In the classroom, routines support student learning and build efficiency. The same is true with online and distance learning.

At a time when students — and parents — may be feeling a little anxious, overwhelmed, or uncertain about the new school year, classroom routines can provide a sense of structure, stability, and control. Classroom routines let students and parents know what to expect and when. This predictability not only reduces stress, but it improves students’ learning and their relationships with their teachers.

Here are eight ways to create more clarity and consistency in online classrooms, and help students feel at ease and valued in an online learning environment.

Clearly post routines and expectations. Students of all ages need explicit instruction regarding the “how to’s” for each teacher’s online classroom. Providing daily or weekly to-do lists can answer common questions and help online learning work more smoothly.

These lists may include items such as:
• What students are learning that day or week
• What tasks they must complete
• What content or materials are needed
• How to access activities and assignments
• Instructions for assignments and grading criteria
• How to get help if they don’t understand something
• How or where to get questions answered
• How and when to submit finished work
• When they can expect feedback on their work and how it will be provided

About the Author:

Judy Zimny, Ed.D., is the vice president of the National Institute for STEM Education.