How to Get the Most Out of Zoom Sessions

Get ready to learn with video chat

We know that there’s a great deal of uncertainty in many parts of your lives right now, but we want to make sure that tutoring is not one of them.  To that end, we’ve put together this brief guide to make sure that things go smoothly as you shift to online lessons.

We’re fully ready to support you!

Even though online work may be new to you and your child, it’s old hat to us.  We’ve been offering online support to students for a few years now and have developed a set of best practices that all of our tutors are aware of.  We host live workshops and share recorded trainings so that all of our tutors can make the most of online education platforms.

Getting Started

In order for your child to participate in an online lesson, they’ll need to download Zoom.  This is the platform we use for online work because it uses a low bandwidth which allows for smoother audio and video than other platforms.  It also provides simple screen sharing and an interactive whiteboard which make for a highly engaging tutoring experience.  

1. Visit and create an account

2. Download Zoom Client for Meetings (if you have trouble with this step, please don’t worry as the program will automatically download when you launch the first meeting)

3. Once you’ve downloaded the Zoom Client, test your audio and video by clicking on “New Meeting”.  Zoom’s default is to start all meetings with microphones muted and cameras turned off. You can activate each of these things by clicking on the buttons in the bottom left of your Zoom screen:

When you click on the small up arrow next to the microphone, you’ll be given the option to test your microphone and speakers.  For a more detailed walk through of getting started you can read this article from Zoom.  

4. When you receive the lesson reminder from Dashboard, it will include a link to the Zoom.

5. If for some reason you do not see the link, reach out to your academic coach directly and they can provide a new one.  

Troubleshooting and Your First Remote Lesson

When you attempt to join the Zoom session, it’s possible that you will receive one of a handful of messages indicating that ]the Zoom session is not ready to begin.  Some of these are shown below:

These messages are not indicative of a problem, but rather the result of your coach not having started your meeting yet.  Simply text the coach that you are ready and they will let you know when to reconnect.  

If you run into any other problems when you look to start your session, text your Academic Coach then as well; they are prepared to offer basic troubleshooting.  

Please keep in mind that many coaches will have multiple lessons in a row, so they may not respond immediately.  Still, the text will alert them to the fact that you are trying to connect, and they can call you at the lesson’s start time to offer support.  Coaches know to allow additional time for each student’s first remote session that they can troubleshoot without needing to sacrifice instruction time.  

Best Practices

The first thing to know is that your Academic Coach is here to help make sure things go well.   Have your child store the coach’s phone number so they can reach out with any trouble-shooting questions.  Other best practices to put into place include the following:

  1. Pro Tip: Avoid letting your child use Zoom on the phone. The screen is simply too small! It will create a less than optimal experience for the screen-sharing and whiteboard activity.
  2. The Right Setting: Conduct online sessions in a quiet, well-lit space with a strong internet connection.  Background noise is even more distracting for online work than work in person. If your child can’t find a silent place to work, encourage them to use headphones.
  3. Be Prepared: Coaches will often ask students to email them photos of completed homework, challenging problems, and other materials before a lesson. Be sure to send these a few hours before the session starts, or the night before if possible. Make sure your child has their books ready to go when the Zoom session begins.  

Have an Open Mind

Our coaches have identified a number of pedagogical approaches that enhance the online tutoring experience.  If students have an open mind, they might just find they prefer online work to in-person work. Here are some activities that they might engage in:

  1. Narrate Your Work: Students may be asked to describe their thought process as coaches record the resulting work on a shared whiteboard.  
  2. Shared Note-Taking: Coaches may share a digital outline of a unit and students personalize the outline throughout the session. 
  3. Between Session Support: Shared documents allow for tutors to comment on student work between sessions.
  4. Last Minute Support: Though dependent on tutor availability, the removal of travel time means that coaches may be able to offer last-minute sessions prior to a test.

See you in (virtual) class!

Private Prep