It’s official, my district is officially moving to online instruction for the next five weeks, maybe even longer. Many districts are doing the same, perhaps planning to be online through the end of the school year. This leaves me wondering what I need to set up and prepare for a virtual classroom.
Some of my colleagues experimented with Google Meet and Zoom yesterday. We wanted to familiarize ourselves with video conferencing for individual students or the entire class. While there will be a whole new learning curve for teaching in this manner, there were some other realizations that I had during this test run.
First of all, I realized that the space I chose for the video feature was too dark and therefore, it was difficult to see me on the screen. I had a view of about 15 colleagues – Brady Bunch style! – and I was definitely the darkest and grainiest square. So, now I know that I need to choose a bright sunny spot, or somewhere that I can turn on an overhead light that won’t glare into the webcam.
Next, there was a lot of feedback from background noise. While my husband is home from work and my kids are home from school too, I will need some noise cancelling capabilities. After researching various headsets, I just bought this pair of wireless headphones on Amazon* (see affiliate disclosure below). It cost about $15 more than a wired set, but I will be able to use it when listening to music on my phone too – bonus!
Also, since I am working from a laptop and I don’t have a ten keypad to quickly enter grades, I am thinking about this keypad from Amazon*. I am sure there will be plenty more necessities for my virtual classroom, but for now, those are the most immediate “classroom supplies” I need.
Also, I was so intrigued by the teachers’ backdrops that were visible during the video conferencing test run. It was so fun to peek into the homes of my colleagues, but it made me realize that – yikes! – we may be inviting our students to peek into our homes in the next few days too. So, not only do I need a bright spot for video clarity and noise cancelling capability, I need somewhere that won’t be distracting or seem too personal for me. Which brings me to my next thought…what do I have around the house that I could use to decorate my new classroom?
I immediately went to this painting that I purchased from @shmoe19 last year at Grand Central Market in LA. It stopped me in my tracks when I saw it! Not only have I always loved Peanuts, but I will forever be inspired by Charlez Schultz’ educational experience. It made me want to be a better teacher and a cheerleader for all those kids who feel like they “don’t fit the mold.” (Read Schultz’ story here.) And even better, @shmoe19’s spouse is also a teacher, and I love that this painting supports an artist and a fellow educator! So, this painting is 100% going to be part of the backdrop to my virtual classroom.
Which got me to thinking, I also had a Snoopy puzzle that alludes to writing. I bought it on Amazon over a year ago, at a price that was much cheaper than it is today, with the intention of bringing it into my classroom. I put it away until I had the chance to glue it together, but I forgot about it until now. (Did you know that a mixture of 50% water and 50% Elmer’s Glue is the same thing as Modge Podge?) So, I will be using this piece that is a parody of “bad writing” and a reminder to be more original than the author who popularized this phrase, Edward Bulwer-Lytton.
So how will you be preparing for your virtual classroom? What other “classroom supplies” will you need? Comment below and inspire us! Also, consider curating a list of your needs at theteacherswishlist.com and sharing it with friends and family who will donate to your classroom.
(*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)