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Disruptive Students in Online Classes....What to do?

Updated: Nov 26, 2021

You asked and I am here to help! Did we think that, just because students aren't in a physical classroom, that they would behave themselves? LOL! Come on...they are pre-teens and teenagers, for the most part. (Okay, even young adult students sometimes misbehave...)

First and foremost...don't give them time to misbehave! Assuming this is a live online session (like, in Zoom), plan interactive activities to keep them busy and engaged. You can prevent disruptive students with a few key ideas. How do I do that, exactly? Here are some tips:

Calling on Students

When calling on one student, the other x number is passive. Oops! This gives them time to be disruptive. Why not give them something to do? When I call on one student to answer a question, I give the others a task. Example: "While Emily is answering my question, all other students must use the chatbox to write an alternative answer to help Emily out!" Not only does it keep them busy but it also takes the pressure off Emily!

Noisy Students

We don't need everyone talking at once. (Unless you want to...I actually have strategies to do just that!) At the start of a course, I teach students how and when to use their microphone button and when to keep it muted. One of the first things I do is practice. I usually make a game out of it. "How quickly can you turn on your microphone, say hello, and quickly mute yourself?" Training students on what to do and when can go a long way in the virtual classroom.

Break Up Lessons with Games

Let's say your class is 60 minutes long. Perhaps you review for 5 or so minutes, then teach a new concept. The average attention span of an adolescent...well, I don't need to tell you. You are living it! Why not include a quick game to get them engaged and active again? I use Kahoot for a quick 2-3 min. game. The students love the contest of it. The best's free and there are millions of games already prepared!

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