78 percent of U.S. high schools report at least one serious disciplinary action daily or weekly (NCES, 2018). Middle schools report 61 percent, and elementary schools report 18 percent.
Socially and emotionally lagging skills are creating acting out student behaviors in our classrooms, and these behaviors do not go away despite a change in the learning environment.
While COVID-19 has relocated our traditional classrooms to computer screens, it has not changed student behavior. Teachers have always been masters at content and classroom management, and our relocation has not changed this either. But what it has changed are the methodologies that we use to be masterful at what we do!
Online classroom management should focus on the positive, promote expected norms, AND allow teachers to easily track the data!
Classroom behavior management strategies need to be
-quick reinforcers that promote expected behaviors, deter unexpected behaviors, and do NOT interrupt learning.
Classroom behavior management strategies should have a goal to
All we have to do is apply those same principles to our new way of teaching!
So here are 3 Steps to Positive Behavior Management for Distance Learning:
Don’t throw out your good teaching practices!
Open your online classroom just as you would your traditional classroom. Establish 3 to 5 norms for your online classroom. Use positive student-friendly language and pair each norm with a visual to support ALL learners.
You can grab some Student AND Parent Virtual Classroom Meeting Expectations HERE!
EXPLICITLY teach these norms to your students before expecting them to demonstrate them. Read books about them, have them watch short clips, role play, model, AND continue to reinforce those expected norms!
For the majority of students, the game may be enough of a reinforcer (we will talk more about the game in a moment). However, for other students, you may need to come up with some earns…
-virtual lunch with the teacher
-class meeting ends 5 minutes early
-virtual field trips
-get out of one assignment free card
Resistant students, with more lagging social and emotional skills, benefit from time with the teacher, establishing these reinforcers with the student ahead of time to be able to determine the greatest motivator. Remember - the greatest motivator will increase a drive to demonstrate the expected behaviors.
Use Google Forms to play a positive behavior game.
Here is a quick tutorial on How to Make a Google Form for Student Behavior:
With a small group or a whole class, your positive behavior game can be played as a student versus teachers game. Students get a point when they are on-task, following classroom or school norms, etc. The teacher gets a point when students are off-task. Whoever has the most points at the end of the day wins.
When working one-on-one with a student, the game can be played in the same manner or you can establish a goal with a student ahead of time. Each time the student demonstrates the goal, the student earns a point.
Teachers can also use these forms (or points) as behavior data tracking tools. You can record the points while students are participating in Google Meets with the general education classes as well!
Here is How to Give and Track Student Behavior Using Google Forms:
And don’t forget to explain why the points were earned to the student! This can be quick (“Zoe, nice job demonstrating your goal of following directions the first time. You earned a point for that.) The why and the emotion connected becomes internalized when we explicitly reinforce expected behaviors. The intrinsic feeling attached to the earn (i.e. praise or a point) internalizes a motivation to continually strive to have that feeling again, and it quickly becomes learned that the demonstration of an expected behavior provides those good internal feelings!
Because the student is always earning in this game (not losing anything), it eliminates the power struggle. If the teacher earns a point, no big deal because students can quickly make a change to have a chance to win!
However, you should still discuss and reflect upon what was learned in this game!
To learn more, check out this video on I apply these tips in my online classroom:
With these 3 steps, online classroom management focuses on the positive, promotes expected norms, AND allows you to easily track the data!
Happy and Healthy Teaching,