Managing Student Behavior in a Distance-Learning/Virtual Classroom – Really Good Teachers™ Blog and Forum | A Really Good Stuff® Community


Like all student behavior management systems, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, especially with distance learning and virtual teaching. This is where us teachers need to get creative and use what we already know!

Some children are driven by prizes, while other kids love affirmations … whatever type of behavior management system you choose for distance learning, here are some things to consider!

1. Set up goals and rules, just like in the classroom

Similar to an in-school setting, set up goals for behavior and rules while teaching online. Unless you are very specific about appropriate behaviors, children won’t know how to act accordingly … even if we assume they might.

2. Give students a break!

Distance learning, a global pandemic, and other events going on right now aren’t easy on adults – and they definitely aren’t easy on kids! Some children will better deal with all of the stress and emotions, and some won’t. Though I love fluid behavior systems where children can move in and out throughout the day, this may be the perfect time to .

Instead of correcting or discussing a negative behavior, find a child who is acting as an example! For instance, if child #3 is fooling around on the screen, find a couple of others who aren’t, and point that out! “I love the way that (child #7) and (child #18) are sitting nicely while we are working on this math problem.” This has a three-fold effect:

3. Use what works for you!

Not all behavior management systems work for all students, teachers, and situations. Do what has worked for you in the past, with the knowledge that it may or may not need to be adjusted while teaching virtually. If behavior charts with stickers works for you and your students, continue that during distance learning. Tape the charts to a large poster board, and point out when you are adding a sticker to a student’s chart.

4. If rewards and prizes work for you, keep it going!

The main thing to remember is that prizes and rewards do not have to be physical! Think about those special days that you would have in your class, like stuffed animal day or pajama day, and continue using those as rewards! The kids will still see each other online! And hey, who doesn’t love a homework pass?!

5. Mail postcards!

There’s nothing more exciting for your students than receiving a postcard from you with words of praise and encouragement! It’s a very inexpensive way to make a connection with children in your class. So, stock up on stamps and postcards!

Overall, we must prepare and adjust (just like every other aspect of teaching during a pandemic) our norms and routines by looking at them through a different lens, and using what works for each individual teacher and student!

For more ideas and products to help you manage student behavior, click here.

By Angela French


Angela French is the Senior Product Development and Content Manager at Really Good Stuff. She has worked for the company for nearly seven years and has created hundreds of resources for the classroom. She has a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. Her classroom experiences include teaching grade levels K–5 and inclusion, special education, literacy intervention, and gifted and talented programs in three different states.

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