Home Good Teaching Establishing Norms for Remote Learning

Establishing Norms for Remote Learning

by Diana Benner
norms

Think about the activities you typically do during the first week of the school year.  At the beginning of a new school year or semester, time is taken to discuss expectations that include how we should behave in class and around others. We create an understanding of what is appropriate in the classroom. These are class norms.  

Many schools are starting this school year remotely. Remember, remote learning refers to a class that intends to meet face-to face in a traditional format, but is transitioned or started online due to unforeseen circumstances. In our current situation, creating norms may provide a sense of normalcy in this uncertain time. Below are some suggestions for developing and maintaining norms for your remote classroom.

Developing Norms with Students

Students are more likely to buy into the class norms if they have a hand in creating them. One way to do this is start with a list of what you consider bare essentials. Then, work together with your students to develop a set of norms.

Make sure norms are clear and specific. In addition, don’t have too many of them. Focus on those norms that will contribute to a successful, orderly learning environment. It would be to hard to remember a long list of norms. You can also get your students’ input on the consequences for breaking the norms. Check out these steps for developing norms.

In a Remote Learning Environment

In a remote learning environment, the learning might happen synchronously or asynchronously. Synchronous learning happens in real time, whereas asynchronous learning occurs without real-time interaction. Developing norms for remote learning will help foster engagement and accountability. Below are some tips to help you focus and prepare for developing remote learning norms.

Tips

  • Raising your hand in class is simple, but getting the teacher’s attention in a synchronous class is more difficult. Consider how you will ask students to indicate they want to share. Some digital tools have a raise hand button.
  • Use established signals to facilitate taking turns to avoid simultaneous talking. For example, mute when not speaking, thumbs up, raise hand.
  • Consider when cameras should and shouldn’t be used. As the teacher, your video should be on so students can see you and read your body language. Consider giving students the option to turn their video on or off. Some students might feel uncomfortable being on camera or showing their home. If this is the case, encourage them to take advantage of digital backgrounds, if this is available in the tool you are using. You don’t want your students to feel pressured to turn on their camera.
  • Think about the classroom discussions that will take place or the comments your students might make. Reinforce staying on topic. Make sure comments are clear and appropriate to the topic. Remind students not to say anything they wouldn’t say in your actual classroom. They should think before they speak.
  • If you need ideas on where to get started, check out these Sample Remote Classroom Norms, Expectations, and Rules.

Be Flexible

Forming class norms early on ensures success and can shape the culture of the class in positive ways. However, be sure to be flexible and have realistic expectations. Remember, we are in a remote learning situation for a reason and even under the best circumstances, learning can be messy.

If you would like to explore remote learning more in detail, be sure to check out our Remote Learning Educator Certification online course. In addition, we have created mini-sessions that are available for you to view that focus on remote learning tips and tricks. If you have remote learning norms you would like to share, please comment below.


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130 comments

Angie Buck August 18, 2020 - 9:26 am

Thank you

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Terri King August 18, 2020 - 10:00 am

All schools need to reopen as soon as possible.

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Robin Maca August 20, 2020 - 2:33 pm

Yes, I agree! We and the kids need social interactions.

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Kayla Phearse August 18, 2020 - 10:12 am

establishing norms with online learners creates a consistency. Students sometimes assume that because they are not physically in the room that they don’t have to follow the same norms. It’s important to discuss this with students.

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Grace Saucedo August 19, 2020 - 8:48 am

Totally agree… the environment may be different, but the expectations or norms must remain to be effective.

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Brenda Jackson August 19, 2020 - 11:51 am

I absolutely agree with your comment! We need to set the norms upfront

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Mona August 19, 2020 - 12:10 pm

Great information for virtual teaching

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Wendi-Fay M Martinez August 19, 2020 - 2:01 pm

Agree! No matter if the students are in-person or virtual, the same expectations are for both. Students need to get “back” into routine and be flexible with the possibilities of how the school year will look. In addition, student and staff health need to be put into consideration, because none of us would want to lose either our own, a co-worker or student’s life due to in-person learning. Especially when we can achieve the same goal virtually.

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Emily Weiman August 18, 2020 - 10:20 am

I will need to think a lot about what assignments with my students will look like. SOme of my students have no language so assignments will need to be interactive as opposed to verbal or type respinses

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Jennifer Kerner August 18, 2020 - 10:21 am

Consider when a camera should or should not be used.

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Philip Hajduk August 18, 2020 - 10:21 am

Thank you.

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Huma Quadri August 18, 2020 - 10:22 am

TEA is doing a great job for all the students.

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Dennis Ober August 18, 2020 - 10:37 am

Thanks for the tips.

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ibeth Nixon August 18, 2020 - 10:40 am

I would like to explore remote learning more in detail. I will read the information at a later time.

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Jalisa Jenkins August 19, 2020 - 9:55 am

I will also!

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Darrell August 18, 2020 - 10:57 am

Good info I like the other articles it suggest also.

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Kelcey Beard August 18, 2020 - 10:57 am

Lots of good information and wonderful resources

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abby August 18, 2020 - 11:03 am

Great ideads

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Yulanda Brazelton August 18, 2020 - 11:05 am

Thank you

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Paula Jayne Osborne August 18, 2020 - 11:11 am

Be flexible!

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Mayra Perez August 18, 2020 - 11:22 am

Great information for teachers who are teaching virtually.

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Sara Kimpton August 18, 2020 - 11:37 am

Great Article

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lisa roberson August 18, 2020 - 11:38 am

I like the idea of choosing a virtual background to help students feel safe being on camera in their homes.

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Teresa August 18, 2020 - 11:41 am

Simple and useful tips. I would like to get certificated in Schoology.

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Christi Bates August 18, 2020 - 11:41 am

I am hoping to make remote learning seem as normal as possible for my students.

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Rosalinda August 18, 2020 - 12:48 pm

It is important to help students understand your class expectations and create a list of do’s and don;ts.

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Rosalinda August 18, 2020 - 12:49 pm

Just like classroom rules, your rules for remote learning should not consist of a long list.

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Cary August 18, 2020 - 12:59 pm

Connecting to your parents and the kids is a key component to a smooth year!

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Ashley Caballero August 18, 2020 - 1:16 pm

Being flexible is very important!

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Mallory Makris August 18, 2020 - 1:20 pm

Having a plan/ensuring that students have a uniform understanding of how to “raise your hand” digitally is a great way to prevent multiple students talking over one another during remote learning sessions.

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Mary Zoch August 19, 2020 - 8:24 am

I like this; too! Introducing new ways of doing things makes learning more fun!

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Norm August 18, 2020 - 1:37 pm

good.

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denise hicks August 18, 2020 - 1:49 pm

reassure everything will be ok

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Vicki August 18, 2020 - 2:01 pm

Norms are important whether face to face or virtually.

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Maria August 18, 2020 - 2:16 pm

Good information. Would like to revisit in the future.

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Timothy Castro August 18, 2020 - 2:17 pm

Absolutely trying times reassurance and support are going to be a key component of success

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Sabrina August 18, 2020 - 2:18 pm

Very helpful. Will develop classroom norms with students.

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Lisa August 18, 2020 - 2:43 pm

I love the idea of virtual backgrounds. The kids will really enjoy this.

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Gretchen Simmons August 18, 2020 - 3:07 pm

thanks for the tips.

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Jean Sharp August 18, 2020 - 3:09 pm

Students must know expectations for a hybrid classroom.

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Kim Bridges August 18, 2020 - 3:09 pm

Remote learning is going to need us to be very flexible.

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Amanda Ball August 18, 2020 - 3:12 pm

Great information! It’s so important to have this in place.

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Jaffar Milledge August 18, 2020 - 3:24 pm

This was helpful.

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Crowder August 18, 2020 - 3:29 pm

Will develop for students.

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Christina August 18, 2020 - 3:32 pm

Support is going to key component this year to success

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Carrie August 18, 2020 - 3:33 pm

It’s important to establish norms with your online students. It will help make their learning experience better and they will feel more successful.

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Veronica M Bradley August 18, 2020 - 3:49 pm

Thanks

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Karen Bard August 18, 2020 - 4:02 pm

Flexible is the key!

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marcus Daniel Gabriel August 18, 2020 - 9:13 pm

Great info and informative

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Rebecca Ponder August 19, 2020 - 8:24 am

Flexibility is the word for the year!

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Jessica Mallard August 19, 2020 - 8:24 am

I like the idea of giving them the option of using a virtual background, but I dont think I will offer them to turn their cameras off.

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Debbie August 19, 2020 - 8:37 am

Thank you for the information in the article. Keeping things flexible and ready for anything is a big plus.

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Paige August 19, 2020 - 8:40 am

I am learning and growing as we all are. I think everyone is working hard.

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Cynthia J Adams August 19, 2020 - 8:46 am

This was helpful.

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Terri August 19, 2020 - 8:46 am

Thank you for the helpful tips. Terri

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Mary Cabezas-Broadhead August 19, 2020 - 8:46 am

It is very important to establish norms and expectations at the beginning of the year and review them as necessary. It might be daily, weekly or anytime that is needed.

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Grace Saucedo August 19, 2020 - 8:49 am

Developing norms in the beginning will be helpful throughout the year… just remember to adjust as needed.

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Yvonne August 19, 2020 - 8:53 am

Thank you for the information.

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Suzanne Grace Mwamba August 19, 2020 - 8:53 am

Thanks

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Donna August 19, 2020 - 8:57 am

Spending the time to set the norms initially will set the tone for your class for the entire year.

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Jennifer August 19, 2020 - 8:57 am

Norms provide consistency in the classroom!! 🙂

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Ursula August 19, 2020 - 9:12 am

Thank you! Very useful tips!

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Charles Hobbs August 19, 2020 - 9:13 am

Thats Awesome

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Edna August 19, 2020 - 9:17 am

Looking at getting certified.

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Maria August 19, 2020 - 9:20 am

In order to have a good communication with your students it is very important to establish norms from the beginning,

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Ashrafa Hossain August 19, 2020 - 9:25 am

We all are in together in new digital learning year . We will do great .

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Judy Szurek August 19, 2020 - 9:29 am

Good ideas to implement in the classroom

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Asia Thompson August 19, 2020 - 9:30 am

Very informative

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Mitch Cutsinger August 19, 2020 - 9:35 am

I like the distance learning suggestions. It will be important to establish there norms at the beginning of the semester

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Stanley Howard August 19, 2020 - 9:39 am

Teamwork is the key to success

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Teri Carrillo August 19, 2020 - 9:54 am

I think the norms part will be helpful this year. I have some remote and some at school F2F.

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Kristen August 19, 2020 - 10:00 am

Right now is the time for grace and flexibility. TEA is doing a great job!

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Abigail Smith August 19, 2020 - 10:01 am

Looks fine.

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Ronald M Shelton August 19, 2020 - 10:01 am

Teachers have to be flexible these days.

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Jeff August 19, 2020 - 10:03 am

Thank you and I hope we can make this work for all of our students.

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Deidre J Douglas August 19, 2020 - 10:05 am

Great information to start the year as normal as possible.

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Timothy Rush August 19, 2020 - 10:08 am

Being able to adapt is key.

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Steven August 19, 2020 - 10:12 am

Flexibility is paramount in an online learning environment.

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Brandy August 19, 2020 - 10:16 am

It is definitely important to establish norms with your students from the very beginning.

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Candi August 19, 2020 - 10:20 am

Establishing a safe and flexible classroom will help promote a positive classroom.

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Robert Sanchez August 19, 2020 - 10:22 am

being open minded is very important
must be flexible.

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Christine Brusen August 19, 2020 - 10:22 am

Be flexible

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Shelli Jernigan August 19, 2020 - 10:29 am

Thank you.

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Jamie Ragusa August 19, 2020 - 10:32 am

Thank you. I like the mindset of intention to meet face to face. That way relationship building can be a priority. Connections can be made

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Kathryn Zepeda August 19, 2020 - 10:33 am

Thank you for this!

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Erick Peters August 19, 2020 - 10:35 am

Great article.

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Michelle Corvin August 19, 2020 - 10:46 am

Thank you! Good information!

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Chris Caldwell August 19, 2020 - 10:52 am

Getting support from your team members/colleagues is going to be a must this school year.

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Larenzo Seals August 19, 2020 - 10:55 am

Thank you this will be very helpful for our students this year!!

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nadine August 19, 2020 - 10:55 am

This was helpful!

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Patricia Wall-wyman August 19, 2020 - 10:59 am

When things settle down, I am definitely interested in this certification, I don’t see us ever stopping to use the benefits of online organization and student contact even post apocalypse, so would really like to be more adept at it.

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Holli Michelle Fitzpatrick August 19, 2020 - 11:01 am

Patience, flexibility and empathy are tools for success

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Patricia Wall-Wyman August 19, 2020 - 11:02 am

My student’s are not paper and pencils students, the fact that we can see each other and maintain that contact is vital to our students with various levels of ID, AU, etc…

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George Stewart August 19, 2020 - 11:08 am

Definitely have to be flexible for our students.

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brent August 19, 2020 - 11:27 am

yep flexible

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Wendy Gillikin August 19, 2020 - 11:27 am

Be flexible!

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R. Jimenez August 19, 2020 - 11:32 am

Thanks

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KaylaBell August 19, 2020 - 11:38 am

Being flexible is one of the important things you have to do, also you might want to establish some norms for online learning so consistency starts to develop.

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Brenda Jackson August 19, 2020 - 11:53 am

Establish norms, Be flexible, and communicate!

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Jay Gomez August 19, 2020 - 12:03 pm

Key word for the year flexibility!

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Zulma Heckman August 19, 2020 - 12:19 pm

This was helpful.

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Richard Dowell August 19, 2020 - 12:23 pm

Thank you for this summary of many different options and how to use them. My school will be using Canvas. I found many of the sub categories very helpful and clearly explained. Though I would rather be teaching in a classroom this helped me think through some ways I could get past my anxieties.

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Dale Williams August 19, 2020 - 12:47 pm

Very helpful

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Angela Martinez August 19, 2020 - 1:01 pm

Thanks!

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Ronnie Mindrup August 19, 2020 - 1:14 pm

Norms are very important in PE. If norms are established early, it will help set the tone for the entire year. I like the ideas that were provided in the reading that would help establish norms for online learnetrs.

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Matt Harner August 19, 2020 - 1:37 pm

This a great informational article.

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Mrs. Mattazzi August 19, 2020 - 1:39 pm

I agree…setting norms up front and communicating expectations for the teacher and the student will help make remote learning a beneficial experience for all. Discuss everything and put things in writing.

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Mauricio Vazquez August 19, 2020 - 1:48 pm

Great content. thanks

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Jonathan Biehl August 19, 2020 - 2:16 pm

Thanks for the tips!

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Adis Avila August 19, 2020 - 2:39 pm

Thank you! Great ideas!

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Gloria Malek August 19, 2020 - 2:58 pm

I agree with everyone. You need to establish norms for the class to run smoothly.

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Maya August 19, 2020 - 3:03 pm

It will be a critical piece for having a really great experience with my students who are learning in the AB environment.

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Merrill Franklin August 19, 2020 - 4:12 pm

Thanks!

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Gloria Dimas August 19, 2020 - 6:51 pm

This is a helpful article. Norms must be established whether remotely or face to face because the first days of school always set the tone for how the rest of the year will look like.

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Deann Ramirez August 19, 2020 - 8:42 pm

It is important to teach classroom norms from the very beginning, this can be by you making a few suggestions, or having the students take ownership and create them. Once norms have been set, continuously go over them and follow through with consistency.

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Glynis Nerren August 20, 2020 - 8:07 am

est norms will help kids feel like class is structured

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John August 20, 2020 - 8:22 am

I totally agree with the idea of not having too many rules to establish norms.

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Janette August 20, 2020 - 2:28 pm

Reassuring everything will be okay.

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Robin Maca August 20, 2020 - 2:36 pm

Just as if we were at school together, setting the our expectations come first. Thank you for the fun examples to post.

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Maureen Garcia August 21, 2020 - 3:03 pm

I liked your comment about students and teachers are all in this together.

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Elaine Baldwin August 24, 2020 - 3:41 pm

We are all in this together. The norms have to be set upfront just like the classroom procedures in the beginning of the school year.

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Debra Overton August 25, 2020 - 8:09 am

Just as if we were at school together, setting the our expectations come first

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Idaresit August 26, 2020 - 4:15 pm

Love this! Thank you!

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Reena Richards August 26, 2020 - 5:48 pm

For a good communications , norms should be set right at the beginning .

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Emily August 28, 2020 - 1:23 pm

Awesome

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Martha August 31, 2020 - 12:38 pm

Thank you for all the info and ideas.

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Jamie Cox September 1, 2020 - 8:38 am

We and the kids need social interactions.

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Evangelina Ortiz September 2, 2020 - 2:17 pm

valuable information, and the magic word flexibility.

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Dee Dee Bull September 6, 2020 - 2:56 pm

Norms are helpful for students, family and even myself as the teacher. When all involved are aware of the expectations, class is more apt to run smoothly.

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Elizabeth Billman September 13, 2020 - 10:38 pm

Great reminder to involve the kids in creating them.

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