What does the first day of school with online learning look like? Your impulse may be to think about replicating the first-day activities from in-person learning, but what works face-to-face doesn’t necessarily translate well online. Here are some Zoom teaching tips for the first day of online school.
1. Create a good first impression. We all know first impressions matter, perhaps even more so than anything else the teacher does in the course. To start, teachers could post their bio before the first meeting and ask students to do the same. This will allow teachers and students to see who is in the classroom community. Then, on the first day of class, teachers can enable “waiting room” on Zoom, and as students enter, greet them with a smile and welcome them by name. This can help make students feel seen even virtually. Then, teachers should begin the community building process by getting students to talk. Do a 15-second introduction, asking students to share something simple about themselves. If you can only do one of these Zoom teaching tips, it should be this one.
2. Start the course off on the right foot. This is the teacher’s chance to set the tone for the entire course. Using a visual to accompany text or narration can have a positive effect on a student’s experience in online learning, so instead of using the syllabus to lead the course overview, create a visual aid to highlight the course structure, design, and assignments. Additionally, transparency and clarity are incredibly important, so be sure to cover learning goals, how the assignments fit into those learning goals and contribute to students’ learning, and how students will receive feedback and be assessed. To activate prior knowledge, assign students to read the syllabus before the first meeting.
3. Generate guidelines. Zoom may be our new normal, so what behaviors or interactions do we want to see? Teachers could create a set of rules and convey those directly to students or collaboratively generate them with students. Some questions to consider while coming up with these guidelines could be: Should cameras be optional? What kinds of questions are allowed to be asked during the call? What behaviors should we establish to promote a positive learning experience?
4. End on a positive note. Like first impressions, endings also matter. If students leave with a smile on their face, they’re more likely to come back for more. One way to conclude is to showcase projects from former students who’ve taken the same class. This strategy not only highlights the value of the class assignments, but also helps generate curiosity early on. Another option is to share feedback from former students. This is an opportunity to de-stress students, emphasizing flexibility and partnership in their learning process. Teachers could also end the class with a student questionnaire to let students know they’re interested in building meaningful connections.
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