Updated: Dec 9, 2020
These are intriguing times. We are being asked to learn, teach, and provide parental support, in a totally new way! Over the last few months, I have participated in and provided, live sessions using Zoom and Google Meet. They can be exhausting or invigorating depending on how I set myself up! Establishing my optimal learning environment has been key to my success! Here are some tips to pass along to families trying to navigate virtual live sessions.
Tips for Students in Live Sessions
Dedicate a Learning Space It is easier to remain engaged in the session if the camera is on, so setting up a dedicated workspace that is comfortable and quiet is important. Check and double-check what is in the background of the room to make sure the camera can be used without being embarrassed. Generally, my pup will wake up at some point and wander around, but he is cute so it works.
Have Supplies Nearby Make sure to have everything necessary to fully participate in the session; this could include a pencil, paper, a glass of water, or having Slides or a Google Doc open for notes.
Remove Distractions If possible put your phone in a place that is out of reach so you are not tempted.
Bookmark It! Make sure to have the correct link ahead of time for your virtual classroom, whether it is Zoom, Meet, or Teams. It helps to bookmark the live session link or keep a document with all the links listed to stay organized.
Don't forget that these live session programs may need to do updates once in a while, and sometimes they take some time. I have been fully prepared for a Zoom, when all of a sudden it decides to update, ugh! To avoid this, check for updates every once in a while - not right before a class session.
Tips for Parents in Live Sessions
Ask Questions Now, the session is over, what was learned? Asking specific questions as follow up is a great way to determine if your learner was paying attention. Try to avoid being too general; for example, “do you have any questions?” be more specific and reference the content.
Join the Session Parents who have always wanted to see what your kiddo is doing in class now is your chance! Sit in on a live session to see how they work! We are all in this together and communication is the key.
Establishing and communicating the expectations for live classes, and recognizing limitations, will go a long way in setting everyone up for virtual success. The best advice I can offer to teachers, students, and parents would be: when in doubt, ASK! We are all in this together!
Tracy Rains is a Virtual Learning Specialist for Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8, Google Certified Educator, and CK-12 Certified Educator. In her role at IU8, Tracy provides teacher professional development and supports school districts with students in virtual programs. She also helps to lead the state initiative in utilizing Open Education Resources.