Teaching Zoom

Teaching online isn’t an innovation. In fact many people have been learning English online for years. However, recent events really forced us all to adapt and use new technology.

I think it is safe to say that many people adapted to the new situation fairly quickly and only with some minor issues. I was 29 at the time and even though I was familiar with how everything works, there were moments when I felt as I can only imagine my grandpa feels when asked to check his text messages. That’s why I fully understood the pain of all of my adult online students that I had a pleasure teaching during CELTA 100% online.

I was teaching students with the average age of 50 years old. To be fair, they were quite good with technology for the most part, but there were moments that on top of trying to give the best teaching performance, we needed to give technical support too!

The course was a success and I was able to go back into classroom in September. The only thing is…I had to learn how to teach hybrid classes (a completely different story). Nevertheless, the course made me realise the importance of understanding the software before starting learning English. This is the reason why I came up with a short and basic “ZOOM tutorial” lesson plan that can be used after your first few lessons when you already get the feeling of your students and their knowledge of technology.

A quick check-list before you go any further! Make sure that before you commit to being an online teacher, you check these three boxes:

1. Learn how to use ZOOM yourself

I think this point is quite self-explanatory. I decided to prepare a lesson plan on ZOOM because this is the program that I am most familiar with and in my humble opinion, it is probably the best right now. You should ask your students beforehand and check what programs they know and possibly go with the majority, or choose a program that you are most confident with!

2. Check the connection speed

This is one thing that I learnt during CELTA application. Every student needed to do the internet speed test and if the connection was lower than 50 Mbps, then well…sorry. A lagging student, or worse, a lagging teacher is going to hold everyone back and taking into account your limited time and the fact that your students pay for these lessons, it is essential to provide a good quality service and an overall experience.

3. Use computers ONLY

I understand that this isn’t always a reality, but if everyone uses ZOOM on their computers, you will feel the difference! Everyone can share their screens, send and receive files, annotate…You can make it a general rule, but make sure to stay flexible just in case. You want to be professional but also on the go.

Now we are ready for the tutorial lesson! The lesson should be done with adults and only after you are sure that any additional help with the program is needed. A lesson plan and all the worksheets are available to download for free at the end of the post!

Start the class by a How well do you know ZOOM? questionnaire. This will already put your students’ ZOOM knowledge into the test, as they will have to follow your instructions to enter the breakout rooms. Students work in pairs or groups of three, ask and answer questions about the software. At the end students decide how proficient they think they are. When they are busy working without you, you can go into ninja mode. This means you mute yourself, switch off your camera and hide all non-video participants. Then you can go from one room to another and check how everything is going. Once you finish this activity, you can get a general feedback or discuss the main points.

This class focuses on watching a video A participants guide to ZOOM. Before watching introduce your students to basic ZOOM and functions of each button, follow by watching the video (possibly twice) to check the answers to the gap-fill and true or false exercises. This should help your students with the basics and also will give you the ease of mind knowing that your students actually watched that tutorial you asked them to.

In my classes I like to use the whiteboard and screen annotations, so I decided to include a short whiteboard tutorial. This is followed by a fun interactive activity where students race each other to annotate the screen – write, stamp, draw…and so on.

The class ends with a discussion. Divide your students into two groups – one discussing advantages and the other disadvantages of online learning. Then mix your students to present their points to each other. Once everyone is back to the main room, give your students some time to think how online classes can be improved. As this class was all about speaking, ask your students to write their answers in the chat. One or two sentences are enough, it will let you assess their use of ZOOM but also their writing level.

Finally, go back to the main point of the questionnaire from the lead in How proficient are you at ZOOM? You can send it as a poll to show another interesting ZOOM feature and see how the answers changed during this one hour class!

All the files needed to complete this lesson are available for free below!