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Laptop covered in post-it notes
Laptop covered in post-it notes

Involving students

At the start of each school year, when you meet your new classes, you begin by establishing clear routines and expectations of behaviour, so that students can work together in a positive and safe environment. Without getting these in place, teaching and learning are impossible.

Although by this point in the year you will have established a positive classroom environment, where students feel comfortable in class discussing their work with peers, working in groups, or taking part in class discussion, it cannot be assumed that this will translate into this new, possibly online, environment. When communicating electronically, often there will be delays in responses, written words can generate ambiguity, and the non-verbal clues (such as a look of confusion or a smile) which we rely on in face to face discussion are missing, making it easier for misunderstandings.

Establishing online behaviours

Asking students to come up with a list of what types of behaviours would make them feel comfortable engaging with peers and sharing ideas will give students ownership of the new ways of working, as well as more incentive to abide by their own guidelines. You could do this your school or college learning platform or on a shared Google Doc (Tucker, 2020). You could then add some ideas in yourself, so that any concerns you have are included. You may also have to change some of your own expectations. For example, a student adding emojis to their contributions to collaborative tasks may just be indicating to others that they are not meaning any offence. Compiling their own rules will help students to be more aware of some of the pitfalls and consequences of their actions, and you could also ask for suggestions of consequences if the guidelines are broken.


Have you involved students in developing guidelines for behaviour previously? How would you adapt this process for your current teaching circumstances?

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This article is from the free online course:

Teaching for Home Learning: Secondary Science

National STEM Learning Centre