What are Student Best Practices in Microsoft Teams?

Online classes are becoming more popular! Microsoft Teams is an online group collaboration software that can be accessed anywhere and on nearly every device. Microsoft Teams is used to help students and teachers work together remotely.  

Microsoft Teams works like an online classroom environment. It allows you to work effectively online with others, alongside Microsoft Office and other integrated apps. You can take advantage of various features like team meetings, private calls, assignments, shared content, and one-note classrooms.

Getting used to using teams is more than just about submitting your classwork- it is learning essential digital skills of the future workplace.

How to Get Started with Microsoft Teams

Getting started with Microsoft Teams is very simple. Follow the eight basic steps to get started:

  1. First, you need to visit the Microsoft Teams sign-up website and sign up for free or log in if you already have a Microsoft account.
  2. Follow the simple steps to set up your Team.
  3. Click the Download the Windows app button when it pops up, or visit the download page.
  4. Run the installer for Microsoft Teams and sign in to your Microsoft account.
  5. Click Continue when cued by the Welcome to Teams message.
  6. You’ll have several tooltips pop up that will explain how channels, chat, and meetings work.
  7. The tab on the left side is used to quickly alternate between your teams, notifications, files, and your private conversations.
  8. If you want to join a team, ask your teacher for an invitation link. Enter your details and then click Send request. Once the request has been approved, log into Microsoft Teams, and you’ll be able to click on the dropdown box to access the Team.


Microsoft Teams for Education offers specific team types for educational purposes and comes with distinctive features that support online classroom needs such as:

  • Activity– the activity icon shows you your latest notifications. It displays a summary of everything recently, such as new information added and by whom. You can communicate with your teacher and collaborate with your peers. You can share resources or links that may be useful here too.
  • Chat– allows you to chat one-to-one with your teacher, another student, or a small group. (Many schools turn this feature off for students, so do not be surprised if it doesn’t work).
  • Teams– displays the teams you have joined or have been added to by your teachers. You will have a team allocated to each class. You may have one Team with your year’s classes or a bunch of teams for each subject.

You will have the following tabs available in your selected Team:

  • Files– access one drive; all files already added to Teams and ones you are currently working on will be present in Files.
  • Assignments– include tasks and assignments with detailed requirements and due dates.
  • Grades– assignments and test results will be displayed under grades.
  • OneNote classroom notebook– Your projects can be completed on this platform without the use of other apps.
  • Class material folder– for securing read-only content for students
  • Insights– to provide real-time data regarding student’s engagement, assignments, and well-being for each classroom.

Introducing your new virtual classroom. A short video worth watching:

Joining and Participating in a Microsoft Teams Meeting

  • You can easily join online meetings set up by teachers by using Microsoft Teams Meetings. Your teacher will set up a meeting including a scheduled date and time. You will receive an invitation with a joining code or link to attend beforehand.
  • Try to join the scheduled meeting a few minutes early to make sure everything is working properly. Remember to mute all your other devices and apps that might send distracting notifications. Enter all meetings with your mic muted and your camera off. Other students may already be engaging in conversations.
  • Keep your mic muted unless you are leading the meeting or need to ask a question. In Microsoft Teams, only a limited number of windows will display the attendees. They automatically show or hide individuals based on who is talking.
  • If the background noises of other team members are distracting, you can mute those on call who are not talking.
  • Use background blur to limit distractions.
  • Use the chat window. Consider asking your questions in the chat window. To tag the teacher or other students in the chat window, use the @ mention command when your comment is directed towards a specific person.
  • Microsoft Meetings include participating and accessing audios, videos, virtual whiteboards, shared notes, and shared content.
  • Once the meeting ends, you’ll be able to share and rewatch the recordings. You will also have access to the meeting notes, and you can follow up in the meeting chat if you have other questions or need additional information.

Chat, Work, Collaboration, and Sharing Files

Meetings are a great place to engage and get everybody up to date, but most of your collaborative work will take place within your Team chat channels.

In each chat channel, team members can share links to Microsoft Office documents. In addition, they can share other content such as images, videos, and attachments. To mention other users, team members can use the @mention command. All shared content and chat messages are stored online. You can quickly access them by scanning back through past conversations, or students can bookmark important messages.

If you want to add more detail to your chats, click the format button to access more editing options.

Each member can have individual private chats or calls with other members on Microsoft Teams. Private chats simplify working together on tasks and reaching out to others individually for different purposes.

Tips for Team Conversations

  • Use the Like (i.e., thumbs up) icon to acknowledge that you have received and read messages instead of cluttering the chat with acknowledgment messages. There are also reaction icons that you could use to show more sentiment or emotion on a message or chat (i.e., symbols for laughing, love, wow, sad, or anger).
  • Be sure not to mix up. Start a conversation with Reply to a conversation/chat. It may not be easy to recover from replying to a post when you accidentally start a new discussion.
  • Keep all your messages concise. For example, if you need to send a long message, upload a separate document in the Files tab and refer to your file uploaded in the chat.
  • Keep your chats organized by using subject lines; it will ease finding information later on.
  • If the chat you sent is urgent, mark your chat with the “! “Button.
  • Be polite! It is really easy for jokes to be misunderstood and backfire and for people to take offense from your messages.

Integrated Apps

Microsoft Teams allows its users to add app integrations to their teams, for example, Freehand and Zoom. Freehand- users can access a virtual whiteboard to showcase images, explain details, or participate in a class activity while participating in the Microsoft Team meeting or chat. Or, if you need to contact someone through Zoom, you can easily use the Zoom integration without leaving Microsoft Teams whatsoever.

Safety Tips

  • If you are recording a meeting, make sure everyone on the call is aware.
  • Do not make meetings public; it’s best to avoid unwanted guests.
  • Do not share unrestricted social media posts or unrestricted platform links onto Microsoft Teams
  • Do not share any confidential information in online meetings.


Understanding how to use Microsoft Teams will not only help you with your classwork, but it will be a great digital skill to have in your future workplace. So take the time to sit down and familiarize yourself with the simple best practices of Microsoft Team.


Microsoft Teams best practice guidelines | Information and Communication Technology Services (uct.ac.za)

(480) How to use Microsoft Teams – YouTube

What Is Microsoft Teams & How Does It Work? (helpdeskgeek.com)

msteams-student.pdf (usf.edu)

Glen Brown

I am a Technical Trainer and Manager with over 20 years experience in IT, Education and Business. I have multiple qualifications on each topic including post graduate qualifications. I have a passion for sharing knowledge and using technology to do this. If you would like to know more about me please see the about page of the website.

Recent Posts