The act of teaching in a hybrid learning environment is an art form. Due to the mix of in-person students and students attending class remotely and thanks to the assistance of distance learning tools, hybrid classrooms require educators to pull off a delicate balance of sturdy, historied teaching methods and modern, tech-savvy lessons all at once. Piece of cake, right? (Teachers, in unison— wrong!) 

While this past year saw a lot of schools pivoting back and forth between remote, in-person and hybrid learning, in March of this year 30.6% of K-12 students attended hybrid schools. With the increase in reliable remote learning tools available to school districts, as well as the high success rate of hybrid learning environments, it looks like hybrid classrooms will be here to stay.

Kindergarten teacher Mackenzie Adams went viral on TikTok for her innovative hybrid teaching methods for her young students. She uses paddles to visually show when students should have their microphones on and off and includes a fun background in the classroom for students learning remotely. Almost 10M likes on TikTok (and counting) later, her videos are resonating with students, caregivers and fellow teachers who are figuring out “this whole hybrid thing” together.

paddles hybrid teaching tool from tiktok

Image: NBC16

Anyone can master the art of teaching in a hybrid classroom when they have the right mindset, classroom setup and access to the necessary tech tools. Read on to learn tips on how to get comfortable teaching in a hybrid school environment, including how to set up your hybrid classrooms.

What is a hybrid classroom?

A hybrid classroom is any learning environment where educators teach a combination of in-person and remote students. There is no standard ratio of in-person and remote students required for hybrid classrooms. Instead, each hybrid learning environment is composed of the number of in-person students that the classroom can safely accommodate and the number of remote students that distance learning technology can support.

Hybrid Teaching Best Practices

For new teachers, diving right into leading a hybrid class can feel like performing a juggling act in the world’s first educational circus. You might be asking yourself, “How do you keep on-site students engaged without neglecting virtual students?” Or, “How do you make sure you are meeting the needs of students participating in classroom activities electronically without ignoring the needs of the students sitting at their desks right in front of you?” With a little bit of creativity, a whole lot of preparedness and the expectation that things will never go according to plan, you’ll be on your way to becoming a hybrid teaching ringmaster.

Engage Remote and On-Site Students

The key to successful hybrid lessons is: engagement, engagement, engagement. When students are unable to engage with classroom activities and lessons, they aren’t learning or making the most out of their educational experiences. Unfortunately, keeping students engaged remotely, in-person, or hybrid can be a challenge on its own. Sprinkle in the hybrid element and your students (especially the younger they are) are more likely to disengage during class. To keep their attention and their eyes on their education, try some of these engagement boosting tips for hybrid classrooms:

  • Provide students with 5-10 minutes of unstructured time at the beginning of class to socialize with one another and connect with you casually, so they are less likely to try to do so during lessons
  • Create lesson plans that engage on-site students, remote students and all students together to provide variety throughout the day
  • Conduct group activities that allow on-site students to work together and remote students to work together, then mix it up by creating smaller hybrid groups
  • Engagement is about stimulation, to keep your students intellectually stimulated remember to include variation in your lesson plan
  • Take screen breaks to prevent fatigue for remote students and brain breaks to prevent fatigue in on-site students, like participating in group stretching time or independent reading
  • Treat all students equally by having them all participate in the same lessons, but keep in mind the limitations of remote students as to not alienate them
  • Be creative with your tech tools, use them to create interactive lessons that all students can participate in regardless of where they are located.
  • Meet students where they are. Are they obsessed with TikTok? Encourage them to be creative and make educational videos. 


Hybrid Classroom Community Building

Successfully leading a cohesive hybrid classroom lies in the community you are able to build between yourself, your on-site students, and your remote students. Without cohesion between those three parties, you may have a hard time conducting engaging lessons. The first thing to remember about your new hybrid classroom community is that if something is new to you, it is probably new to your students as well. Whether that is a hybrid activity, classroom setup, or piece of technology.

To create a proactive learning environment, take the time to build a supportive hybrid classroom community based on trusting relationships and open communication. As long as your students feel safe and comfortable communicating with you and each other, you will be set up for success in your hybrid classroom. 

Students can have a number of different home environments, so it’s important to be conscious of what may be going on in the background at home. Students are being placed out of their comfort zones just like teachers may be— this year teachers’ roommates, significant others, family members and kids have popped into a Zoom unexpectedly, and students have also had to reveal their home setups and figure out how to attend live classes amidst their busy lives.

Ways to Build Hybrid Class Culture

  • Use inclusive language when communicating with students (inclusive of location, home environment, family or caregivers)
  • Encourage conversations between students during and after class
  • Leverage social media-style online platforms and students’ preferred online communities/websites (YouTube, TikTok) 
  • Create small group projects over time to foster relationships between students, independent of location
  • Use cloud-based apps and tools like Google Docs for real-time collaboration between students
  • Translate all in-classroom activities to a digital alternative or offer an online replacement

In a hybrid classroom this means treating all students equally, regardless of where they are located. If you greet your in-person students individually each morning with an elbow bump or wave, be sure to greet your remote students individually as well with a direct wave or thumbs up. 

Best Hybrid Classroom Setups

The success of your hybrid classroom relies heavily on your classroom setup. Due to the inclusion of increased tech tools with hybrid learning, classroom organization is one thing that does not directly translate from fully in-person classes. Instead, you’ll need to rearrange your classroom setup to support your in-person and remote students equally. Like our favorite TikToker Mackenzie, consider updating your background in your physical teaching space to give remote learners an engaging frame (or wearing a baseball jersey from your favorite team!) 

hybrid kindergarten teacher on tiktok

Image: TikTok

The exact setup you use will depend on the size and shape of your classroom, your class size and the tech tools you use. When rearranging your hybrid class to optimize productivity and collaboration, keep these things in mind:

  • Cameras should be set up so that remote students can see all materials on the board and in the classroom
  • Arrange your cameras and classroom furniture so the teacher is visible as they move around the room
  • Incorporate flexible physical classroom space dependent on classroom activities
  • Design your classroom with hybrid group activities in mind
  • The communication and collaborative tech tools you use in the classroom will dictate how cameras and computers are set up in your classroom

Hybrid Classroom Tech Tools

Speaking of hybrid tech tools...teaching in hybrid classrooms is dependent on the strength of your technology. Depending on the age of your students, you may need to opt for tools with increased levels of user-friendliness. But for the most part, every hybrid classroom will incorporate a combination of these tech tools:


Once you have all of your hybrid learning technology picked out and set up in your classroom, you can design your room to best support the use of the technology. It’s important to remember that no matter which tech tools you choose to support your hybrid classrooms, taking the necessary time to teach your students (and possibly caregivers) how to use the tools is essential. Treat the hybrid classroom tech as an extension of your lesson plan. The first step for any assignment should always be training your students on how to use the virtual communication and collaboration tools they have been provided. And importantly— giving them extra time to work through it and ask questions.

Tech in classrooms is not new, but it has taken on a new life in recent years. To learn more about how to optimize your classroom for hybrid learning, here is How Tech Has Changed the Classroom.