Online Classroom Management Tips

Greetings my Teacher Friends! I hope all is well with you and yours. I'm Teacher Stephanie, writing all about the online teacher biz with my good friend Nancy Taylor. Today I am so excited to talk to you all about classroom management strategies that you can use in your classroom. Ready or not, here we go!


Miss Nancy covers these strategies with full examples in this video. Click the picture to see how she uses these management strategies in her classroom.

VIPKID Management in Class (Online Teaching Tips) - Youtube


In this post we are going to cover 6 different types of student behavior that you encounter with online teaching and then cover 3 strategies to correct each type of behavior. This will be sure to get those kiddos back on track with the lesson and loving your class. Also, I have included 4 bonus management tricks that you can use for any student behavior management at the end. You are welcome in advance ;)



Distracted David

David has a lot going on around him. He has the tv on full blast, a toy in each hand, family coming in and out of the screen and some dessert to snack on while he learns. This guy is super distracted! How in the world can you get his attention. Try these three tips:

  1. Use the distraction in the lesson. Go to 2.22 in the video to watch Nancy use the toy to teach the letter P. This is a great example of using their distraction to get back on track. Keeping those hands busy with the toy helps redirect without scolding or getting mad at the student.
  2. Get rid of the distraction. If the toy is too much of a distraction,  Show them that you need them to put it away. Model this for them so that they know what you want. Then when you see the behavior you want, give them a reward. Stars all around!
  3. Engage them with a puppet, camera filter, or one of your toys. My students love to see Dino and talk with him in the lesson (at least for a little bit). They also enjoy the AR stickers or filters on the screen. If I need them to pay attention, I will say "Watch" and add a filter to our faces. They usually can't take their eyes off of their doggy-eared self. Works like a charm!

Confused Cassy

Cassy just turned 4 and hasn't had a lot of experience with online learning. She will often stare blankly into the screen after a question or start parroting back each and every phrase. She is willing to participate but does not understand the concepts very well. How can we help Cassy comprehend the words she is saying?

  1. TPR! There is a whole post dedicated to this ESL teaching strategy. You will learn what it is, why we use it and how to use it in the classroom. Check it out!
  2. Pictures and Props. Pulling up pictures on your phone or having a few 3D props (like play food) can really help the student start to see what you mean when you speak. So you like a minimal classroom? No, problem! Just use a whiteboard to draw whatever you are talking about. The students love when I do this since I am not a particularly talented artist. At least I am good for a laugh!
  3. Simplify. Don't use incidental language. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)! For example, when teaching the color red:

Do: "Red" Pointing to something red. "This is red" Point to something else red "Red"

Don't: "This teddy bear is red. His hat is blue but his fur is red. Can you see something red in your house?" 

Advanced Arthur

Arthur has bilingual parents who have spoken English and Cantanise to him since birth. He is one smart cookie! He has been in English classes for 2 years now and loves to talk with his teachers. And boy, does he has a story to go with everything! What's that? Broccoli? One time, Arther saw a piece of broccoli on the subway and his grandma..... (25 minutes goes by).... and they never went to the zoo again! Yikes class is over and you are on slide 2! Eeek! What can you do to keep Arthur focused on the lesson?

  1. Utilize a timer. I pull up one on my phone and show them on the screen. This stops them dead in their tracks. Then I point to the lesson and circle whatever I want them to read. "Ready, Set, Go" And they are off! These students are typically good readers and speakers so timing them is a great way to keep their interest and focus in class. 
  2. Make a game. Nancy's students love "Beat the teacher" as she explains in the video. My kiddos love to play "Find a Star" with content from their lesson. You can even do a quick race to write the vocabulary word on the lesson screen. Make it fun and engaging for these smarty pants!
  3. Let them speak! Say what? This is going to be facilitated by you and guided toward the lesson. Lesson on reptiles? Show a picture of a snake. Ask them if they have seen a snake or if they like snakes. Find an interest and keep the questions tailored to the lesson to avoid getting off track.

Tired Tammy

Tammy has had a long day of school, homework, basketball practice, and violin lessons. She just got home to eat dinner and has an English lesson before bed. When you see her on the screen, her voice is slow and heavy. Her eyelids can barely stay open. How do we stop the yawns and give Tammy a little more pep for this lesson?

  1. Energizer break! When I was a brick-and-morter teacher I called these Brain Boosters. It's all about getting the kids moving to give them a boost in energy. Stand up, Sit down, stretch your arms, jumping jacks, Yoga, Simon Says, dance party. You get the picture? Get those little bodies moving!
  2. Play charades. Have the student use TPR to demonstrate their knowledge. "Show me 'swim'". Play a game of guess the animal with actions. This will wake them right up!
  3. Scavenger Hunt. Can your student find something blue? Something that starts with G? Getting them up out of their seat will boost their energy levels and help with comprehension of instruction. Also, the students love sharing their world with you. Give them opportunities to share their world! 

Shy Shawn

Shawn is a little bit nervous about seeing a big person, from another country, speaking a different language on the screen (you). He feels scared of this strange person and doesn't want to say the wrong thing. He hates the feeling of direct attention from a one-on-one class and often keeps parts or all of his face out of view on the camera. How can we help Shawn come out of his shell?

  1. Wait Time. This is huge! Did anyone else here Trump's voice when you read that? Sorry! Anyway,  make sure to allow adequate wait time before you start speaking again for the student. I great way to hold yourself back is to count to 5 slowly in your head. Think about the internet lag, student's processing time, and then their brain's translating the words back to you in their second language. All of this takes time, especially for the shy guys!
  2. Be silly. I have a student named Beta who is super serious and hates the attention. If I can take it off of him and onto myself, he opens right up. I'll add a funny hat or do some slap stick comedy like falling down or hitting my self with a stick. Maybe that's why I'm so sore after class?  Being silly makes the student feel less self conscious.
  3. Allow them to share their talents. Do you play the piano? I like soccer, do you like soccer? Can you draw a cat? Let them show you what they are good at to build their self esteem and trust in your relationship. 

Moving Mia

Mia is bursting with energy and just can't sit still for a whole 25 minutes. The 5 little monkeys on the bed have nothing on this girl! She can spin, and jump and run so fast. She just has to show her favorite teacher all of the things her little body is capable of, especially when she is feeling so excited! What are we going to do to get Mia back in front of the lesson screen and paying attention to the teacher's instructions?

  1. Ask to see her eyes. Get REAL close to your camera and show your eyes and ask to see hers. I like to say "My eyes are brown. What color are your eyes?" They love getting super close to the camera. Beware this can lead to a full shot of the inside of their nose or mouth. Yuck! But, hey, it gets them back in front of the lesson.
  2. Let them show you something. "Wow Mia! Can you make an L with your arms? Where are your cheeks?" 
  3. Ask them to sit. Time for bad cop, when all other tactics have failed. Be direct but friendly and ask them to sit. As soon as you see that behavior - BOOM - give them a star. Teach them that following directions in your classroom has a good consequence. 

BONUS Management Tips for Every Student:

I have used these in my classroom for years now and they always help to reel my students back in and engage in the lesson. 

  1. Move around the screen. Sometimes I will poke my head in sideways to create a floating face on the camera. Or I will get really close or far away. I will roll my chair across the screen as a I say a vocabulary word fast. Anything to pull their attention to the lesson
  2. Use voice and volume. Say it loud, soft, fast, slow, high, low, silly, singing, whispers, etc. Use your voice to have them parrot words in a fun new way. WARNING - don't compromise careful pronunciation here. We still want them to say the words correctly. 
  3. Get their hands busy. Show them some sign language with their fingers. Circle on the screen or have them hold a stuffed animal that answers your questions. I even had a student playing with play dough during a lesson. This could've easily been a distraction but for her it kept her seated and engaged in the lesson while her hands were busy. Fidget Spinners anyone?

And that's a wrap. I hope that you enjoyed these classroom management strategies and I'd love to hear what worked for you.  

See you later alligators!

---Teacher Stephanie

(@teachingstephanie on Instagram)


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