*This is the story of a teacher’s first experience using Zoom to conduct an online lesson.*
Preparing for the lesson
Her first lesson is at 10am. She makes sure the invites to the session are sent to all students, parents and the headteacher. She also has to upload the powerpoint and activities to the school’s online learning platform so students can also have access to it. Once it's uploaded, it then has to be shared to each student because otherwise, let’s be real, they won’t check it.
Once that is all finished, she opens the teaching materials on her computer so they are ready, she also closes all windows that would have any personal information or be about her personal life. She does this because part of online learning requires her to share her screen and, to be safe rather than sorry, she only has the essential tabs open on her screen.
And so it begins…
She begins her Zoom lesson and waits for the students to log on. As they slowly appear one by one she casually chats with them. She asks how online learning has been going and for any other updates they’d like to share, just like she would do in her own classroom.
Once everyone is there, chaos ensues. She struggles to manage the noise of multiple pre-teens talking over her once carefully planned lesson. Everyone is chatting at the same time, some are doing Tik-Tok dances and others are showing us their pets on their screen. And as sweet as this catch-up session is, we do have to stay on task.
However, the issue of speaking while someone is speaking is especially apparent when you’re online; sounds are in competition with each other and it’s hard for others to listen. She is drowned out by the students who have all decided to talk to each other at the same time.
Once she finally has some sort of handle of the lesson, she checks in on the work they’ve been doing. And then the doodling begins. They have figured out how to draw on the screen. And the real problem is, she has no idea who is actually doing it. When she asks the person who is doodling to stop, she is met with “I swear guys, it isn’t me!”…from all students.
Regain control woman!
She tries to bring it back by asking whoever it is to stop and she tries not bringing any more attention to the doodler…maybe they’ll stop. They didn’t. But she did manage to get some others to focus. Small victory! She asks again about the work that was posted last week. She quickly realizes that there are many kinks in this system they still need to iron out. Some students are still struggling on how to use use the online portal, how to upload their work or even find the online portal itself.
Most of the lesson ends up being a demonstration on where to find the work in the first place and how to upload it, since no one had actually completed it. Deep breaths. She reminds herself as stressed, overwhelmed and confused she is trying wrap her head around the beast that is online learning, the students must be feeling the same, if not worse.
Take aways from the experience
The lesson ends and she feels like her head is on backwards. She realizes that she has to come to terms with the fact that online learning is not the same as classroom learning. Lessons will have to be different, activities will have to be adapted and assignments are harder to manage. There are many things to consider she hasn’t thought about and she needs to find patience with herself as well as her students.
She also recognizes that when doing things remotely, being as clear and concise as possible is essential. It is easy for students to be distracted and confused when they are at home. She is definitely not an expert at this and this is a huge learning experience for both her and her students. Obviously there will be bumps along the way.
All of this to say: this is a hard time for everyone. Something as routinely as school is not even a routine anymore. This is the time to adapt and overcome. Use this experience to learn alongside your students because you’re all in this together.
Written by Caity Zagar