Microsoft Teams for Teachers

This post covers essential tips for teachers when using Microsoft Teams.

Many of these tips will increase student engagement while other tips will help you get organized.

If you are a new Teams user with limited to no training, check out this link for a post and video on the Teams – Complete Guide.  This linked post will introduce you to the Teams ecosystem and orient you to all the major features.

Once you have a solid foundation for Teams, you can revisit this post for tips.

If you have already seen that post or just can’t wait, then wait no further.

Tip #1: Launch Polls During a Meeting

If you would like to take a poll during a meeting, you need to first create the poll and assign it to the meeting.

To do this, navigate to the Calendar section in Teams and open the scheduled meeting you wish to add the poll to.

Microsoft Teams - Calendar Meeting

In the meeting details, click the “plus” sign in the upper-right corner.

Microsoft Teams - Meeting Options

A list of app add-ins will appear.  Select the app named Forms and click Add to give the installer permission to install the Forms app into Teams.

Microsoft Teams - Forms

Creating a New Poll

To create a new poll, click “Create New Poll”.

Microsoft Teams - Create Poll

We will enter the question we want to ask in the poll along with options such as “Yes”, “No”, and “Maybe” along with other options like user anonymity and the ability to select multiple responses.

Microsoft Teams - Poll Details

Once you click Save, the poll can only be viewed by you while it is in “Draft” mode.

Microsoft Teams - Poll

Others will be able to see and interact with the poll once you click “Launch”.

BEWARE: If you give a meeting participant Presenter rights, they will have the ability to delete your poll.  To prevent this, click the Details of the meeting and select the Meeting Options (ellipse).

Microsoft Teams - Meeting Options

Set the option labeled “Who can present?” to “Only me” and click Save.

Microsoft Teams - Meeting Options

Launching a Poll During a Meeting

During the meeting, to launch the poll, click the Polls button at the top of the meeting window.

Microsoft Teams - Polls

At first, only you can see the poll listed on the right side.  The meeting participants will not be able to see the poll until you click the Launch button for the poll.

Microsoft Teams - Poll Response

The meeting participants will see your poll on their screens, and they can interact as requested.

Microsoft Teams - Poll Response

Once a meeting participant selects a response and clicks Submit, the results of the current submissions are displayed.

Microsoft Teams - Poll Results

Tip #2: Use Together Mode

At first blush, the Together Mode feature seems like nothing more than a novelty.

Microsoft Teams - Together Mode

But where it shines is that it allows you to see up to 50 participant’s webcams at the same time, combined into an imaginary environment where it appears everyone is together.

It’s a great way to reduce the fatigue of seeing everyone in isolated boxes.

Microsoft Teams - Together Mode

During a video chat meeting, to enable Together Mode, click the More Actions button (ellipse) and select Together Mode.

Microsoft Teams - Together Mode

If you click the button labeled “Change Scene” in the lower-left of the screen, you can apply different interesting backgrounds.  The numbers in the top-right corners indicate the maximum number of participants that the scene will hold.

Microsoft Teams - Together Mode Select Scene

Tips for the Best Together Mode Experience

For Together Mode to look its best, follow these guidelines for your meeting participants:

  • Ensure the cameras are still and centered. Participating from a handheld device, like a smartphone, will create an odd look with all the shaky movement.
  • Try to place the webcam at the top center of the monitor. Placing the camera low and/or off-center will create strange perspectives
  • Works best when viewed at a minimum on a tablet-sized screen.

Tip #3: Disable Chat During a Meeting

If you find the students being distracted by the chat and not paying attention to the presenter, you can open the Meeting Options and set the “Allow Meeting Chat” option to “Disabled”.

Microsoft Teams - Meeting Options

Microsoft Teams - Disable Chat

Microsoft Teams - Disable Chat

Tip #4: Annotating Your Screen with ZoomIt

ZoomIt is a free app you can download as part of the Microsoft Sysinternals Power Toys package.

Click here to download ZoomIt v 4.52

ZoomIt has been around for almost 15 years and is a great addition to screen presentations.

When launched, the program sits in memory and is activated via a series of hotkeys.

With ZoomIt you can do the following:

  • Annotate your screen with arrows, boxes, text, and freehand drawings
  • Change pen and shape colors
  • Switch to a Whiteboard or a Blackboard
  • Copy the annotated screen to the Clipboard
  • Save the annotated screen as a PNG file
  • Zoom in and out of the screen while maintaining full program usability
  • Display a countdown timer
  • Display an image (great for wallpapers with presentation information while using the countdown timer)

Microsoft Teams - ZoomIt

All excel courses Leila Gharani

Master it ALL!

Whether you're a beginner or advanced Excel user, there is a course for you in our academy

GET ACCESS

Tip #5: Use Two Devices

It is not always apparent to the presenter when things are not looking well from the viewer’s point of view.

Connecting to the meeting from a second device is a great way to monitor the student experience.  It allows you to keep tabs on the in-meeting chats as well as ensure that what you think you are sharing is being seen properly on the other side of the meeting experience.

The steps are simple:

  1. Start the meeting as you normally would.
  2. From a second device (laptop, PC, or tablet) login to Teams with your same account and join the meeting.
  3. Deactivate your microphone and camera to not create audio feedback or distract your audience with multiple video angles of yourself.

Microsoft Teams - Screen Monitoring

Tip #6: Download an Attendance List

While the meeting is active, you can download a list of meeting participants.

To do this, perform the following steps:

  1. Click “Show Participants” at the top of the screen.

Microsoft Teams - Participants Button

  1. Click the Options (ellipse) button and select “Download Attendance List”.

Microsoft Teams - Download Attendance List

This will download an Excel file in a comma-delimited (CSV) format.

Microsoft Teams - Attendance List File

Microsoft Teams - Attendance List Results

Tip #7: Use the Whiteboard

While in the meeting, you can share the Whiteboard with the students to allow them to participate in the meeting.

To share the Whiteboard, click the Share button and select “Microsoft Whiteboard”.

Microsoft Teams - Share Whiteboard

The first time you share the Whiteboard, you are asked if you wish to limit the annotations to only yourself or to allow shared annotations with the group.

Microsoft Teams - Whiteboard Collaboration Settings

If you initially shared the Whiteboard with others and you now wish to restrict that ability to yourself, You can click the gear icon (upper-right) and toggle off the “Other participants can edit” option.

Microsoft Teams - Whiteboard Edit Option

Tip #8: Check Assignment Options

In the selected task, switch to the Assignments section.

Microsoft Teams - Assignments Start Page

If this is the first time you have used this feature, click “Get Started”.

Next, click “Create” and select “Assignment” or “Quiz”.

Microsoft Teams - Create Assignment

You can add the many items to the assignment, such as:

  • Assignment title
  • Assignment description and details
  • File attachments
  • Points value of the assignment
  • Assignment rubric
  • Due Date
  • Assigned to specific people or groups

Microsoft Teams - New Assignment Details

NOTE:  A not-so-obvious option you may wish to change resides behind the Edit button labeled “Don’t assign to students added to this class in the future”.

Microsoft Teams - Assignment Future Students

You can change this option to allow for students added after the assignment was originally posted.

Microsoft Teams - Assignment Future Student Setting

Scheduling the Release of an Assignment

If you click Assign, the assignment will be delivered immediately.

You could click Save and stage the assignment for later release, just remember to return here and perform the actual Assign action.

It may be easier to schedule the assignment for release which would alleviate your responsibility for returning later.

To schedule an assignment for release, click the Edit button labeled “Assignment will post immediately with late turn-ins allowed”.

Microsoft Teams - Assignment Scheduling

From here, you can schedule the assignment for both its release date and its due date.

You can also decide if student postings are allowed after the due date and provide a cutoff date and time.

Microsoft Teams - Assignment Scheduling Options

Assignment Notifications

At the bottom of the New Assignment dialog box, you can select the channel you wish to have the assignment listed.

Microsoft Teams - Assignment Channel

Click Edit to change the assignment posting channel.

Microsoft Teams - Assignment Channel Selection

Tip #9: Update Assignment Settings

Once you have an assignment setup and/or posted, you can adjust the default settings for future assignments.

In the Assignments section, click the Options button (ellipse) and select “Assignment Settings”.

Microsoft Teams - Assignment Settings

You can set options like:

  • Change the due date (time) for all future assignments.
  • Allow new students to receive the assignment if they joined after the assignment’s release.
  • Set the default notifications posting channel.

Microsoft Teams - Assignment Settings

The Fun Stuff provides a humorous animation when they turn in their assignment.

Microsoft Teams - Fun Stuff

Tip #10: Switch Names to Anonymous

When grading student assignments, it’s possible to have your subconscious bias play a role in deciding the value of student answers.

To ensure fairness when viewing a list of student submissions, select Options (ellipse) and click “Hide Student Names”.

Microsoft Teams - Hide Student Names

This will not only hide the names but also shuffle the list in case you may have peeked ahead.

Microsoft Teams - Hide Student Names

The names of the respondents can be redisplayed using the same process as hiding the names.

Learn Excel from a Microsoft MVP

Check out my bestselling Excel Courses

Learn anytime that fits your schedule.

Download files. Practice. Apply.

Visit Courses
Free Tutorials