Using Interactive Modeling to Create Consistency in a Changeable Situation

Using Interactive Modeling to Create Consistency in a Changeable Situation

As they step into the 2020-21 school year, teachers across the country are facing a wholly unique set of challenges brought on by the novel coronavirus, including the question of how best to deliver instruction when circumstances require that their delivery diverge—in some cases substantially—from what’s been effective in the past. Because Responsive Classroom educators devote time at the beginning of each school year to teaching routines and procedures so students can engage in safe and independent learning, one question you might be asking yourself right now is: How do I teach my routines and procedures when my classroom is either fully or partially online and when I know that this format could change in the blink of an eye?

As you consider how your routines and procedures will be different this year and plan how to teach them, Interactive Modeling will be a critical tool in making sure all students can learn, feel safe, and experience a sense of belonging. Regardless of the format you start the year in, the first step is to take time to review the list of routines and procedures you teach your students. Next to that list, add a column for the routines and procedures you’ll teach your students for online learning and a column for the routines and procedures you’ll teach in a hybrid learning model. This will help you feel more prepared to support your students in any instructional setting.

Once your list is complete, plan out how you will use Interactive Modeling for your online routines and procedures, just like you would do in person. For example, how will students access their lessons, turn in work, contact you, or use a strategy like Space and Time? The format used for your Interactive Modeling may vary based on your school’s instructional delivery method.

In-Person or Hybrid Learning

If you’re teaching in person part or all of the time, walk students through what they will do if and when they are completing schoolwork at home. Then consider taking a class period for students to model for you how they will access a lesson and complete their work. They can pretend you aren’t there and that they are at home working independently. End the class period by offering feedback and making note of places you may need to offer reinforcement or reteaching.

Virtual Learning

If you are starting your school year online, your modeling might be done in a video that students can watch on their own. For student practice, host a “classroom period” where students are logged on and complete their work. During this time, you can message, email, or communicate in some other fashion the feedback students need in order to be successful.

Preparing for a Format Change

If you think your school might switch with short notice to fully online instruction, take a moment to brainstorm the first thing students will need access to in order to be successful in your class. Give them several opportunities to practice accessing this resource and give feedback so students feel prepared. Keeping it simple by only focusing on accessing the resource allows students to focus on their in-person or hybrid routines and procedures.


Rather than thinking about what you can’t do, take this school year as an opportunity to reimagine your class’s routines and practices.

Written by Heather Young, Middle School Teacher and Responsive Classroom Consulting Teacher
Tags: Transitions, Virtual Learning