How I learned to stop worrying and love the Zoom calls

Ginny Bootman has been on a rollercoaster ride with Zoom over the last three months – but thinks she has finally found a happy medium for its long-term use in her teaching life

Ginny Bootman

Coronavirus: I always thought of Zoom as an ice lolly - until I started to get to grips with teaching online, writes Stephen Petty

Lockdown happened, Zoom happened...They seemed to be seamlessly interwoven as a buy-one-get-one-free deal.

At first, my stubborn streak kicked in.

In my defence, it was born out of fear. Fear of looking silly or not being able to connect to the internet or use the microphone, or generally make a mess of it.

I wanted to retain my professionalism and worried that I would look silly. Really, I was in a bit of a pickle.

I voiced my concerns to my colleagues, who were brilliant and guided me through the home learning of Zoom.

It was a true voyage of discovery with my husband – we would be Zooming each other from different rooms to check out things like screen sharing before we set foot into the big wide world of professional video calling.

My daily zoom fix

Fast forward five weeks and I was a changed teacher. Zoom was like some weird fix I wanted daily. My CPD has never been so up to date.

Free Zoom webinars were popping up and I didn't want to miss any of them. I have led Zooms happily and waltzed into breakout rooms and helped others unmute their microphones like a pro. Next week, I am actually doing a live talk on Zoom.

I have found Zoom an amazing vehicle to connect with amazing people in education. In my role as Sendco, I have had great meetings that would otherwise have meant me having to travel to attend.

I understand that Zoom isn’t for everyone of course – staff, parents and children alike. And sometimes it's about adapting the environment to suit the individual – turning the video off, changing backgrounds, ensuring there are not too many people present to make it overwhelming. 

And we must recognise that a phone call can be a better option in some circumstances.

But still, I really like Zoom.

A lot less zoom

However, since going back to school as a teacher my Zoom usage has lessened considerably.

Having been at school all day I may have a Zoom meeting or not but now I limit myself.

Zoom has also changed my way of approaching certain aspects of my job.

During lockdown, I binged on Zoom because I could. I learned loads and made great connections. I am now using it as a tool alongside existing systems.

I think Zoom was almost like a colleague for me. Someone to chat to about education. The mere existence of breakout rooms in Zoom has blown my mind.

It is like Twitter but with voices. Lots of people who are like-minded in some weird Muppet Show sketch.

A balanced future with video

As I approach the summer holidays, I am weaning myself off Zoom.

We are still close friends but we don't need to catch up daily. We might even take a break during the summer holidays.

In September, though, Zoom and I will meet up again for a coffee during staff training instead of staff travelling miles to staff meetings at different schools.

This is what I will take most from Zoom – it's so flexible and offers time-poor teachers a new avenue to engage, explore and educate - both each other and themselves.

Let's get the balance of doing Zoom alongside humans in a room right so we can derive the benefits of both, rather than ditch the former because we can finally engage in the latter.

(Of course, other video platforms are available, too.)

Ginny Bootman is a Sendco and class teacher at Evolve MAT in Northamptonshire. She tweets @sencogirl and has a website at www.ginnybootman.com

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