Video clips and tips for live, in-session video

Sarah Snyder -


Use full-screen video for intro and outro of your sessions

The whiteboard is critical for having space to write and work through your math problems, but the full screen video can give you an opportunity to engage with your student and help develop a relationship. Here are a few things to try:
- Start out on screen in your sessions with video and say hi to your student before switching to the whiteboard.
- This can be a great time to check in with your student about an assignment or exam you were talking about in a previous session. 
- Transition to the whiteboard when you’re ready to focus on their current math problem.
- After you’re all done working together, you can flip back to full screen video to wrap up, wish them luck with their upcoming quiz, or even just say goodbye.

You can see a great example of this in this video clip showing the beginning and end of one of Joy's video sessions.


Engage with parents too!

Video can be a great tool to help you engage with parents as well as students. I’m sure many of you have been in a session where the parent is sitting right next to the student while you’re working together. You can use video at any point in the session to speak directly with the parent - in this example, Dana was able to converse with this mom at the beginning to help her feel more comfortable with the process as a first-time MathElf user, and get more context about what the student needs help with. We know you won’t have opportunity like this in all of your sessions, but we wanted to give you some ideas of what you can say when you join a session and see a parent in the video.


Seeing your student can help improve sessions

MathElf tutors have often expressed that one of the biggest challenges of remote tutoring compared to in-person tutoring is guessing how long to pause and let your student think or work through something before jumping in to help without any visual cues - especially if they’re writing on their own paper.

Several tutors have mentioned that in-session video has been helpful for figuring out that pacing when they’re working in the whiteboard - when to jump in so the student isn’t getting more frustrated and when to give them more time to try and sort things out so they don’t feel rushed. In this video, you’ll see two clips where Rachel was able to do just that! In the first one, her student is confused, and she jumps in with a hint. Later in their session, she was able to see her student working through a calculation and give her some more time to work it out.

We know not all of your students will be visible in the video while you’re working, but we are seeing that students are using video more and more as they have more sessions and feel more comfortable. The best thing you can do to make your students feel as comfortable as possible (and make video a more useful tool for you both) is to start the session on screen to greet them. Trying to keep yourself visible while you’re working is a big help too.

Introducing video to your students

Not all of our students are expecting to have live video when they connect. Some students are off screen at the start because they didn’t expect video. Others are a little nervous because they don’t know what to expect. The best things you can do as tutors to help these students are similar to how you’d approach a student who might be nervous about audio their first time - be friendly and welcoming right away.

In this session, Michelle does a great job of introducing video to her student! She lets him know about the new feature and keeps the experience positive. 


Excited students are so much fun to help!

The MathElf team thought this student was just too cute not to share! I hope her excitement brightens up your day!


Staying on screen while writing

One of the biggest challenges tutors have expressed with live video is staying on screen while writing on the whiteboard. Several tutors have mentioned struggling with this, but we’ve seen a few people having great success. Here’s a short clip from a session where Susan was able to stay on screen while writing throughout her entire 29 minute session!  


While these won't work for everyone, here are a few of my favorite options for staying on screen when I'm writing (all of which are working in your pj pants friendly):

Sitting at the table holding up the device - This should work in a chair at a regular table or desk as well as it did for me on the floor next to my office coffee table. I expected it to be harder to hold up the iPad while I was writing, but decided to give it a try. It really wasn’t bad!


In this configuration, it was easiest for me to have the iPad camera at the top of the screen. I did have to change the angle some writing closer to the bottom, but Allison could still see me completely until the camera got below a 45 degree angle with the table.

Sitting on the couch holding the device up - This was much easier with the assistance of a pillow.


Again, I could change the angle of the device a bit to write on different parts of the screen and still stay in view, but I was able to work on most of the screen without needing to adjust.

My personal favorite (and the way I’d normally be tutoring most often anyway) - propping the iPad up against my legs.


This way, I used the iPad like I normally do - with the camera at the bottom and button at the top so I don’t hit it with my hand when I write on the bottom of the screen.

In all of these setups, I toggled the video display in the whiteboard to show myself now and then (mostly if I shifted position or changed angle), but didn’t see much change throughout the session.

I definitely recommend trying a few different positions that are comfortable for you to write while the camera is pointed at you (you can even try writing in the scratchpad). Remember that flipping the iPad over so that the camera is at the top or bottom is an option that can make a big difference in whether someone sees you nicely framed in the video or just your forehead!

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