic performance if they are provided with structure. Students who struggle to stay engaged and focused learning in front of a screen may become more easily distracted, causing them to be undisciplined. Give students set expectations for when they need to focus and when they can be creative and social. Structure your students’ days with set times for lecture, group work, free time, and independent work.

4. Request Active Participation

Just as you would in your classroom, encourage students to participate in virtual discussions and activities to keep them engaged and tuned into learning objectives. Encourage all students to participate in lectures, calling on those who may be quieter than others to ensure they can contribute equitably. Structure days so that students can experience a mix of large and small group work. Some students may be more comfortable speaking up, asking questions, and sharing ideas in small groups or pairs, further facilitating their active engagement throughout the day.

Virtual learning has offered many benefits to teachers and students and allows for an exciting evolution in the traditional academic model. If you can overcome the most common behavior challenges and keep your students engaged and attentive, you can take advantage of all the creative learning opportunities that virtual classrooms have to offer.

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