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How to Manage Distractions in the Online Classroom

By VIPKid  |  March 30, 2021

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When you’re a teacher, distractions in the classroom are inevitable. When you’re teaching from home, it’s even more difficult to limit those distractions and drive online classroom engagement. Let’s face it: as VIPKid teachers know, there’s no secret formula to magically eliminate distractions from your lesson. The key is to learn how to recognize and manage student distractions in the online classroom (or even use them to your advantage). We’ve put together our five top tactics for keeping your lessons as distraction-free as possible.

1. Work their Distraction into the Lesson

If a student is distracted during your online lesson, this is often the best way to reel them back in. Is your student sidetracked with a stuffed animal or toy during the lesson? Invite them to share it in the virtual classroom! Ask the student questions like what their “friend’s” name is, or other questions about its color, size, and even what it likes.

You can go even further and use their distraction to answer questions. Ask them if their “friend” wants to join the lesson, and have students explain their answers to it. Using real things in the student’s environment will get them more engaged in your lesson. They’ll even learn and practice new language skills without realizing it!

2. Keep Students Engaged with Props and TPR

Students are people too. They’ll be more engaged if they’re having fun! If you’re going to ask a child to sit in a virtual classroom and listen to you lecture for an entire class, of course they’ll get distracted. 

Keep the lesson fresh by using props. Even something simple like a microphone when it’s their turn to speak will keep things fun and limit student distractions. To keep a student’s artistic side engaged, you can even have them make props for them to use at certain points in a lesson.

In addition to props, use strategies like Total Physical Response (TPR) to get kids moving, and keep the lesson fun! 

3. Give the Silent Treatment

Remember in school when your normally fun and outgoing teacher would go completely silent when students weren’t paying attention? Maybe they even dropped in an “I’ll wait…” You probably refocused immediately.

This tactic works in the online classroom too, especially with older students who are often trying to see how much they can get away with. Don’t go silent all the time, or your students might choose to ignore it. But occasionally giving a quick silent treatment can be extremely effective in getting students to refocus and increasing your students’ online classroom participation.

4. Use a Consistent Call & Response

While the silent treatment is more effective with older students, a call and response is great for younger kids. Once a consistent call and response has been used in your classroom for a while, students won’t even realize how quickly they snap to attention. Don’t be afraid to be creative with it and make it fun for your students! In fact, the more fun your call and response is, the quicker your students will respond and get back to engaging in your lesson.

There are almost endless call and response options to use in your classroom, but here are a few of our favorites:

Teacher: “1, 2, 3, eyes on me!” Students: “1, 2, eyes on you!”

Teacher: “Flat tire!” Students: “Shhhhhhh…”

Teacher: “Hocus pocus…” Students: “Time to focus!”

5. Avoid Distractions from Your End

Don’t want students to be distracted in the virtual classroom? Leading by example is often the best way to teach, and online classroom engagement is no exception. If you don’t want them getting distracted, then you can’t be distracted either! 

Silence your phone and have a dedicated space in your home for your classroom. Put a sign outside the door to avoid unplanned interruptions from the lesson, and completely dedicate that time to the lesson. To make the virtual classroom more immersive, decorate the wall behind you with a fun (non-distracting) background! 

Teaching from home as a VIPKid teacher is the best part-time job, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy! By following these tips to keep students engaged and not distracted, you’re well on your way to making your virtual classroom a place where learning happens.
Have any other tips to manage distractions in the online classroom? Hit us up on Instagram and let us know what works for you!

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