COVID-19: Zoom Tips

EVERYONE is using Zoom now. It works well for all types of meetings, but there are some features of Zoom which are especially useful for teachers and students.

It’s only day two of my remote teaching journey, but I’ve gathered a bunch of tips from my coworkers, students, and friends.

Meeting Settings

  • The name, description, time, duration, and recurring status of your meeting will probably depend on what works best for your school. For us, we decided to make a single “meeting” for each teacher which actually runs all day. I only sign into mine when I am teaching a class or meeting with students for help after class.
  • For audio and video settings, you’re definitely going to want to see and hear the kids – I’ve used a lot of “thumbs up or down” checks about seeing or hearing things from me the past two days.
  • “Enable join before host” is actually incredibly useful – just this morning my internet died two minutes before class, but another teacher was able to join my meeting and cover for me until I got my connection back.
  • You DON’T want to “Enable waiting room” – this won’t let the students join until you are there, which actually causes more issues than you think it might solve.

Chat Settings

  • Unless you have incredibly well-behaved classes, you’re probably going to want to set the chat settings to “Host only.” It might be tempting to set it to “No one,” but it actually is super useful to use the chat feature when you can’t hear a specific student.

Managing Participants

  • This is where you really get to do classroom management. You can mute and stop the video of specific students. I haven’t had to use this feature as a disciplinary measure yet, but it’s a good option to have. The main thing I would suggest, especially if you teach larger classes, is to NOT allow students to rename themselves.

Using a Document Camera

  • Connect your doc cam to your laptop (many are USB now) and switch between this and your face using the ^ options next to the “Stop Video” with the video camera image, OR do what a friend of mine recommended:
  • Your document camera image will probably appear mirrored – DON’T worry, it’s actually not mirrored for your students! And if you’re really unsure, just ask them. It’s a little disorienting to move things around in reverse, but you’ll get used to it. Also, I’ve found I need to zoom in more than usual when projecting my doc cam in a regular class.
  • DON’T have autofocus on for your doc cam. This is actually a good tip for regular doc cam usage. You can usually disable autofocus by clicking and holding the focus button on the device. This prevents the camera from incessantly focusing on the paper, then your writing hand, then your paper, then back again.
  • I also find it useful to pin your video and have the students also pin yours when using the doc cam. But I prefer gallery view when I’m just talking.

Sharing Your Screen

  • This is an easy enough feature to use. I haven’t tried the whiteboard or iPhone options yet. My main suggestion is to make the window of your document/shared webpage as large as possible or full screen – Zoom will fill the rest of the students’ screens with black space.
  • Also be warned that screen share forces Zoom to be full size on the students’ screens, so they won’t easily be able to do other things while you are sharing – this could be a good or potentially a bad thing.
  • AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: double check before you share that screen – are your texts up? Is your email open? Your gradebook? Take the extra few seconds to check it before you share.

Showing YouTube Videos

  • Netflix does not work via screen share on Zoom. On your host side, it will look like it’s working, but the participants will just see a black screen.
  • YouTube on the other hand DOES work, but it can be laggy. The best way to fix this is to make sure “Share computer sound” and “Optimize Screen Share for Video Clip” are both clicked. You will have to talk louder when these options are clicked, but it does make YouTube usable.

Please share any of YOUR tips with me or let me know if I got anything incorrect!

Wishing you health, safety, and happiness,


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