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Classroom Management is an essential component to having successful sessions with your campers. When one has control of the classroom, it allows for an environment that is ready for learning. The same principle applies online.



Students entering our summer programs are often coming with mixed expectations and high energy.  Being housed in familiar, school-like settings, meeting in classrooms and then taking breaks outside and having fun creates a mix of activities between which there are (by design) blurred lines between camp and learning.  This makes our program memorable and our return-rate of campers over several summers, consistently high.  

But while Debate Camp is meant to be fun; there are moments where campers need to focus on a task, or listen to their peers or take direction from Program Staff.  As the energy of the week builds, so too does our need for effective classroom management strategies that ensures instructional time stays constructive and enjoyable for all.




To ensure effective classroom management; staff must plan ahead of any potential problems and ensure they have some techniques in mind for ensuring campers engage, participate and do not disrupt others.  Here are a couple techniques and reminders for both in-person and online instruction:


clear expectations; posted at front of room and / or at outset of each lesson

examples include, Debate Camp's DECORUM reminders:

  •   IN-PERSON:  Verbal cues and/or Call & Response - at key times when you need to  give instructions

Staff: “Eyes and ears on me” 

Staff: “One, Two, Three, Eyes on me;  - Campers response: “One, Two, Eyes on you!”

  •   ONLINE:  Utilize the chat feature

Consider posing a question of the day while you wait for the remainder of campers to trickle in to your ZOOM call. This will avoid students idly waiting.  The home life of children vary--infant siblings crying in the background, music playing, family conversations--and so there are times when muting and un-muting may become problematic at times. Therefore, consider keeping the chat function open to ask questions such as: “Put a 1 if you agree and a 2 if you disagree.” 

  •   ONLINE: Utilize ZOOM Breakout Rooms

This allows for effective small group work or 1:1 work

Smaller groups are also more manageable 

  •   ONLINE & IN-PERSON: Be Positive!

Your positive energy is everything!

If you are engaged, the campers are more likely to be engaged!

  •   ONLINE & IN-PERSON: Be Relational

Know your campers names; and use them in directing instruction

Keep using names / direct questions & instruction - with camper's names throughout instruction

avoid anonymity; as campers know when you do not know who they are, so become less invested more easily

  •   ONLINE & IN-PERSON: Be Structured & Organized

Order and organization make a classroom run smoothly - less conducive to chaos

ensure all tasks given have some perimeters, timed return / response - so students operate within guided limits



Plan for each day / Set your expectations at the beginning / Be consistent / Acknowledge the positive behaviors that you notice (Younger children tend to enjoy public verbal praise more than the older ones; Calling attention to the things your students are doing that meet your expectations reinforces the expectations for student behavior in a non-negative way.)


Realize that very little “misbehavior” is actually malicious. Most is actually age appropriate and to be expected in a healthy child.


ONLINE: You notice that a camper has her video camera off and is not participating. How can you approach this situation to re-engage this camper?

IN-PERSON: After 15 minutes of instruction on how to effectively refute an idea, or point made in a debate round, you notice that 2 or 3 campers are less engaged and sitracted by each other and a side conversation they are having.  What might you try in order to re-direct the situation?

ONLINE & IN-PERSON:  A debate is underway and points-of-information seem to be getting out of hand.  There are a lot of cross-floor comments and the camper speaking appears to have lost control of the debate. What do you to salvage the debate and ensure campers know this is not acceptable debate protocol?

ONLINE & IN-PERSON:  The debate has adjourned and it is clear 1 camper has been update by another's comments during the round.  In spite of your initial efforts to correct the situation as you remind everyone the debate is over, how do you ensure no feelings were hurt and / or the campers have a negative experience that risks turning them off debating in the future?







Why is checking for understanding important? 

How can you use assessment to inform your teaching?


What strategies can be applied?

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