This week I have been analyzing the engagement strategies I am using at the college level to acronymous and synchronous teach. I’m not going to sugar coat it, and some of you have probably been doing it longer than me, but I’m going to say it anyway, this is HARD work! When I speak to students I’m not sure where to look for starters. Sometimes, I looked at students on Zoom, then I would feel as if I was ignoring the students in front of me. Then I would look at in classroom students, only to see the Zoom students staring at me. I wanted to move! I know that accomplished teachers use space to activate learning, ensure engagement, and to take stock of what is happening in the classroom.
However, if I got up I would have to take time to move the camera, and the camera doesn’t move when I move so it’s stuck in one place. Instead of moving, I broke teaching rule #1 for myself and stayed planted. Here was the other issue I faced, I wanted to break students out into groups, but the feedback was horrendous. While I’m sure there is an easy fix to this. I was stunned at the amount of feedback, then it froze me into inaction. I just did something else instead. So, here is the conclusion I came to at the end of my class, one in which several of you may have already reached some time ago. This teaching gig is difficult. It takes a bank of skills to pull it off. But I also know, as an accomplished teacher, that I am reflective. I wanted to share some strategies that I am going to try the next time to see if they work. 1. The camera can’t be changed unless I do it manually.
So, I’m going to control the effort I put into things because that is all I can control. I’m going to sit sometimes, stand in front of the room sometimes, and move the camera other times. But I want to be systematic about it. 2. When I want to do break out rooms, I think I can shut off the Zoom sound, and ensure all students have headphones. If this doesn’t work, however, I have a back-up plan, because right now a back-up plan is necessary. 3. I’m going to not worry so much about who I’m looking at and when. I’ll have to let this piece go for now anyway. Instead, I have decided I will do a roving shift of vision, such as I would in the classroom.
While these may not fix all of my issues, and I certainly have a host of other things I need to work through, such as better engagement strategies, how to encourage discussion, and increase strategies to encourage student learning instead of student completion. These are a few action steps I can take for now. How about you? What obstacles have you ran into, and what steps have you taken to minimize the issues?