For some of us this will be week #9 of online teaching.
Are your eyes going batty yet? I know mine are.
I’m reaching out this week to help you up your Zoom game.
Although there is no way to replicate the energy, enthusiasm and excitement of the classroom, there is a way to make Zoom meetings more engaging and fun. These tips are borrowed from the tweets, conversations, and personal anecdotes I have gathered from the last 9 weeks of remote learning.
Here are five things NOT to do.
#1: Use Zoom Meetings To Deliver Content
Let’s face it, there are better ways to deliver content. There are Youtube videos that wickedly talented producers put together with a budget far greater than ours. Kids eat these things up. Let them deliver your content.
Use Zoom meetings to CONNECT. Send videos, readings, and assignments out ahead of time and use Zoom time for further conversation and to create a shared working environment.
#2: Make them last more than 45 minutes
Your kids have a short attention span. It’s even shorter without the socialization and buzz of the classroom. Too often we (me included) make the mistake of cramming too many priorities in each class meeting that we forget why we had them in the first place.
Keep them short. Structure them with a short icebreaker or brain activation, some quick connections/ check-ins, sharing of student work, and a brief discussion of assignment hick-ups.
#3: Run a SlideDeck or Powerpoint
If Johnny’s camera was off at the beginning of the meeting, once the slideshow starts, you can be sure he’s already in the other room playing fortnight on his brother’s computer. That’s because oftentimes our slideshows don’t involve Johnny. They involve us reading from a screen.
Construct learning together. Show a picture of something related to your content that peaks their interest. Ask each student to identify what they observe. Then share the deeper concept.
#4: Start the Meeting with Information
In our classrooms, we are taught to start with learning objectives, but in a Zoom meeting, you only have around 20 seconds to capture their attention. Rather than begin class outlining the objectives for the meeting,
Start with an activity they don’t want to miss. My kids love ‘Would you Rather.’ ‘Would you rather have spiders coming out of your nose, or snakes from your ears?’ The grosser the better. Or try a creative story pass. One student begins the story with a phrase and then passes it to a peer in another window to give the next line. You could run greetings the same way.
#5: Try to do Everything Yourself
When I first started online meetings with students, I tried to do everything on my own. One hand would type notes into the chat box while the other swiped the screen to review the agenda; meanwhile, my eyes were busy scanning student windows to ensure they were focused. I thought I was a superstar; in reality, I was one step away from a nervous breakdown.
Try sharing ownership of the meeting with the class. Let one student serve as notetaker; another to keep track of time; and a third to serve as ‘lead teacher.’ Not only will you find students more attentive and attuned, but it will free you up to help facilitate the process and better serve students who require additional support.
How do you engage and empower your learners in online class meetings?
I would love to share your strategies and insights with the educators I serve.
To further serve creative and innovative educators like yourself, this week I am running small PLC ‘sprints’ to help you better engage and empower remote learners. The PLCs are 10 person groups that meet online to gain new strategies, share best practice and overcome challenges together. Enrollment in the PLC includes access to online tutorials, weekly coaching calls, and a community portal. You can learn more about the PLC here.
The ‘sprints’ last 4 weeks.
As one PLC cohort is already full, I am opening up another cohort on Thursday from 5-6 pm Asia Time, and one Thursday 5-6 pm PST. If you are interested in joining, email me and I can tell you how to reserve your spot.
Have a great week engaging and empowering your remote learners!
Your virtual student engagement coach,