Over the past few months, I have begun to use Zoom lessons to help students reach their English language goals. Since the Corona virus restrictions started, I have been doing one-one online sessions but last night was the first session with a group of learners.
Usually I try and remember students’ names but that wasn’t a problem as their names are all spelled out on screen. I am really into rapport building so that the students and I can feel comfortable and I can build trust. So, I arrived early and was happy to see faces appear on screen. I asked them how they felt about the lock down and where they were from. This helped to put them at ease and build that safe space to communicate. The students were told that they can communicate with me (using gestures and/or the chat function in Zoom) and to let me know if I had forgotten to unmute my mike or if they needed clarification.
Using Breakout Rooms
One practice task was for the students to interview me and for this I was going to put them in groups in the breakout room to write questions to grill me. This is a 3 click process in Zoom if you randomly allocate the groups.
I think it is important to monitor the students while they were in the rooms by joining them and checking that they understood the task and also that they were engaged. I also gave them a countdown as to when they would be called back to the main session.
Technical Issues That I Had to Solve
· If your face freezes because of your internet connection, turn your video off and on quickly.
· If you want to swap groups round so that they are with different people in the rooms then this can be done by clicking Options on the left and rearranging the groups.
· If you are in the breakout room and you want to end the session you can change how long it takes to close the room.
I was worried that the group sessions on Zoom would be very teacher led but because the students had had thinking time in the breakout rooms, they came up with some very probing questions which helped build rapport between us, everyone was smiling and this helped to break the tension.
I hope these insights have given you some food for thought in your approach to teaching.
Julian Siret (Louth English.)