13 clever teaching hacks for Microsoft Teams

To help with online learning, we've rounded up the best tips for making Microsoft Teams work for you and your students

Grainne Hallahan

Coronavirus schools

Whether you're a live teaching veteran, or a newbie to the world of streaming your lessons, you're probably still learning new tricks every day.

We put a call out for your best Microsoft Teams hacks on Twitter and received loads of tips. Here are some of the best:

Online learning: How to make the most of Microsoft Teams

1. Use the chat box for polls

If you’re halfway through your lesson and want to check that your class really do grasp the difference between iambic pentameter and blank verse, you can hop over to the chat box and type "@forms", allowing you to create a poll.  

You can gauge their opinions on a topic, find out how many have followed your explanation, or simply check they’re all still listening. You may have to update so you have Forms extension as an app on the chat (look for those three dots).

2. Add images or videos to your questions 

Whether you want to add an image or video to help prompt the answer, or because you want your students to use it in their responses, adding this extra media will replicate classroom teaching much more closely.

3. Stop notifications

It can be hard to write in your chat box if you’re constantly getting notifications from your class. You can solve this by setting your status to "do not disturb" – the chat box will magically appear again.

4. To like, or not to like

In the classroom, you might ask for a quick show of hands, or thumbs up or down, to ascertain whether your students are following your explanations. Sometimes just looking at a sea of faces is enough.

It's not so easy in the virtual classroom, but there is a workaround. Type two sentences into the chat box (copy and paste prepared ones to save time) and then ask your students to like the correct statement.

5. Take-away tasks

If you’ve got a slide on your PowerPoint with instructions for a task, you may want to ask your students to capture their screens at that moment so they have it for later. Or you can take a screenshot yourself by using print screen, and then paste it using CTR+V into the chat box.

6. Drawing on your whiteboard

In the classroom, you were able to project your PowerPoint presentation on to a whiteboard and annotate. On Teams, you can convert your PowerPoint into a PDF, upload it to the Class Notebook, and then annotate to your heart's content. 

7. Make anything a PDF

If you have a handwritten page of notes, or a print-out without the original document, or even a page in a textbook, you might think it is impossible to share it with your learners virtually.

However, if you use the Notes app on iPhone, you can open the camera and take a photo of the document, which will be converted into a PDF that you can upload to the Class Notebook.

8. Double up your screens

Irritatingly, Teams will obscure parts of your PowerPoint. Get around this by using a second device to display the presentation. This doesn't have to be a laptop; you can use a tablet or a phone instead.

9. Listen up

Verbal feedback is so valuable, but outside of the classroom it isn't so easy to give. However, if you add a separate channel for every student, you can dictate a voice memo on the iPad teams app and then it will appear on their private channel posts.

10. Roll call

You'll still want to take a register. Some teachers suggest printing out class lists and ticking as you go to ensure you've spoken to students every lesson, as well as checking attendance. However, it is worth knowing that you can download a list of who is in the meeting and when they arrive and leave. Do this before you end the session, though!

11. Duplicate to eliminate

The fiddly admin of setting up the lesson can be tiresome, especially if you're having to do it several times a day. Minimise your work by setting your lessons to repeat for the rest of the term.

To do this go to "repeat" and set to weekly or daily, or to custom if you need fortnightly repetitions for your two-week timetable.

12. Did you forget?

The very idea of a student forgetting to come to your lesson is obviously laughable. However, if you do have absent-minded pupils, you can send out email reminders on Teams.

On the channel, click the three dots to get an email address specific to that channel. Then use Outlook to draft a message and delay the send time to when you think your class will need the nudge.

13. Where is the fada?

If you're using the Teams chat and need the fada or other accents (MFL teachers, we've got you) or a symbol that doesn't appear on your normal keyboard (hello, maths teachers), there is a quick fix.

Press the Windows key plus the full stop and voila, a menu pops up with all the symbols you could ever want, and some emojis you probably don't, too.

Special thanks to Niall Statham of Hartland International School, and Carina Smith of Broadoak Academy for their assistance in compiling this list

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Grainne Hallahan

Grainne Hallahan

Grainne Hallahan is Tes recruitment editor and senior content writer at Tes

Find me on Twitter @heymrshallahan

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