August 17, 2020

How to Create Digital Classroom Rules for Your Students

GoGuardian Team
Student smiling and working at their computer at home


In today’s education system, the world is transitioning to the digital classroom using webinars, Google Classroom, and other forms of technology to teach their class. Digital classrooms can provide a myriad of benefits to teachers, students, and the school, such as reducing school supplies, transportation time, and access to digital tools. However, allowing students to run loose online and without proper instruction can lead to chaos and dysfunction. This is where digital classroom rules and procedures are necessary to create the optimal environment for learning.

Why Do You Need Digital Classroom Rules?

Establishing digital classroom rules ensure that your students are on task and focused during instruction time. Additionally, they help to streamline the learning process and give a structure for students to follow. For example, teaching your students to raise their hand or type in their answer in the chatbox is an excellent way to keep your students engaged. By having each student report on their previous assignment, students must come to their digital class session prepared and ready to share their findings.

With GoGuardian Teacher, you’re able to close distracting and unrelated student tabs, lock student screens, see a timeline of student activity, and take snapshots of off-tasks behaviors from students to remove distractions from your students. For high school classroom rules, this is extremely important because students are likely smarter about using the browser to navigate out of a lecture.

What Are Some Good Rules for the Classroom?

Manage Device Misbehavior and Misuse

Because many classrooms are now virtual, it’s easy for students to begin breaking the rules, such as using their devices during class. In a regular setting, it would be difficult for students to use their phones because you can physically see them. Make it clear when a student is allowed and isn’t allowed to use other devices. Although this is hard to manage, ask students to show on their screen that they have powered all mobile devices off, and tell them to have all eyes on you during the lecture portion. This is easier to manage if students have their cameras turned on during a video lesson, but not every teacher will require this. It’s also important to keep in mind that not every student will feel comfortable on camera. Always get verbal feedback from your students, and check-in with them to ensure they are paying attention.

For classroom rules, elementary students will need more attention than high school students. For example, for younger students, you may display a picture of a stoplight to signal that students are not allowed to use mobile devices during this portion of the class. One tip is to give 5-minute mini-breaks to let students get up, use the bathrooms, and check their phones to help students with shorter attention spans.

Explain Rules of Courtesy

To ensure you create a safe and productive learning environment for your students, advise students to choose a quiet place that is free from distractions for their virtual classes. Have them exit off other applications on their computer and turn off the television and mobile devices so that they can focus on learning. Also, have them check their audio, video, and internet connection ahead of time. Jumping on and off a call can cause the student to miss valuable class time, but also can cause a distraction for other students as well. Remind your students to turn off their microphones unless they raise their hands and it’s their turn to speak.

Create Small Groups

With an online classroom, students can feel isolated, causing them to feel helpless when they don’t understand. One way to make students feel comfortable in learning is by interacting with other students to allow them to help each other. Rather than having to help each student on a one-by-one basis, your students can collaboratively work together to learn. Create small groups, and have them work on home assignments or projects together. Have each group divide the work up equally and present their finished assignment to the class. When collaboration is formed, students tend to learn from each other and form friendships, which defeats the feeling of loneliness.

Encourage Participation

By having your students actively participate in their learning, you can better gauge their level of understanding and ensure they are paying attention. One way to keep them involved and ensure attendance is to poll students. Using apps that let you issue real-time polls and have text-response options allows you to check-in with them. For example, utilize a survey after your lecture to gauge what they remember about your lesson plan.

Asking Questions

Teach students how to “raise their hand” in a virtual classroom to ask questions and participate. Once your student raises their hand, you can unmute them and allow them to ask their question. This creates an open dialogue between teacher and student instead of a one-way conversation. Another way to ask questions is to have students type in the chatbox. This allows you to finish your lecture and then come back to problems later. You can answer the items in a Q&A style of rapid succession at the end of class.

Dress Code

Make sure to be clear on what is appropriate to wear during live online classes. You want to state the rules ahead of time. Students may take lessons more seriously if they wear the clothes that they’d wear to school, even if they aren’t there with you in person. They are more likely to hold themselves accountable for learning and showing up to class on time. For classroom rules, middle school students take the step from being a child to learning how to dress and act in an appropriate manner. However, it’s up to you as the teacher, the school’s policies, and your students’ comfort levels with being on camera.

Establish a Routine

When a routine is established, students know what to expect. Students can be comfortable and confident to show up to class (if you’re teaching synchronously) and prepare ahead of time. It’s best to start the semester off with a syllabus and a week-by-week breakdown of topics covered, tests, quizzes, and projects that are ahead, so they know the commitment level needed for your class.

Additionally, you should also go over the structure of the course. For example, every Monday could be a test day, and every other Friday could be saved for student presentations only. You may also add routines such as starting each class by checking homework, followed by a lecture portion, and then Q&A to check for understanding.

Teach Students How to Succeed in Their Class

For students who aren’t accustomed to eLearning, it can be quite the transition. Teach students how to use all of the available resources that you offer. For instance, if you have an online portal such as Google Classroom, teach them how to access all of the previous presentation slides or recordings of lectures. Show them how to submit homework assignments, review study guides, and post a question in the discussion board. Students should also be able to review their current grades and visually see their performance.

From there, you can help them to understand what they can do to improve their grades moving forward, such as sharing feedback on previous homework assignments. For example, if a student is unsure about a topic, they should easily be able to ask their peers and contact you. Furthermore, give students the ability to schedule after-hour meetings in case they aren’t catching on to the material. Similar to being available after class, you can create a calendar and send them a calendar invite for virtual tutoring sessions or office hours.


Virtual classrooms are clearly on the rise. It’s anticipated that digital classes will experience a 16.2 percent growth rate by 2023. With new learning management software tools, organizing a productive learning environment is easier than ever. As schools are making the transitions, it’s essential to adjust by establishing rules for your students and getting them acclimated with eLearning. Check out GoGuardian Teacher™ for an all-in-one video conferencing platform to communicate, collaborate, and deliver lessons, as well as technological capabilities to remove distractions.