by Janet Mizrahi
I am writing to you because after teaching on Zoom for two terms, I am having a hard time. Like you, I’d prefer if we were in class where we could get to know each other and be less formal. But that is not to be, and I need your help to keep going. I love my job, and I know what I teach is valuable, but it’s getting more and more difficult to deliver captivating and motivating lectures when I can see my students being inattentive. I once had a student “attend” class while she waited in line at In-N-Out Burger, ordered her meal, and then ate it!
It didn’t feel good. It kind of sapped my will to teach.
So I ask you to look at class sessions from my perspective for a moment and consider some Zoom etiquette I’ve listed below.
Attend class in a quiet location. Being in a quiet spot will help you focus on our class and not the household background noise.
Adjust your camera so your face appears.I’m not an actor who is used to performing to a camera or greenscreen. I am a teacher who enjoys engaging with her students. If you use a still image instead of showing your face, I have no idea what you are thinking or even whether you are present. It makes me sad.
Mute your microphone. Background noise is distracting to me as well as to you. Mute your microphone so I won’t hear your roommates, parents, or pets.
Focus on class activities. Pretend you’re me looking at a bunch of squares on a computer screen. Some faces are laughing (are you laughing at me?), some are talking to others, some just disappear for long stretches. Act as if you’re in a real classroom and don’t look at social media feeds, chat with your roommate, or eat a meal. Focus on what you’re in class to learn.
Snack discreetly. If you must eat, be discreet and maintain your focus on what’s happening in class.
Install an unobtrusive virtual background. I would rather not see your messy bedroom, if possible.
Wear clothes. Not just for me, but for you. Wearing PJs doesn’t put you in the frame of mind to learn.
With heartfelt thanks,
Thanks to John Atkinson for his permission to use his drawing, Every virtual meeting.