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I already have a blog post with tips for teaching hybrid and online classes. I also have multiple YouTube videos about teaching hybrid courses, including today’s new video about classroom management ideas I’m trying out in my classes (included in this post). In an earlier video, I vlogged about my Week 1 teaching experience. In another, I mentioned the best icebreaker for a synchronous hybrid course. Basically, I have a lot to say about the topic of hybrid teaching as I experience it for the first time. Let’s take a look at my classroom management strategies.
Hybrid Classroom Management Ideas
Make Sure You Can Easily See the Zoom Chat
I open the chat feature on my computer immediately after signing into Zoom. My students know this, so they know not to write anything on there that they don’t want me or their classmates to see. At times, I sign into the Zoom call on my ipad and open the chat on there instead. That way, I can see it at all times, rather than just when I have that tab open on the screen.
Having the chat up at all times helps make sure I’m seeing quick questions and comments being sent by my Zoom students. A lot of them don’t like unmuting their computers and speaking. They’d rather type out their questions or comments. Others just don’t want to interrupt me while I’m speaking, so they leave a question on the chat for me to answer the next time I glance at it. Basically, having it open at all times makes it easier to remember that students might be posting on it while I’m talking.
Use a Random Student Name Generator
When there are no volunteers ready to say something in a class discussion, what do you do? For me, I use body language and facial expressions to decide who to pick to speak. If they look like they are bursting to say something or are at least paying attention and following along, I pick them. But, I can’t do that if I can’t see my students. This hybrid situation means I can’t rely on body language and facial expressions any more. I’m often screen sharing on Zoom, and even when I’m not, most students don’t go on the webcam unless they are speaking (and sometimes, not even then).
So, I created a random name generator for free using Flippity. I show you how in this video. I told my students on Tuesday that if they are on Zoom, I’ll depend on this tool to pick students to speak when no one volunteers. That means they have to be paying close attention, in case their name is called. I’d rather use this tool than pick the students myself. I felt guilty picking random students last week, because I have no cues to work with. I didn’t want anyone to feel like I was calling them out or trying to “catch them” not paying attention.
I’ve already used the tool, and I feel much less pressure because of it.
Use Interactive Slides
By using Mentimeter or Pear Deck, I can quickly get responses from all my students (online and in person) at the same time. These answers are anonymous, which helps get students to participate more readily, as well. [I talk more about these two tools in this video.] By using interactive slides, I don’t have to constantly use the “Zoom student -> In Person student -> Zoom student” back and forth discussion design. Instead, I can get answers from everyone and build a whole class conversation off of their answers.
When Possible, Create Small Groups
Now, this only really works if the in-person students all combined can make a “small group.” If you have 11 or more students in class at the same time, I probably wouldn’t recommend this approach. But, last week I have four students in person in one of my classes. I have 18 on Zoom. So, I created two breakout rooms for my Zoom students and I was a member of the in-person group to help boost their numbers. I explained the activity, had all groups using the same Google Doc, and we did the small group activity for about 10 minutes. Then we all came together to go over the results of the activity.
It wasn’t a perfect activity by any means, but it’s the first attempt at doing small groups in a hybrid class. If you only have a few students coming to class in person, then small group activities can be possible using breakout rooms on Zoom. Here’s a video on how to create breakout rooms.
Use Debates to Get Online and In Person Students Communicating with Each Other
The hybrid design we are using means that half my students are assigned to come to class in person on Tuesday while the other half is assigned to Thursday. Since that means these students won’t meet in person in my class, how can I get them to know each other better? One approach is designing class activities that require Zoom and in-person students to work together. I haven’t focused on this type of activity yet, since the beginning of the semester involves a lot of lecture-based lessons.
But, one approach is to have students debate each other. A Zoom student versus an in-person student can help get these students more acquainted with one another. If debates don’t work in your class, you can also have in-person students use their tech to work on a Google Doc activity alongside a Zoom classmate. This is more time consuming and requires in-person students to have a smart phone or laptop/tablet, but it is another possible option to try.
Assign Collaborative Homework
How can we get students more comfortable talking in front of each other? Have them collaborate in smaller groups for homework. There are less people watching them at once, so they can feel less stressed speaking up. As they get to know their classmates, hopefully they’ll be willing to speak more in class. Since my students are almost all freshman this year, collaboration activities can also help them make friends at their new school.
Take Zoom Attendance Twice
I use the waiting room feature to prevent Zoom bombing and to make it easier for me to know exactly when someone enters the Zoom classroom. I take attendance when class starts, but there’s always a few students who get to class more than a few minutes late. For them, I let them in from the waiting room as soon as I hear the chime, but I don’t take attendance again at that moment. So, at the end of the class period, I take attendance again. I mark down the ones who arrived late, but I can also check to make sure that the others are still in class and didn’t leave early.
I believe attendance is automatically taken by Zoom when you record the class period, but I don’t record the whole class, so I can’t rely on this method.
These are just a few ideas that I’m experimenting with when it comes to hybrid classroom management. If you have your own ideas, please let me know in the comments section. And if you haven’t read or watched my other hybrid content, go ahead and click the links throughout this post! If you need more edtech or online teaching advice, here’s a full list of my related content. If you are interested in ways to increase student engagement, I have a video with 7 student engagement tips.
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Thanks for writing ways to make hybrid learning more engaging and all of the tips for the classroom management. They are all very useful Erika. I really appreciate what you have done. Keep up your great work so others can implement them to their classes.
Thank you for your kind words! I’m glad you have found my posts helpful during this difficult time.