Virtual learning has become a norm for many households around the world, and whether your kid is going the distance for the rest of the school year or is on a hybrid learning environment, it’s always good to have a check-in about the do’s and don’ts of “Zoom etiquette.”
1. Be prepared. Just like any class at school, it's important to have all of your materials ready to go. For virtual school, that means you'll need to know the link, what time you need to be there and what books or printouts you'll need. Get your pencils sharpened in advance so you can be totally prepared to listen when the teacher comes on.
2. Be on time. Let's not waste the teacher's time. Be on time for your class meetings (or even a few minutes early). It's a good idea to test out the class link in advance of your call time, so you know that it works and your system is up and running. Print out your class schedules and post them on your wall as a reminder. Set an alarm (or ask a parent to do that) if you have a hard time remembering when to log on.
3. Learn how to use the virtual classroom program. Whether you are using Zoom, Google Classroom, WebEx or another program, it's important to know how it works. Learn how to enter the virtual classroom, mute and unmute yourself, turn off your camera and shut down the program. Is there a chat that you need to use? A way to indicate you are raising your hand? Find this out before the class starts.
4. Use headphones with a mic. It's easier for the class to hear from you when you need to talk if you are wearing headphones with an external microphone. Also, headphones will help you block out the distractions around you.
5. Stay in one spot during your call. Resist the urge to head to the kitchen for a snack or take your class meeting outside. It's distracting to your classmates to see you moving around during the class. Find a quiet spot where you will be comfortable for the whole class and make it your classroom spot. Remember, you are in class so lounging on your bed is not a good option. Sit at a desk or your kitchen table so you can have more focus.
6. Dress the part. While school uniforms aren't required for virtual schooling, you do want to make sure you look presentable for class. Change out of your pajamas (unless it is official pajama day), brush your hair and teeth and look presentable. Make sure any shirt you are wearing doesn't have any offensive graphics or text on it. Think about what you'd wear to school and dress accordingly.
7. Eliminate distractions. Keep in mind that class time is class time even when you are at home. Don't snack or chew gum during class. Turn off the music or the TV in the background. If you need to use the restroom, try to do that before class starts. Don't text or play on your cell phone during the class meeting.
8. Skip the virtual backgrounds. While some programs have fun options to add a virtual background, that can be super distracting to the other students. Unless your teacher has requested it, skip it. Also, it's good to clean up your room or sit in front of a blank wall to keep the mess to a minimum.
9. Wait for your turn. It's tough enough for teachers to manage a class when you are there in the same room. Virtual classes add a whole other challenge. Follow the teacher's instructions for volunteering and don't blurt out an answer unless you are called on. It can be a good idea to raise your hand instead of interrupting so that the teacher can finish the instructions before you jump in.
10. Remember, this is school. While it might be exciting to see your friends (finally!), this is not the time or place to chat about Minecraft or what you had for breakfast. If your virtual classroom has a chat feature, stay out of it unless the teacher requests students use it. Chat is public to everyone in the class (including the teacher), and it can be distracting.
11. Respect your teachers! This is the most important rule of all! Respect your teachers and all the work they have done to teach you in the virtual classroom. This might be a challenge for them too; we are all learning together. Make sure they know how much you appreciate them. The best way to do this is with good behavior in the virtual classroom (and gift cards don't hurt either!).
Featured photo: GSCSNJ via Flickr