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In addition to learning how to teach remotely, you have likely had to attend at least one virtual meeting of some sort of web conference platform. These meetings can be awkward enough when it is a small PLC of 5-10 people. Campus faculty meetings of 100+ can get quite interesting.

How do I turn on grid view?

Do you want us all to turn our cameras on or not?

I have a ques...oh, sorry, go ahead...ok, I was saying I ha...ok, you go ahead...

And if you are really lucky, you’ve been able to experience a virtual ARD.

Sure, it’s not unusual to have a parent request to call in for an ARD, or sometimes you may have a specialist or an advocate participate by phone, but the majority of the players are usually present where the powers of face-to-face nonverbal communications can help with the flow.

 A few months ago, we shared some ARD etiquette suggestions with 10 Tips for Making Sure the Secondary Student is the Focus of the ARD. In light of this virtual world into which we have all been thrust, we would like to share a few additional tips.

Mute Your Mics 

At the beginning of the meeting, during the welcome, ask all participants to leave their mics on mute except for when they are addressing the group. This will cut down on background noises.

Be on Time

Ask all school participants to log in to the meeting 5 minutes early. It is unprofessional enough when a committee is held up by a teacher who has forgotten to come to an in-person meeting, but sitting awkwardly on a group call with a parent is really not a good look.

Inviting school participants to log in early allows everyone to get in and make sure that their device and connectivity is working properly. This is especially important for faculty members who have not teleconferenced before as they may need a little assistance.

One of our writers recently logged in for an ARD using the video feature on Google Hangouts and found 3 other faculty members there. As the start time came and passed, text messages were exchanged with the missing committee members, only to discover that two different Hangouts had been created (one phone and one video), so the video participants quickly jumped off their computers and grabbed their phones. Two teachers still had not arrived. The parent was very patiently waiting the whole time. The meeting finally started a little over 10 minutes late.

All of this could have been avoided with clearer communication and an early start-time.

Provide a Run Through

A great way to familiarize school participants with the platform and potentially modified format would be to require teams or departments to attend a brief mock ARD meeting on whatever platform being used. This would ensure that everyone knows how to log in and operate the appropriate features. 

If this is difficult to schedule, even providing a video to teachers in which a mock ARD is held using the platform could be helpful.

Be Prepared

While many of us may still be in pajama pants, professional only from the waist up (or if the camera is on mute, we may still be sporting bedhead and a 3-day 5 o’clock shadow), we still need to come to the meeting prepared to represent ourselves and our school in a professional manner.

Make sure that you have all documents ready beforehand. Computers are really good about shutting down for an update, running very slowly, or losing connectivity when it is most inconvenient. So, don’t count on pulling up the necessary documents during the meeting.

Access them in advance and either print out the pages you will need or download the whole file with pages bookmarked. Just try to avoid having to say, “I’m sorry, my computer is running slowly. Just bear with me. Almost there. Well, hold on, I can’t seem to find it. OK, what page was that on. Wait, wait, there it is!”

Aim to open documents and get settled in for your meeting 15 minutes before start time. Put that time in your schedule - not the actual start time.

Also, be sure you shut down your computer each evening so any updates that need to be done can be made outside of business hours. 

Proactively Prevent Photobombs

Whether you are calling in from your home office, a quiet corner in your bedroom, the dining room table, or your back deck, make sure that your family knows you are in a meeting with teachers, parents, and administrators. 

Ask them to avoid walking around in the background (and if they must, please be fully and properly dressed).

Bunny ears and other gestures are cute in pictures at Disney World, but not appropriate in a work meeting (one of our writers has a daughter who likes to put hats or necklaces on him during these meetings).

Just as it would be inappropriate to eat during an ARD at school, snacking is not appropriate in this setting. Even if your camera is off, you don’t want to be heard crunch or gulping or caught with your mouth full if asked a question.

Finally, ask your family to keep it quiet. You don’t want the ARD committee to have to hear Iron Man saving the world in the background, or a Frozen 2 sing-along, or you children arguing or who gets the last bowl of Lucky Charms. 

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