• Kristen Disney

Distance Learning - Zoom Room Classroom Management




Distance Learning is a new way of life for many students and educators.


I have been teaching online for a little over 4 years. Learning how to manage my online classroom has helped me eliminate distractions and ensure that learning is fun and engaging for everyone.


While teaching online, you will notice that students gravitate to the group chat box. And if you are anything like me, you’ve tried ignoring the chat box so that you can focus on presenting your lesson. Unfortunately, comments such as “I’m hungry!” lead to distracting discussions about favorite foods and lunch plans. Unfortunately, these unnecessary chats can sometimes lead to bullying. Chat room management can make my head spin! Thankfully, Zoom has options that will keep students from blurting out comments and from passing private chats to one another.


Clicking More in the chat app will give you the option to allow attendees to chat with: Host Only.



This is my favorite chat box setting. No more large group distractions and no more private chats. Students are only allowed to send me chats with questions that they may have while I am presenting and I’m able to ignore them until I get to a stopping point. This is perfect for the student that isn’t comfortable asking questions in front of the class. It also works for quick checks of understanding. By simply requesting that students message you the answer to a question, you can see who is on track and who needs to hear the content in a different way. Chats to the Host Only keep students' responses private.


Did you know that you can use your extra monitor to display the chat box while you are sharing a lesson on your computer? You sure can! I will often share a presentation on my computer while displaying the chat box, participant menu, and video displays on my extra monitor. Once the chat box is open, drag it to your extra monitor. The picture below shows my presentation on the right (main computer screen) and my classroom controls on the left (extra monitor).



Other management tips:

Require that everyone use their “real” first name for their display name. You can change their name for them by clicking the three dots on their camera display.


Turn off student cameras for bouncing or obnoxious students. The same three dots will give you the option to stop their camera.


By clicking Participants, you can Mute All Microphones, at once, if you cannot figure out who’s mom has decided to vacuum during your presentation. Make sure to uncheck the pop-up box indicating that you do not want participants to be allowed to unmute themselves. This will require them to raise their virtual Zoom hand if they want to add to the discussion.


Don’t leave students unattended at the beginning or end of class. While this sounds like a fun social time for students, I have witnessed some kids getting pretty rowdy and rude when a teacher isn’t present.


Here is a 3-minute video showing you all my Zoom Room Management tips.




What tips do you have for managing a virtual classroom?


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