Whether you are distance learning full-time or using a hybrid approach, chances are you’ll be Zooming! Zoom has been used for class meetings and staff meetings. These Zoom tips for teachers will ensure that you have a successful school year.
Once you sign up for Zoom, there are two options to schedule a meeting. Which of these options you choose depends on the purpose of your meeting.
Personal Meeting Rooms
Your personal meeting link never changes. You can use this personal meeting room for staff or PLC meetings or office hours. If you host any training or collaboration sessions with fellow teachers, this is the best link to use! Passwords and waiting rooms are automatically set in Zoom right now, so if someone enters your Zoom room when you are not available, they won’t be admitted. You may also choose to use this option if you have one class section.
Scheduling a Meeting
The other option to set up a meeting is to schedule a unique (or recurring) meeting. This is the best option to use if you have multiple classes. If you use the personal meeting link, students may drop in during your other classes. Even though you have the waiting room option set, it can still be frustrating to keep track of which kids are in which section, especially at the beginning of the year when you’re getting to know your students names and faces.
Zoom Tips for Teachers: Settings
Basic Security Settings
When you click the “settings” option, you’ll see an overwhelming amount of possible security measures. Here are the main ones you want to pay attention to.
With the new Zoom updates, this option is automatically selected. This option places your students (or staff members) in a waiting room. The host must admit them as they enter the waiting room. If an unknown participant enters, you can decline their entry. This is one reason I tell students they must always enter with their first name and at least last initial. If you keep this option set, participants are not able to join before the host.
This is also another option that is automatically selected with the updates. When Zoom came on in full force a few months ago, there were Zoom bombers that were crashing meetings even with kids! This can be avoided by requiring a password and enabling the waiting room.
Additional Meeting Settings
Some other important settings don’t necessarily focus on security, but they’re extremely helpful when hosting your meeting.
I prefer to start meetings with both the host and participant videos on. This alleviates the, “Sally, turn on your camera” conversation that inevitably happens. Bonus: you get to see the smiling faces of your students or colleagues on camera!
When meeting with adults, it’s usually fine to leave the private chat feature on. However, when you’re meeting with students, this can be very distracting. Leave it off, and when you’re in the meeting choose to allow students to chat with “Everyone” or just the host. This means any message sent will be seen by all or just you if they select to message only the host. This may be helpful when you have a larger class to allow for more participation. Rather than having all the students unmute, you can have them post their answers in the chat.
One special setting is screen share. You may choose to set it up that just you (the host) may share their screen, or you can allow all participants to share. If you are hosting a Zoom meeting with multiple students, I recommend leaving the screen share to host only. However, if you are participating in a collaboration meeting with staff or meeting with a student or parent one on one, it may be better to allow screen share for all attendees. This setting can also be changed during the meeting.
Have you ever been in a meeting and had students randomly start drawing on the screen? Change the meeting setting to “only the user that is sharing may annotate”. This will save you a lot of stress and correcting behavior during meetings. Even in staff meetings, there isn’t a reason for the non-screen sharer to draw on the screen.
If you have multiple teachers in a virtual class, consider turning on the breakout rooms setting. You may choose to have students randomly assigned to rooms, or you could differentiate and assign rooms based on abilities or students that work well together.
Enabling virtual backgrounds is not only fun, it’s what’s best for kids! Some students may not feel comfortable showing their home learning space. That’s OK! Even teachers can have a blast appearing from Mars when teaching about the solar system or at the base of a volcano when you’re studying volcanic eruptions.
Other Zoom Tips for Teachers
The preceding tips talk about how to use Zoom settings, but there are other zoom tips for teachers that will help you use Zoom to support your students.
Connect and Collaborate
Rather than always using Zoom to present new content, try it to connect and collaborate with your students. Use Zoom to play games like Kahoot or Quizizz. Play a round of “Show and Tell” where students share something important to them. Just take some time to chat with the class about how they are feeling. Building community can go a long way to help classroom behaviors online.
One of my favorite ways to share lessons on Zoom is to allow students to view a screencast of the lesson (or a video from another resource) before the Zoom, then have them come on for a live Q & A. This saves time watching the lesson together (although you could certainly review parts if students have questions and need to see it again). Your students will appreciate having more time for questions without rushing through at the end of a meeting.
If you have families that need additional support, set up some time to Zoom. It’s helpful for parents to “see” you and know that you’re available. Keep office hours that work for you and your family rather than opening up Zoom for meetings 24-7. Protect your time, but also show families you are there for them.
These Zoom tips for teachers will help your students and colleagues have a successful school year. Even if online learning is just happening part time, your learners will be happy to “see” your face, learn, and build community via Zoom!