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Setting Online Classroom Agreements

For Zoom and Google Meet

I have spent every morning for the past six weeks observing circle time in a different (online) classroom. That means I’ve visited about 30 different classrooms with 30 different teachers and about 500 students. I don’t claim to be an expert, and at the same time, I’ve learned so much about digital classroom management. This blog post outlines some suggestions and recommendations based on my experience sitting in on roughly 30 different Morning Meetings.

What ideas do you have? What tips and tricks have worked for you? I’d love your input. You know what works for your classrooms far better than I do. Email me at myedtechclassroom@gmail.com

Now that we are teaching and learning remotely, Morning Meeting looks a little different, but it is still incredibly valuable for maintaining community and routine in your online classrooms. In fact, I’d argue that it is even more important now than ever before.

Digital spaces online, however, are not socially neutral. We cannot forget that social injustices exist online too, which means that equity needs to be the top priority of remote learning. For this reason, I’d suggest making Morning Meeting optional, but I also understand that your school districts and administrators might have differing opinions.

Establishing Morning Meeting Agreements

If you haven’t established agreements or rules for online Morning Meetings, now is the time to start. Morning Meeting Agreements are critical to digital classroom management. I’ve put together a list of six Morning Meeting Rules that all classrooms should follow.

1. Video call from a productive space

I’ve seen my fair share of beds, pajamas, TV screens, and more during online Morning Meeting. If your students are anything like the little ones I’ve been around, they are squirmier than ever. A helpful classroom management tip is to make an agreement or rule that all students must video call from a productive space.

You can provide students with several examples of what a productive space looks like. For example, a productive space might be a desk, table, couch, or chair. If I notice that one of my students is not participating in the call from a productive space, I remind everyone of this norm without calling anyone out.

2. Be prepared and ready for the meeting

What does being prepared and ready sound like? What does it look like? What does it feel like? These are questions I ask my students when we establish these agreements. Being prepared and ready might vary from classroom to classroom, and it’s important to set clear and regular expectations for kids.

3. Be on time

In order to give kids predictability and routine, they also need a schedule to follow. Encouraging (and requiring) students to be on time helps jumpstart their day of online learning, just like being on time to school. At the same time, remember to have realistic expectations, as well as be flexible and mindful of various home situations.

4. Turn on your video

If students are able, asking them to turn on their video allows them to connect with you and their classmates face-to-face. Not only is this agreement essential for community, it is also critical to ensure student safety. With issues like Zoombombing and hacking on the rise in digital classrooms, having all participants “on camera” allows you to know exactly who is in your room at all times.

5. Mute yourself

Students also should remain on mute unless called to speak. Most teachers have discovered the wonders of the mute button by now, but it is a good idea to remind students why teachers use it.

I usually allow my students to speak freely for the first 5 minutes of Morning Meeting. They can chat and greet each other to start our meeting. Then, when it’s time to move on, I’ll mute everyone.

6. Raise your hand to speak

Developing a hand raising system gives students an opportunity to share their voice. Whether you choose a thumbs up, a hand raise, or some other gesture, I’d recommend using a system to call on students.

Students can either physically raise their hand, or Zoom offers a hand raise button that students can press to get the host’s attention. I found a Google Chrome extension that you can use for Google Meet. I have never used it before, so read some reviews before you download.

While these six agreements have worked really well in the classrooms I’ve visited, at the end of the day, you know your students and your classroom the best. Do what works for you and your classroom needs. If you do like these agreements, I created a free resource you are welcome to use with your students. You can check it out in my TpT store, or more directly, by using this link.

If you are interested in learning more about conducting Morning Meeting remotely, Responsive Classroom has some wonderful resources. You can check them out here and here.

I’d love to hear from you. What works well for your classroom? What doesn’t?

Email me at myedtechclassroom@gmail.com to chat! I’d love to be friends and learn together.

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