How to be a teacher's pet...even over Zoom
School has started, and while the transition to online learning will be difficult, it's still possible to be the best student in your virtual classroom! Even if you can't be back in your school's hallways or hanging out in the library, here are four things you can do to be the top student.
Brush up on Zoom etiquette
First things first: Put your phone away! Make sure you're somewhere comfortable and quiet. While sitting in your bed is tempting, the soft mattress will have you constantly shifting your weight or falling asleep. A table or desk is best, and you'll want to position yourself in front of a solid background with plenty of light so your teacher doesn't have any problems recognizing you. If your younger siblings are constantly running around the family room, try and find a more private space with less foot traffic. There's no need to get dolled up like a beauty queen, but you'll definitely want to wash your face and change out of your pajamas— although if you want to wear a blouse with sweatpants, I won't judge you. The point is to show your teachers your respect for their hard work by being fully present and ready to learn.
Show up early
I'm not saying you should log on an hour early— your teacher will hate that— but it's a good idea to join the meeting 5 minutes before the start time. This will give you a chance to introduce yourself, ask any important questions, and voice any concerns you have about the course. Showing up early will show your teacher that the class is important to you.
Break the ice
The silence at the beginning of an online class is deafening, so break the ice and ask how everyone's summer went. If your teacher is already speaking, don't interrupt, but if they're occupied figuring how to let people in from the waiting room, feel free to introduce yourself and ask your fellow students questions about their hobbies, favorite album of the summer, etc. When your teacher asks a question and no one answers, don't be afraid to speak up. Even if you don't know the answer, your teacher will appreciate you asking a clarifying question instead of just sitting in silence.
Monitor the chat
Speaking up in a regular classroom is hard enough for shy students and a Zoom call can be even more overwhelming. If someone was too nervous to speak up and decided to leave a comment on the symbolism in The Great Gatsby in the chat, read it aloud for the group. It's way too easy for teachers to forget about the chat window and ignore comments, so offer to read any relevant messages. Reach out to your classmate with something like, "That's a great point! Mind if I read it out loud?" Taking this initiative will create a more inclusive discussion and make other students more comfortable with unmuting that mic.
Just like a regular class, you should be taking notes. While it's easier to keep a google doc of your notes, writing down important information will help you to remember it more easily. Plus, with all this newfound free time, you'll finally be able to personalize your notes and make them really cute! After looking at computer screens all day, your eyes will appreciate the break, and you won't have to open any more tabs.