Virtual Classroom Management

Virtual classroom management is becoming the new teacher superpower as schools pivot to online learning environments. Luckily, the skills teachers use to manage a classroom in-person can easily translate to virtual instruction. However, there are a few additional skills to acquire that specifically will apply to successfully managing a virtual classroom. Both aspects will be discussed below.

Transferable Classroom Management Skills

Transferable classroom management skills refer to skills that teachers already have acquired that can apply (or transfer) to new environments of online learning. For example:

Virtual Classroom Management Blog

  • Pacing
    • Time Keeping- Planning how long each section of your lesson will take and then holding yourself accountable with a timer
    • Deadline Milestones- Providing mini deadlines along the way for students to track their assignment progress to increase the completion rate
    • Assignment Completion Procedures- Routinizing all procedures brings clarity and cuts down on misbehaviors
  • Operations
    • Start/End of Class Routines- Beginning and ending class the same way daily eases anxiety by creating a sense of normalcy
    • Class Norms & Expectations- Involving students in the development of the expected class culture increases student buy in and compliance
    • Clear, Thorough Directives- Giving detailed, specific directions ensure students can meet expectations without confusion that leads to misbehaviors
  • Personalization
    • Relationship Building Activities- Sprinkling in activities throughout lessons for students to connect with each other helps develop friendships and classroom camaraderie
    • Praise & Reward Systems-  Recognizing students for meeting and exceeding expectations increases the likelihood those behaviors will continue
    • Learning Styles- Presenting material in a variety of ways helps all students become successful which encourages continued participation
    • Behavior Contracts- Implementing student promise to adhering to classroom protocol ensures everyone is on the same page and can be used as a reminder when students fail to meet expectations

Virtual Classroom Management Skills

Managing a classroom virtually can add a layer of expertise that teachers might not have developed yet since virtual learning has become the norm for many school districts nationwide. Teachers can still utilize the classroom management strategies from in-person instruction, while also adding in virtual skills as well.

Below are suggested strategies to manage virtual classrooms:

  • Virtual Classroom Platform
    • Tour & Map- Providing a visual tour of the online learning platform ensures students can easily navigate their new learning environment (a printable map for reference is an added bonus)
    • Common Questions- Creating a section of commonly asked questions about the platform or expectations for the class decreases the amount of confusion and emails to the teacher
    • Announcements Banner- Placing a sticky banner on the online platform with current announcements catches students' attention and keeps them up-to-date on their classes
    • Morning Meeting- Reminding students of expectations during a routine morning meeting helps maintain a smooth running virtual classroom
    • Assignment Progress Bar/Checklist- Using a progress bar feature as students complete assignments motivates students to engage with the learning material at high levels (if not available on the learning platform, an assignment checklist can work too)
    • Moderate/Approve Communication- Having control over what content is posted in the virtual classroom ensures friendly, respectful communication occurs among students
    • Shout Out Corner- Building up student confidence by sharing out successes is a great way to build community and support
    • Student Artifacts- Using student artifacts to showcase quality work helps students visualize end goals and outputs while celebrating the hard work of their peers
  • Pre-Recorded Instruction
    • Guided Notes- Providing an outline for a lesson helps students focus while providing a roadmap for where the learning journey will go
    • Tips for Success- Sharing tips for how to successfully consume, learn and apply new learning gives students insight into how to approach a lesson
    • Demonstrations- Showcasing how to implement the learning for a lesson allows students the opportunity to meet expectations without confusion or delay
    • Call to Action- Getting students engaged with a clear, actionable next step in a lesson keeps them from passively learning and encourages interaction with peers or the platform
    • Follow Up- Managing recorded instruction by following up with students holds everyone accountable for showing up and doing the necessary work
  • Live Meetings
    • Waiting Room- Being the first person in the live meeting allows you to greet each student and keep them on task as they wait for the meeting to officially begin
    • Muting Students- Allowing only one person to speak is fairly easy with mute capabilities for the rest of the class (as long as there is a "speak next" system for how others can participate in the dialogue)
    • Lives Chats & Discussion Boards- Giving students specific directives for how to interact in the chat box or on a discussion board increases productive collaboration that adheres to the expectations
    • Breakout Rooms- Placing students in small groups to discuss content they are learning empowers them to continue learning, ask clarifying questions, and learn the leadership skill of running their own learning groups (teachers should pop in and out of these rooms to manage discussions)
    • Incentives- Providing incentives to students throughout live instruction keeps motivation and engagement high (ie. extra points on an assignment, microphone time to share, etc.)

Additional Classroom Management Resources

Want to read/listen to more posts on classroom management to fill your tool belt? Explore the resources below:




What virtual classroom management tips have you sharpened?

About the author, Gretchen

I am a teacher trainer and coach. Working elbow to elbow with teachers and teacher leaders to ensure instructional proficiency and student achievement soar lights me up. We have a real need in our nation for strong educators to remain in the field. My blog, book, podcast, courses and instructional materials are geared towards empowering teachers (and those that lead them) to receive the support needed to grow and thrive today, tomorrow and always.