K-6 ESL Online Behavior Management Strategies

Updated: Jan 1

While the mute button has been a great asset in the line of tools that Zoom has given us, there are still some gaps in how to manage behavior effectively during class time. Here are some ideas and tried methods that worked in my private English academy during our online setting.


Morning Greetings

For the hagwon world, morning meetings are something we can't really spend 20 minutes doing. Instead we do a morning greeting. During this time, we meditate for 2 minutes, I ask how they feel, and they do their morning jobs like weather and telling the date.


Online is not any different. I created a simple PowerPoint that allows me to do all the things I do inside the classroom, virtually. I feel doing all of this starts class on a positive note. I want my students to think, "I could do these simple tasks, maybe the next thing will be just as simple."


Job Assignments
Calendar Person Tells the Date
Weather Person Tells the Weather
Finish with a Small Grammar Exercise

It takes us about 10 minutes from start to finish. I really notice their focus improving because I have most of them do at least one part of our morning routine.


The Good Ol' Chart

I have heard some controversy around this method of behavior management, but as online classes are difficult to walk-through steps of self-assessment towards behavior, I like to use the behavior chart when teaching a group online.


Classrooms, as stated in my classroom jobs post, were space themed at my academy. So, I created a PowerPoint with a rocket chart for in-class management while on Zoom.



I am not a fan of lowering students on the chart, instead rewarding everyone else for following rules, even if they didn't realize they were doing it! I explain who is getting rewarded and why, "I see ____ and ____ doing work during independent work time, thank you."


We match the students' place on the chart with stamps on a physical paper. Students who get to certain ranges on the rocket get some allowance for our school economy. By the end of the week, they feel pretty good about how they did during the week.


The controversy behind charts is the idea that there is physical evidence that some students are "shamed" for their behavior. I understand that logic, but we are doing the best we can over the internet.


End of Class Peer/Individual Assessment

This will take some work from parents, or preparing for online ahead of time. I asked parents to print out a behavior assessment for their student. This worked out well for my homeroom class, as they like to work independently. (At my school, we go to the students and have 2 "main" classes for Kindergarten.)


Alternatively, you could print out a similar assessment and have students fill it out for their peers. This way they can tell you who they think deserves recognition for their work. Maybe they saw something you missed!

Online Sticker Chart

One final idea is to create a PowerPoint for each of your students with attainable goals for the day. Examples include finishing bookwork, raised hand before answering, or told a classmate, "Good job!" Decide on a sticker that can be copy and pasted for each student who performed the task.


You can create a bigger prize for when a student fills out different areas on their cards. It can be earning your school's currency, collecting a type of sticker (create a seperate card on the PowerPoint), or change thier avatar on a site like ClassroomDojo.




I won't lie, this idea would be best in a smaller online class. After about 10 students, this idea can become time consuming. It can also be difficult to grade/check their work efficiently during this time. It all depends on how your online class flows!



Post Covid-19

If you're reading this post Covid-19, I believe these methods are still valid as our world is realizing the value of online teaching/learning. I noticed a lot of improvement with some of my students once we switched to online learning. While online is not for every student, parent, or teacher, I LOVED online learning and hope to see myself teaching online again in the future.


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