Today I’m going to talk about a topic that might seem kind of silly. When remote learning was first introduced somewhat clumsily in the first stages of quarantine this spring, I was terrified of participating in class on my Zoom meetings, and I didn’t like having my video on. Hours and hours of time spent on Zooms later, I’m much more comfortable with the platform and in some situations (definitely not all) I almost prefer it to meeting with people in person. Keep on reading if you want to find out what changed my mind and how I got over this silly fear.
Spoiler alert: the main thing that helped me get over this weird fear was just being on more Zooms. My writing workshop was held completely virtually on Zoom, I attended a leadership seminar also run on Zoom, my meetings for various extracurricular activities ended up being hosted on Zoom, I had to run my own individual Zoom meetings when I volunteered to tutor elementary school students, I had tons of Zoom meetings when I started my internship in July and have now led/helped lead Zoom meetings with a decent amount of people on them through that same internship, and now, of course, I spend my full school day in Zoom classes.
Originally, I felt so conscious about having Zoom classes. Would people be judging my background? Was my audio quality bad, or was there going to be a bunch of background noise from my family that would embarrass me? The idea that my voice would reverberate through everyone else’s speakers if I decided to talk freaked me out. I feel like in an in-person class, people don’t really tune in to other people’s answers unless they’re really engaged in what’s going on.
I now realize Zoom class is basically the same in this way (there’s even more opportunities to tune out), but in my head I thought that everyone would be hyperfocused on me if my face popped up on the screen and started talking. You can’t have casual side conversations with peers or teachers in a Zoom room unless you’re in breakout rooms- either everyone’s listening to you or they’re not.
Being in breakout rooms and nudging myself to participate during my writing workshop led the groundwork for being more comfortable in virtual settings later on. My goal was to participate once per day in the large group sessions during my writing workshop, but we all participated a ton in our small groups. With this experience under my belt, I couldn’t help but feel like a Zoom expert in my other meetings during the summer, and I was one of the first people to speak in my leadership seminar groups in many situations.
I’m one of those people who is super shy but around other shy people can easily make myself more outgoing/extroverted to fit that role in the group, and having previous experience with Zoom/virtual meetings in general made me more confident to lead them and participate in them as I would if I were in person. If I can do it, you can too!
I hope you enjoyed hearing a little bit about my experience with this topic. Zoom is a key part of virtual learning, but it’s being used for so much more even outside of the education sphere right now, and I know it’s scary to some in the same way it was to me. Feel free to leave any feedback or your own personal experiences in the comments. Stay safe and healthy out there.