Classroom Management Strategies for Teaching English OnlineBy Krzl Light Nuñes
June 11, 2021
Are you struggling when teaching your online English lessons because of a misbehaving or distracted student? Whether you’re teaching kids or adults, at some point, you’re going to run into situations that call for managing the classroom. So, how can you rise above these challenges and run your class like a pro? Let us help you with tips for effective classroom management for teaching online.
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What are the challenges of online classroom management?
When you teach English online, part of your class’ success relies on how productive and well-managed your learning environment is. Given the unique setup of a virtual classroom, however, you may face challenges that are unique to this setting.
While these issues and challenging online student types may keep you from running your virtual classes smoothly, it’s not impossible to overcome these challenges as long as you’re prepared and you’ve got the right online TEFL/TESOL classroom management strategies in hand.
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How do you deal with misbehaving students online?
Students using mobile phones during class time, lack of concentration, disrespect, and other sorts of misbehavior can all disrupt your lesson and put off the rest of the class. Nevertheless, you can deal with misbehaving students by applying the following tips for classroom management when teaching online.
1. Set clear rules and expectations
As you start your online English class, make sure to:
2. Address issues right away
If a student starts holding side conversations during class, don’t wait until he gets comfortable doing this in the next lessons. Instead, advise the student to mute his or her microphone if he or she has to talk to someone else outside of the online classroom.
It’s crucial to deal with misbehavior or disciplinary issues immediately, whether it’s a simple but frequent distraction or something offensive like using foul language.
3. Talk to students in private
Instead of calling out a misbehaving student in front of the class, opt to correct or discipline him or her through a one-on-one conversation. Also, make sure to speak with the student in a formal but positive tone.
However, if the misbehavior is beyond your ability to fix, it’s best to notify the parents or the school administration and let them handle the situation.
4. Be a role model
Finally, implementing rules and promoting good behavior becomes easier if you lead by example. When students observe your positive attitude, respect for others, and professionalism, they will most likely follow your example and strive to create a better learning atmosphere for everyone.
What are some strategies for managing an online classroom?
Depending on the type and age group of the students you teach, the way you manage your virtual classes may differ. Here are some strategies for running online English classes with children and adults smoothly.
Teaching groups or pairs of young learners online
1. Put distractions away
Before your lesson, check that your learners have put away their phones, toys, and anything that can divert their attention or create background noise later on. Also, make sure that they’ve closed apps and webpages unrelated to the class — you wouldn’t want them to suddenly play their Roblox game while you’re speaking!
2. Establish habits and routines
Aside from ensuring a distraction-free class right from the start, train your young learners to prepare themselves for the lesson. See to it that they are dressed up properly (no pajamas, please!) and that they’re ready with their notebooks and materials for the class. This way, they won’t have to run around their house later on and potentially get distracted by things around them, like pets and other people.
Additionally, your class can run more smoothly by incorporating routines. When students already know what time they should arrive to class, what activities to expect in the first minutes, and how to access online books and homework, the flow of your class will be predictable and your students will have more time to do productive tasks.
3. Incentivize and reward
From stars to cute stickers to virtual tours, you can always get your young learners’ excitement up and keep them from getting bored by using incentives and rewards. These will also engage them more in your activities and get them to be more focused on achieving their goals.
4. Engage students through gamification
Kids may tend to look for other things to do or wander off your lesson topic once their attention span has reached its limit. There’s no better way to prevent this than through games and interactive activities. Whether it’s an online Snakes and Ladders game or a fun competition between groups, you can always steer them away from boredom and even make quiet students participate more by incorporating a few games.
5. Make use of Total Physical Response (TPR)
Sitting still in front of the screen for half an hour may not work for some students, who could become bored and restless during your class. When these issues arise, you can always re-energize students by using TPR. You can introduce miming games, for instance, or warm up the class using a song with a lot of movement verbs.
6. Use teaching platform features
Nowadays, video conference platforms have a lot of practical features that you can use to make your online English classes more dynamic yet organized. Here are some ideas:
By using these digital tools to your advantage, young learners can focus more on what’s going on onscreen than on their surroundings.
7. Control disruptions
It may be inevitable to hear noises from your students’ end or for someone in the class to take over the group by talking too much. If these distractions arise and it’s difficult to communicate with the distracting learner, you can manage them by muting their microphone and then, if necessary, sending him or her a quick message about the disruption.
8. Build relationships
A huge part of classroom management for teaching English online is creating rapport with your learners. If you and your students connect, interact, and understand each other in a positive way, they will not only feel motivated to take part in your class but will also strive to behave well.
Teaching groups or pairs of adults online
Although most of the tips above may also apply to managing older students, there are challenges specific to classes with adults that you may need to handle. Let’s look at the best strategies to manage these issues.
1. Maintain your authority in the classroom
As a teacher to adults, you may get students who are your age or older than you. This doesn’t mean, however, that you can just let them answer their work calls or come to class whenever they want. Remember that, as a teacher, you are still in charge of running the class. As long as you treat students with respect and keep the atmosphere positive, you have all the power to let them know if they’re affecting the quality of the class.
2. Make sure everyone is heard
Adult learners can usually discuss and provide insights on a wider variety of topics. Though this is a positive thing, there may be adult learners who like to speak a lot in a group class, giving less time for their classmates to share or answer questions.
3. Manage debates and discussions carefully
Asking a group class for their thoughts on certain topics encourages them to participate more in class, but you wouldn’t want a discussion to heat up once their opinions start to clash! As an English teacher, you’re also in charge of facilitating your students’ conversations.
Various issues may arise during an online ESL class, regardless of the type of English learners you have. However, by applying the virtual classroom management strategies above, there’s no doubt that you can handle any kind of student behavior with confidence and carry on with your lessons with minimal problems.