It is always crucial when you book a video chat with another class to prepare for it. I would compare it to that of getting ready for a performance. The students are preparing to perform in front of an audience. I normally would try to sneak in a few video chats while students were already preparing for a performance so they got a little extra practice in before the big day. Of course, a digital performance is a little bit different than performing in person, but they are still able to work on those basic skills and practice their music for others.
So let’s go through this step by step;
Follow through and prepare
If you schedule a video session with another class, you no have to hold yourself accountable to make sure your students are prepared for it. Put it in your calendar, figure out which classes you can do with it, and put a plan into your lessons for them to make sure they are prepared. If you are not sharing songs for your performance, what will you have students practice?
It’s different on screen than on stage.
There are small differences to being on screen rather than on stage. Audio is a big one. The mic is a big one that does pick up a lot of small audio so a trick is to make sure students know that even a whisper can be picked up so they will need to be as quiet as possible while the other class is speaking or performing. Coming in and out of the room is another big distractor that could lead to issues with the video so making sure bathroom time or drinks are taken care of is another big must. Another big difference is that they have a camera on them the whole time. Every little move will be seen so they need to understand every move will be caught “on candid camera.” There are many little differences so making sure you spell them out from the beginning and then practice them all is going to help a lot.
Script it out
Make sure you spell out to students what is going to happen so they have the schedule and there are no surprises. Most of my students that I did this with were super nervous to do this so this helped calm some stage jitters. I wrote the schedule of what was going to happen on the call on the board so they could follow the order, and put the start time of the call up top, and when we would end the call at the bottom. This schedule was usually planned between myself and the other teacher so we both knew how the list of events would go.
Test the connection
This is probably the biggest must do before any video chat, make sure that everything works correctly. Schedule a quick 15 minutes or less with the other teacher to just check the setup and make sure camera, audio, and the network are all in agreement and everything looks good. I would suggest doing this a day or two before so you are not testing too far out but also have enough time to alert your IT team and they can jump in like the superhero they are and get it fixed for you.
Take time to get ready for this, it does not have to be a ton of work, but pulling a few things together and preparing the students for an experience like this could set up for an epic opportunity!