Bridget’s Speech Kitchen Presents: Get Ready for Zoom!

Hello Everyone! 👋

I know many of you are on Zoom for endless hours a day whether it’s working from home or managing your student’s classes online. For me, it’s become my most used tool for speech therapy (and maybe even my best friend!?). Zoom is a great platform and I’m fortunate to have access to it as a teletherapist. Since March 2020, I’ve been working as a tele Speech-Language Pathologist–and it’s been tricky! However, it is manageable and made easier with having set expectations and a checklist handy for when it’s time to sign on to Zoom for class.

What do I mean when I say “set expectations” and “Zoom behaviors checklist?” Let me break that down:

There are set expectations for students regarding Zoom and school. Teachers expect students to attend class each day and participate. They expect students to do their homework and turn it in on time, even though this will be done online. They expect students to demonstrate appropriate behaviors when in Zoom class. I also have these same expectations for my speech therapy students.

There are Zoom behaviors that teachers also expect. These include behaviors like having your camera on, muting yourself when you’re not talking, not distracting others in the chat, etc. I hold

For many students, they understand these expectations and demonstrate appropriate behaviors in the Zoom classroom. But for students on the Autism Spectrum, students with other syndromes, and students with disabilities such as language disorders; understanding these expectations and behaving appropriate in Zoom class is challenging.

Here’s steps of a timeline/routine to go through for a Zoom class/sessions:

Before the Zoom class: 1. Make sure your computer is ready to go (charged) 2. Make sure your WiFi is working 3. Remove any distractions from your environment (like game consoles, cell phones, etc.)

During the Zoom class: 1. Your camera needs to be turned on when entering the Zoom classroom 2. Your mic should be muted unless it’s your turn to talk 3. Use the chat appropriately 4. Be respectful to your teacher and classmates

After the Zoom class: 1. Say goodbye to your teacher and classmates (don’t just sign off!) 2. Complete your homework in a timely manner and turn it in on time 3. Email your teacher with any questions 4. Prepare for the next day by plugging in your computer to charge 5. Reflect on how you did that day

I’m going to go into more depth on a few of these because they are common obstacles I have encountered in virtual speech therapy.

  • Remove any distractions from your environment.

This is something that you can control. You may not be able to control the quality of of your WiFi or the speed of your connection, but you can prep your environment for optimal learning before hand. I work with older students (middle schoolers, so tweens and teens) and they have many distractions in their environment. The main distractions are cell phones, video games, multiple unrelated tabs open on their computer, and television. I’ve had students during sessions play on their phone or listen to music from another computer tab when it’s not their turn. Sometimes I don’t catch it, but more often than not I do–especially when they forget to mute themselves! If I see a student with a distraction in their environment, before I continue with the lesson; I have them put away the distraction (like a cell phone) or “delete” the distraction (closing out of an unrelated computer tab, like YouTube). When there are no distractions in your school environment, you are better equipped to learn! If the student is in a room or in a situation where the distractions can’t be removed (such as a younger sibling watching TV in the background), see if they are able to move to another location where the distractions are not present. There will be times where this isn’t possible and where a student isn’t in an ideal learning environment, but we have to do our best to improve the condition of the space so they gain the most from school and speech therapy!

  • Use the chat appropriately.

The chat function of Zoom is convenient when students have video and/or audio issues but still want or need to participate in class or speech therapy. It’s also a great feature when I want the students to answer the same question, but I don’t want one student to blurt out the answer and not give the other students a chance to respond. That’s when the private chat comes in handy. While the chat is a great feature, it needs to be utilized appropriately and responsibly. What do I mean by this? That chat should only be used to communicate to the teacher and to participate in class activities. Writing in the chat to inform the teacher that you are having WiFi issues or to answer a question about a reading passage is appropriate. Telling the teacher her hair looks weird or telling your classmates about what you had for lunch instead of answering the teacher’s question is inappropriate. Reviewing this with your child or student that struggles with this (if you’re an SLP or teacher) will help with appropriate Zoom behaviors in the chat!

  • Be respectful to your teachers and classmates.

Removing distractions from the environment and using the chat only for its intended purposes are both ways to show respect to your teacher and classmates. Other signs of respect are only taking when it’s your turn and answering questions in a timely and respectful manner. I’ve had many students ask me “Do I HAVE to come to speech?” or “Why am I here? I don’t want to be here,” and this isn’t the best way to ask a question or express thoughts and feelings. Review statements like these with the student and talk about showing respect.

  • Say goodbye to the teacher at the end of the Zoom meeting.

Many of my students have social skills and pragmatic language goals they are working on. Some of the students forget to say goodbye (or just choose to not say goodbye) which is unexpected. Let the student know the expectation of saying farewell to the teacher and their classmates and hopefully that will remind them to do so!

  • Reflect on how you did that day.

This is something for my older students. I summarize what skills we worked on and praise them for their efforts. I also let them know when their next session is. I instruct them to think about how they did during our session that day and ask them what they are going to practice and work on before the next session (to see if they were listening and to help them remember what to practice and work on). I do this with my older students because my number one piece of advice for students in speech therapy is to Practice, Practice, Practice! It’s the number one way to get better at a skill in a shorter amount of time.

I hope this was an informational and education article on how students can effectively use Zoom for school and speech therapy with proper preparation and in-class behaviors!

❤️ Bridget, CCC-SLP & Kitchen Wizard

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