For me, as for many teachers, this has been the week of Zoom.
It was a tool I used sparingly before. But now, suddenly, it’s the cornerstone of my work life. I have had dozens of Zoom meetings, webinars, get-togethers, and conferences this week. By Friday, it felt like I no longer teach: I Zoom.
I Zoom seated on the chaise in my home office where I write and read every morning. It feels rather Victorian to work from a chaise. If you’re working on a chaise, are you even working? But when you have six cats vying for lap time, the lap size needs to increase. With outstretched legs, I can easily hold three or four cats, and there is ample room on either side for two or three more.
I Zoom with my cat co-workers. It turns out that they LOVE Zoom meetings. They crawl in my lap, swirl in front of the screen, block my view, bathe themselves, sneeze, look out the window, nap–in short, they live their best cat lives for all to see. And of course they are the stars of every meeting. Once the cat is on the screen, I don’t think anyone can hear a word I’m saying anymore because, to quote the Vice President of my college in our Zoom meeting, “Oh look! We have a little visitor!” Pet show-and-tell is already an accepted part of every professional meeting I’ve had this week.
I am missing people watching with all this staying at home, but Zoom meetings offer an interesting substitute. There are the kids and the cats and the dogs and the parents and the spouses who invariably wander into meetings. And then there is the home space that we catch intriguing glimpses of.
My colleagues and teacher friends Zoom in front of bookshelves, some organized by color (beautiful but, I’ve discovered through personal experience, fairly impractical for finding the book you’re seeking), some by genre, and some not organized at all. In every case, I find books incredibly distracting as a background. Not quite as distracting as a cat, but I lose track of the discussion as I try to read book titles and browse shelves.
My students Zoom from their cars, their living room couches, their bedrooms, their grandparents’ houses. They Zoom sitting on the floor. More than one has Zoomed this week in front of a pile of boxes, the contents of their hastily packed-up dorm rooms.
A few leaders of professional webinars this week have Zoomed in front of a plain beige wall, which confuses me. Do people really have rooms in their houses with institutional beige walls? Where is the color? Where is the stuff?
Fellow Zoomers who love to spy on bookshelves would be disappointed in my house. My chaise is positioned in a corner so that I can see all of my bookshelves myself. On a Zoom call with me, you will see the greenish gray back of my chaise, a red wall, a turquoise striped curtain. And some small mounted antlers hanging on the wall, which I imagine confuses people who are expecting nerdy teacher decor. Antlers found at a flea market and treasured now for the beauty of their shape and the mystery of their story. Antlers on the wall are the one decoration I have discovered I share with many of my rural students, though they and their families certainly hunted for their antlers themselves. No flea market finds there.
What has your week in Zoom been like, and where do you Zoom from?