You Won’t Believe What I Saw on Zoom…
February 2, 2021
February 2, 2021
Teaching online during COVID-19 has been fraught with challenges and stressful for all. But it’s also had its lighter moments, in a time when we could all use a few smiles.
Distance learning has given Virginia educators a new and unique window into the lives of their students—and, in some cases, they’re seeing things through that window they didn’t necessarily expect to witness.
For the most part, teachers’ peeks into students’ homes have been entertaining in a positive way, often hilariously. Teachers say they’ve never met so many siblings and pets, and one Shenandoah Valley educator may have saved lives after hearing the intermittent beeping of a smoke detector in need of new batteries led to getting the family to change them.
Here, with no names used in order to protect the guilty and the innocent, are some samples of life in Zoom-World, all shared by Virginia educators.
Checking the Boxes
One day, I logged on with my fourth-graders and one of them was sitting in a giant refrigerator box. When I asked him why, he said, “This just feels right today.” Soon, all my students were looking for boxes to sit in.
Moms Don’t Miss a Thing…
One day I was in class teaching a group of students at school and set up the Zoom for my at-home students to join in. When one student chimed in from on screen, her brother was in the background putting on his pants. Well, their mom is a paraprofessional at our school—and she happened to be in my room at the time. She immediately screamed his name, including the middle one. We had a good laugh, though she was embarrassed. I think he heard about it when she got home.
Moms Don’t Miss a Thing, Vol. 2…
My students were working on math concepts and the mother of one of them sits with him each day in class. I asked the question, “How many blocks are left when I take four away from the group of 10?” Before the student can answer, his mom says, “Six. He says six.” After this happened repeatedly during the lesson, I asked her to let her son answer. Her response? “But I know the answers, too.” I just shook my head.
Bunnies and Dragons
Here’s a few of the sights I’ve been treated to this year: A bunny eating a banana (super cute to watch!); a bearded dragon named Stumpy sitting on the shoulder of one of my students (I think he was trying to learn math); many dogs in deep sleep on beds (apparently not interested in math); and flashing disco lights and funny hats (dance party central!).
I have a high school student who like to do his Zoom lessons while sitting in his bathtub. Thankfully, he’s clothed! He says it’s his calming place. Another student has a little sister who likes to think she’s in high school like her sister. Little sister will sneak into the background of big sister’s Zoom class and mimic her. I have to acknowledge little sister as a class member or she will pout.
My dog seems to know whenever I give a test. So far, she’s decided that test time is the perfect time to get herself stuck under the table and howl until I free her; find my daughter’s stuffed animal and kill it on camera; bring her food bowl and clang it against my desk until I give her a treat; play peek-a-boo over my shoulder because she sees herself on camera; and barf on my daughter’s feet in the background.
I Went to a Spanish Class and a Birthday Party Broke Out
In my seventh-grade Spanish class, I was giving instructions on verb conjugations, which can be quite boring. All of a sudden, a student unmuted to answer a question and all we heard was someone screaming, “Haaaaaaappppppy Birthday, Reva!” I stopped immediately and said, “Well, I don’t know who Reva is, but we are going to sing Happy birthday to her in Spanish.” The kids were giggling and the student who had unmuted was mortified. I asked if Reva could hear us, and my student said, “Yes ma’am, she’s my mom’s friend from Kentucky.” So, Reva came over to the screen and we sang Feliz Cumpleanos to her. It was like we were singing it in rounds because of the delay with some students’ internet, but we sang loud and proud. Reva loved it, and I guess that’s all that matters.
If It’s not On Video, It Didn’t Happen
I was in an online department meeting being led by my assistant principal, who’s an incredible woman with three young children. It had just finished raining, so her kids were playing in puddles while we met. She was sitting in her yard, occasionally muting to guide a child. The next thing we know, her 2-year-old streaks by in the background! We are all teachers and parents, so we just started laughing, and thanked the little guy for the biggest laugh we’d had in months. My AP just smiled, kept on rolling, and said, “Well, I’m glad I’m not recording.”
Online, They Might be Anywhere…
I don’t make my students use cameras for online class because I’ve found some of them are in a moving car or at the grocery store with family during class time. I’m a photography teacher and I want kids to be taking pictures of what’s around them, not using ones they’ve found on Google. One ESOL student told me of her love for El Salvador and turned in some photos of that country. I emailed them back, thinking they were either old or copied, and told her they weren’t acceptable because I needed photos she had taken herself. She then told me that she’s been in El Salvador this entire school year and did take them. I was stunned.
The Latest Fashions
One of my students didn’t remember that his camera was on and, enthused about something in class, jumped up with his Underoos on. It turned into a full conversation about how everyone on the call was only half-dressed (except me, of course).
Excuse Me, I Have to Take This Call
I was working with a one of my full-time remote learners one day, but I could tell he was getting antsy, which was unusual, as he is usually focused and on-task. Getting him to focus on the work was next to impossible and I wasn’t sure how I was going to bring him back into the lesson. Suddenly, he grabbed a banana from his table, and started talking into it like it was phone. As luck would have it, I’d brought a banana to school in my lunch. I grabbed my banana and made sounds like a phone ringing. He answered, and we “talked” on our banana phones for the remainder of our time. He finished his assignments with flying colors. His great-grandmother laughing in the background was icing on the cake! I think it’s a lesson all of us will remember for a very long time, and will hopefully bring a smile to our faces every time we think about it. And I now bring a banana every day to school, just in case…
On the first day of school, I was letting a third-grader share about her summer. When she turned on her microphone, I couldn’t hear anything because of the background noise. I asked her what all the noise was, and she said, “That’s just my twin brother. He’s playing video games.” She turned the camera toward him, and he played on, seemingly oblivious to the fact that his sister had just outed him to his teacher and all his classmates—on the first day of class!
Cat’s Out of the Bag
One day, my cat walked across in front of my screen and, within 10 minutes, three-quarters of my students had turned their video on to show their cats. We had to go around and introduce each one.
A Record Contract Waiting to Happen
A young lady in my sixth-grade class has an 8-month-old sister who often cries in the background. The first time I heard her, I asked my student why her sister was crying. She didn’t know, so I asked her to bring her to the screen, whereupon I sang The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round until she stopped. I did that for a few of our live times. It became really funny to my students, who would always say I needed to “fix it” when the baby was crying. My student would bring her back, I would sing and she would laugh and smile. I guess it really does take a village.
They’re Called Laptops for a Reason
One student logged in for a quick check-in, went to turn his microphone on and accidentally turned the camera on instead. Unfortunately, he was sitting on the toilet at the time. He quickly logged out of our meeting…
Ho, Ho, Ho!
A second grade teacher at my school had Santa photobomb behind one of her students during a class session, to the great excitement of the class. He turned out to be the student’s father, who later stopped by again to talk and read to the class.
Parents are Supposed to Embarrass Their Children
A first-year middle school teacher was on a one-on-one Zoom tutoring session with a student when the student’s father walked by in his skivvies. The teacher came down the hall, all a-giggle, to tell us what she’d seen.
We were finishing up a debate about Egypt in my sixth-grade class when one of my debaters for the affirmative side joined us live. He was in his camo gear and blaze orange riding down the road. I saw his situation and asked if he was going to be able to present his argument, to which he replied, “Oh, yes ma’am, I’m hunting, but I’m prepared.” The other kids were laughing while we waited for him to speak because it was obvious he was scanning the woods, waiting for that big buck to show up.
I SEE You…
One student taking a test forgot that I could see her. In the middle of the test, she jumped up from her desk, ran to her bed, started jumping on it. I just quietly said “OK, friends, I’m so proud of the way you’re all working so hard. Don’t give up.” She stopped jumping and got a look on her face that seemed to say, “Who is that?” Then she got back on the computer to work, still looking around to see where the voice came from.
No Charge for the Extra Biology Lesson
A science teacher I know was teaching class outside one beautiful fall day. He’d recently gotten a new Labrador puppy, which was also out enjoying the weather. The puppy, in the middle of class and in full camera view, climbed up on the table behind the teacher and pooped. The teacher could see the kids reacting but went on, pretending everything was normal.
School’s in Session. Just not This School.
A student who was supposed to be in an online breakout room with a reading teacher left the meeting. I used monitoring software to see what website she had gone to and to send her a message to return to class. When I found her, I could see that she’d created her own Google Meet and was using it to “teach” kindergarten math to her toddler sister and dolls. I watched her recording herself using manipulatives and drawing on a virtual smart board. She even did a dance with hand motions while continuing to ignore my “come back to class” messages. Eventually we had to call her grandma—who was not amused. She got to do class from the dining room table the rest of the week.
What Lurks Inside
I have a freshman student known for her very sweet disposition. One day during online class, her younger sister barged in and my student gave her a demon-like growl and hissed, “I’m on a Google Meet for class. Go away!” She turned back around, embarrassed a bit, and we all looked astonished that she’d shown her “don’t mess with me” side. For the rest of that class, if her little sister showed up, my student gave her the evil eye and she’d leave quickly.