What I learned from Zoom

Photo by Chris Montgomery

I remember back in March when I was approached by Kerby Centre about taking my yoga classes online. At that time, I really wasn’t sure how I felt about that, as I’ve only ever conducted classes in person, and I had no idea what “Zoom” even was. I wanted to do my best to still have a sense of community and connection with my class even though we were online.
I also had my mind fill up with questions: Where in my home would I conduct my class? What if my family/dog makes noise during my class? Are they going to see my sink full of dirty dishes? What if its not perfect? How can I learn about Zoom and will I even have enough knowledge to “Host” a meeting?

In case you’re not familiar with Zoom, its a “Cloud-Based” video conferencing tool used for meetings, virtual social gatherings, conferences, training and education. It has some similarities to Skype or Facetime if you have experiences with those platforms. In the last few months it has increased in popularity as a way for businesses and friends/family to connect.

In the week prior to my scheduled online class, I set up a free Zoom account, and I was able to do a few “practice runs” prior which helped me gain a better understanding of how to navigate the program and in turn, it gave me more confidence using Zoom. I was able to access several online tutorials about the features of Zoom and how to go about hosting a meeting. Then I decided to just dive on in.

With my first class I was nervous, but excited and it was wonderful seeing the familiar faces of many of my students. That moment right there made doing this all worthwhile. Seeing my students light up seeing each other and myself on the screen gave us all a sense of connection. To be honest, my first class was far from perfect. I couldn’t find the “Mute All” button at first, so any background noise coming from anyone else’s home would be heard by everyone. For whatever reason any sound that was also picked up in that moment would switch the camera view to that student’s video (or “Spotlight Camera” from myself to that student’s screen.)

I also had a few students have some technical difficulties come up and even though I wasn’t able to help them right at that moment, we were able to come up with some possible solutions after class to problem solve. When you have a free Zoom account, you are given 40 mins of time to work with, and near the end of my class plan for this first class, it ended up cutting out early. (I later learned that as soon as more than one person logs into a “Free Zoom Account” meeting, the timer automatically starts.

I know that I logged in about 10 minutes earlier, so in the end, instead of getting a 40-minute yoga class, my students just got 30, with relaxation cut off at the end.

I felt terrible that things ended so abruptly and it wasn’t really how I envisioned everything going. I quickly sent off an email to my students apologizing for our session getting cut off sooner than expected, but any responses I received back were really supportive. I have to say I’m really impressed and inspired with my students stepping out of their comfort zones and learning all about Zoom with me. One student emailed me saying how wonderful this is that we’re figuring it all out together.

Later that evening, my husband and I were watching Stephen Colbert. (who like many other talk show hosts and a variety of “non-traditional work from home” positions are doing their best to adjust and work from home). While he was conducting his show on Zoom he was interviewing Daniel Radcliffe. Immediately there were technical difficulties. But he ended up calling up Daniel Radcliffe from his cell phone and using his cell as audio for the entire interview. My husband turned to me and said “See – even Stephen Colbert is still figuring out Zoom.” It made me feel better.

The biggest take away that I have learned in my three-month Zoom experience so far is:
Life is unscripted, unpredictable and imperfect and because of that we are all human.

I’m far from being an expert at Zoom, but I feel that for the most part I have figured out the main features, improved on timing and my classes feel a bit more polished. I still continue to learn. Sometimes my dog comes into my camera view while I’m teaching, or perhaps background noises come up — and in the end, it’s all okay.

We are all perfectly imperfect.