Classroom management

Classroom management

  • Explicit expectations
  • Create routines
  • Use micro-scripts
  • Always be calm, friendly and enthusiastic

Our observations have been that good classroom management practices are even more important in the online classroom than the face-to-face.

Getting off to a good start with your students. Make expectations explicit, explicitly teach class routines, and prepare micro-scripts to use on students when you need to (e.g. a student turns up half an hour late but wants to be marked as present for the tute). Be respectful and enthusiastic, this can make the difference between a successful class and a not-successful class.

Be explicit about expectations for the class

  • Select just a few essential expectations. You can reasonably have up to three expectations.
  • Complying with these expectations is not negotiable in the class. For example, if they are meant to be working in groups on a problem set, that is what they should be doing. When you visit the groups, ask questions that emphasize this expectation, e.g., “which questions have you completed so far? … Show me your working for them.” (This forces them to discuss what they have actually done and leads into discussing the work) instead of “hello, how are you going?” (To which they will answer, “Fine.” End of conversation.)

Create routines

  • Explicitly teach the routines (e.g. if you are running a whiteboard tutorial and you want students to work in groups of 3 and write their names up on the board and each use a different colour pen, then for the first couple of weeks focus your attention on this above all else. Only help with the teaching and learning when they are complying with this.
  • Be completely explicit about what you expect. Don’t leave students to guess.
  • Once you have a routine that allows all the logistics to run smoothly then you end up with more time to focus on the course content.

Use micro-scripts

  • Know in advance, what you are going to say to students in various situations. For example, if a student shows up 15 minutes late, what are you going to say to them? Have a short script prepared to use. This ensures you are prepared and consistent.

Pay attention to how you come across

  • Enthusiasm is contagious. So is disengagement. It is important that you display high levels of enthusiasm for your class (even if it is just an act!).
  • Stay calm. Teaching spaces where emotional responses from the teacher are the norm can be difficult and frightening places to learn.
  • Be emotional when praising students. Be emotionless and mechanical when censuring them.
  • If possible (e.g. in tutes), greet each student by name.
  • Make your learners feel important, welcomed and appreciated right from the start and you have every chance of a successful lesson.
  • Human behaviour is reciprocating. Whatever you want from your students you need to do to them (smile, listen, show respect, etc.).