In our last blog post, we talked about how to create a helpful environment for virtual coaching meetings, but what happens when teachers get “Zoomed out,” or overwhelmed and exhausted by yet another online video meeting?

In this post, we’ll hear from Meagan Morgan, English teacher at Madison High School, as she grapples with the transition to digital learning, and we’ll examine some alternatives to Zoom for teaching and coaching.

One teacher’s story about how virtual learning impacted her in ways she wasn’t expecting

Meagan says, “In these unprecedented times, we all have been pushed into new scenarios, molding ourselves to this
Online learningnew version of virtual learning. As someone who took online graduate school courses, I just assumed this would feel like an easy transition. My classes were already all set up in an online classroom; we had implemented standard practices and expectations for using the virtual classroom throughout the semester; my students had all of the tools they needed to proceed into this terrain of learning. But…I didn’t.

I realize now that much of my joy and energy in teaching comes from the interpersonal day-to-day interactions that occur in the classroom, in the hallways, in the cafeteria. Trying to fill this void with virtual communication platforms like Zoom felt like an obvious replacement for those interactions I was missing from being at school with my students and colleagues.

I now realize that while online learning platforms allow for ‘face-to-face communication,’ it feels much more energy draining. Maybe it’s because they’re new and different, something outside of my realm of practice as a teacher.

Maybe it’s because I have to sit down in front of yet another screen and talk to people in front of their screens, which creates an inherent disconnect that I can’t move beyond.

Maybe it’s just that I miss my kids and my job and feeling their energy in the classroom, good or bad. Maybe it’s my introverted-self coming out and having a hard time doing my job in thespace of my own bedroom. Regardless of the reason, I feel ‘Zoomed out.’

It is understandable that we are all going to face feelings of weariness and a new version of strain during this time. I underestimated the value of the typical proximity I share with my students and colleagues and how that impacts theinner workings of our daily lives at school. With all of this being said, I look forward to the virtual meetings I will have with my students and colleagues each week; I just know now that I will have to practice grace with myself and give myself space to exert this new energy in this new space in this new time.”

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted with virtual teaching, you’re certainly not alone

Meagan’s thoughts about this transition are definitely not uncommon; educators all over the globe have shared their struggles with supporting student learning in such uncertain times. We go into this field because we love kids and enjoy supporting them as they grow, and it’s frustrating to feel such a disconnect from them, especially when we’re feeling so disconnected from the world in general right now. I feel similarly; I’ve been in virtual meetings all week, and I absolutely love seeing my colleagues across the state, but it’s draining for me as well.

Some resources and ideas to help professional educators with the “have another video meeting” feeling

So, when you’re drained from the virtual meetings, what can you do? Below, we’ve compiled a list of alternatives for both teachers and coaches.

Alternatives to video meetings for coaches

  1. Co-planning in Google docs: There’s nothing wrong with working together asynchronously to create lessons and units for students. Check out these coaching questions for co-planning virtual lessons
  2. Modeling and/or co-teaching: If a teacher has been facilitating a class in Zoom, why not let the coach step in? The teacher can turn off the camera, and take notes on how the students are interacting and learning.
  3. Sharing grading responsibilities: This is a great opportunity to examine assessment strategies. Make the coach a co-teacher in Google classroom or Canvas (or whatever platform you’re using) and do some co-grading. Then swap a few assignments and see if you graded similarly; why or why not? You can also utilize the collaborative assessment protocol to ask and answer questions about student work.

Alternatives to video meetings for teachers

  1. FlipGrid: Students make videos and post them then respond with videos to their peers. It’s like a class discussion/discussion board, but through video clips. You can really delve into students’ thoughts and see their direct feedback to others’ ideas. Here’s a quick tutorial.
  2. NoRedInk: This site has opened up a lot of their sources for free. They have a guided writing practice that walks students through a lesson of specific writing tools. Then it allows teachers to grade their product according to a predetermined rubric, which the students can also see prior to finalizing their composition.
  3. Google Voice: Students are able to text directly to their teacher’s phone, but do not have access to their teacher’s actual number. This also allows teachers to call parents if need be.
  4. Quizlet Live: The favorite online game can now be played by individuals at home.
  5. Backchannel Chat: Free for up to 30 students, moderate a backchannel discussion board so students can ask questions and collaborate.

Share your ideas and resources with us

These are just a few ideas to bring some variety to your new virtual teaching practices and to avoid becoming “Zoomed out.” In education, we are a community that shares, so feel free to post your ideas in the comments section below.