Core scripture: “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” (Deuteronomy 6:6)
Message: The core of any teacher’s classroom is structure and rules. Without a set of easy to read laws posted clearly for all to see and implemented consistently, you can kiss your classroom management goodbye. Now that we are fully immersed in virtual learning through Zoom, any wise teacher knows they must regulate what goes on to provide a safe, productive learning environment.
I have used Zoom now for multiple sessions over the past month. It began with a nightmare first session with my 6th grade boys youth group. Anything that could have gone wrong did go wrong. No rules were in place. The boys were squirrely as all get-out, changing their backgrounds and making faces at the camera. Very little productivity at all. It was then that I realized my mistake of not setting up a list of virtual classroom norms.
Remember how Moses received the 10 Commandments from God? Well, I didn’t see any burning bush, but I definitely went to the Lord in prayer to figure out what to do with Zoom. I have come up with a list of 10 Commandments for Zoom to help the Zoom experience.
- Thou shalt respect thy leader. You are in charge. What you say is law. There will always be a moment when the kids test boundaries, and you need to be able to put the axe to it immediately.
- Thou shalt respect thy classmates. Students should be expected to say only positive things about their classmates, waiting their turn to talk.
- Thou shalt preset thy mute button. You have the power to preset the mute button for any kid joining the session. This will limit background noise and let the students get settled.
- Thou shalt not abuse the chat room. Only positive, encouraging comments are allowed on Zoom chats. Most of the time I do not even use the Zoom chatroom, but if kids ever post there, their thoughts should be appropriate.
- Thou shalt find a quiet place to chat. Tell your students to be away from other distractions like siblings, pets, or other distracting background sounds.
- Thou shalt not change thy background. It will only be a matter of time before your kids realize they can use virtual backgrounds. I let my kids choose ONE appropriate background and stick with it the entire session.
- Thou shalt not change thy name. Once the background situation was in place, the boys found out they can change their name to stuff like, “I just ate my sister.” None of that. I tell them they have to put their real name and leave it.
- Thou shalt use thy mute button. When you are not talking, you should mute yourself. This helps with background noise and feedback that may disrupt what is being said.
- Thou shalt mute those who need to be muted. You have the power to mute any student who is being disrespectful or mischievous. That is something I wish I had in real life!
- Thou shalt not feast during Zoom. No snacking on a bag of chips or takis or whatever while Zoom is in session. Nobody wants to hear the crinkling of the bag or someone talking with food in their mouth.
There you have it. Ten regulations that will help your Zoom experience be that much less of a headache for you. I added a few bonus resources below that you might find helpful. Here they are …
- Zoom etiquette: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/do-the-right-thing/202003/top-10-tips-good-zoom-hygiene-and-etiquette-in-education
- Zoom cheat sheet: https://www.techrepublic.com/article/zoom-a-cheat-sheet-about-the-video-conferencing-solution/
Challenge: Set up a list of norms for your Zoom classroom and adhere to the regulations consistently. Believe me, your Zoom experience will be that much more productive.
Just for fun: Saturday Night Live has a unique way of poking fun about what could go wrong in a Zoom conference. Check it out below:
Prayer: Lord, I pray you will help me virtually connect to students in a positive, productive way through Zoom. May Your glory be seen through it all. Amen.