Setting classroom norms can be a great activity to do collaboratively during or before the beginning of the first class, and can be a great way to get buy-in. Sometimes student perspectives on particular topics might be surprising and can vary from class to class; setting norms at the beginning can help alleviate classroom management concerns down the road.
For large classes, you might want to draw up a short "starting" list of classroom norms in advance and post it on Canvas for feedback and additions. For smaller classes, it's a great first-day activity to collaboratively write classroom norms together using a shared Google Doc.
Here are some possible examples of classroom norms, though these will vary by the specific needs. You don't need to adopt all of these--pick a few that are priorities for you.
Video Conferencing Expectations
- I'll be available in Zoom 5 minutes ahead of each class and available for questions and chat. Join if you can!
- Please practice courteous and respectful non-verbal communication with all members of the class. Keep eye contact, hand gestures, facial expressions, and body language polite and focused.
- Mute notifications and strive to keep your phone or other devices off or away during live class sessions. Close other tabs and windows. Be present and engaged.
- Please keep audio muted when not speaking.
- Please use video if and when you feel comfortable doing so and your internet allows. (See setting equitable classroom policies for reasons why you might not want to have a hard line on student video requirements.)
- If you have tech issues during a live session, try calling in instead.
- To the extent possible, work in a quiet, non-distracting space. Speak to housemates about limiting interruptions and noise during class time.
- Best for classes of 15 or more: To signal our/my attention in a large group setting, use the ‘Raise Hand’ function on Zoom or drop questions into the chat function. I will check these periodically throughout the class.
Small-Group Discussion Expectations
- Please practice attentive and responsive listening as well as professional dialogue.
- Use respectful language and body language.
- Remain in your breakout room until I/we designate otherwise.
- Select a speaker or scribe to summarize and share your small group’s discussion.
- Individually, take notes during the small group discussion so that you are prepared to share specifics.
Norms to Set for Office Hours
- If office hours are primarily one-on-one: Sign up for a specific time. (See more on scheduling office hours.) Please log into the Zoom call at your scheduled time. I might be with another student; in that case, expect to spend a few minutes in the waiting room.
- If office hours primarily consist of working on problem sets: Log in during the time blocks with questions. If there are more than 5 students logged in simultaneously, I will break you into small groups based on the part of the problem set you are currently working on. Please be respectful of one another, come with questions and with a way to share your work and collaborate.
- Please be professional, come with questions, and be aware of time in case other students are waiting.
Discussion Board Expectations for Students
Mindset: Everything you put online is permanent. Just because you can’t see the person’s face, doesn’t mean they are not human with human feelings and emotions. Your post is a reflection of you as a student and as a person.
- Read the directions and instructions thoroughly and carefully.
- Answer the prompt or the question fully or completely.
- Make sure your post is conversational and will ensure further dialogue
- Do the required reading to find evidence and provide a framework for your post.
- Write a draft somewhere else first.
- First, make sure you answered the questions or posted correctly with proper citations. Check to make sure you have not repeated what someone else already posted.
- Second, examine your tone. Is it professional? Polite? Respectful?
- Third, make sure your mechanics, spelling, and word choice are all correct and polished.
- If this post is a response to a classmate's post, make sure you read your classmate’s post properly and are responding respectfully and thoughtfully.
- Learn More:
It's easy for an online class to expand to fill the available time; setting clear communication norms at the beginning can help keep both you and your students happy.
Some example norms could include:
- I will post all class-wide announcements to Canvas. Please make sure that your Canvas notifications are turned on in a format that works for you.
- I will post an "FAQs" page in Canvas that I will keep regularly updated with questions about the class structure. Please double-check that board before asking questions.
- The best way to contact me with individual questions is by email. I check my email between the hours of ... and will respond by the next week day at that time. Expect to wait a bit for a response if you email me on weekends or outside my hours.
Used with permission from Stanford GSE's Teaching Resources.