We’ve been doing three days of Mrs. Claus sessions again this year (65 videoconferences and 5000 students). I have noticed that some sessions go very well because of how the teachers and coordinators help us. So here’s a list of some of the best practices that we’ve noticed this week:
- Zoom the camera in on the students asking questions. This allows Mrs. Claus to comment on shirts, missing teeth, etc. Some classes zoom in on students standing up; others mark a spot on the floor where they have a preset.
- When calling students for questions, say their name clearly and stand fairly near the mic so Mrs. Claus can hear and use their name. i.e. “Erin has a question.” “Hi, Erin!”
- Facilitate the conversation. In some of the connections, the teacher guided the conversation and helped the students ask appropriate questions. Sometimes the teachers also tell us what they’ve talked about in class.
- Keep the mic unmuted. Mrs. Claus likes to hear the reaction of the students, and also what the students say before she comes on camera. It’s nice to hear the reaction during the story too.
- Bring it to a close when the kids gets antsy or start asking odd questions. “Well kids, we have to go. Let’s say goodbye to Mrs. Claus!”
- Scheduling classes. We had several schools that scheduled their sessions back to back. We found, though, that it was really hard to transition fast enough. Next year we’re thinking it would be better to have another school in between. This way when we connect, the kids are there sitting and ready. This makes it easier to have a new class every 15 minutes.
Some of these tips are appropriate for all kinds of videoconferences. Next big project is Read Around the Planet. Are you participating this year?