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  • Rebecca L'Bahy

How to Zoom like a Fourth Grader

Updated: Jul 11, 2022

By Rebecca L’Bahy

unmute yourself but don’t stop talking to your sister until teacher says mute please! never sit still— if you have a chair spin if you have a bed roll wiggle head, wrinkle nose, turn eyelids inside out or stay muted / play Minecraft / watch utube until teacher calls your name and asks if you are there blocks utube yells cameras on please and thank-you! then get up / open the door / sit back down get up / turn on the light turn off the fan / go out the door see what is going on in another room get a snack / a drink Come back to the chat to type sry!!! im back!!!! good morning!!!!! When the teacher tells you not to type in the chat type OK OK OK OK OK OK OK OK when a classmate types STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! type back STOP TYPING IN THE CHAT!!!!! when teacher shares a video unmute & yell It’s muted! You’re not sharing! Can’t hear anything! Can’t see! if teacher asks you to share a thought always raise your hand even though she always says sorry your microphone seems to not be working and you sound like ZZZZZZZZZBLMPHSZZZ when teacher asks you to get out your white board act as though you CANNOT be- lieve you need your white board tell her you don’t know where yours is / your sister took it / your marker is out of ink Type in the chat can I use a piece of paper? even though you know the answer is yes get up and open the door, yelling as you run to your mum where’s paper! need a pencil! come back and type in the chat im back!!! couldn’t find no paper!!! check out your tongue in the camera roll it and stick it out. do this until you get a cramp in your tongue or the teacher asks you to be appropriate (whichever comes first.) call your dog / put him in the camera type in the chat my other dog died and this one has cancer someone will type I had a cat but she got run over by a car someone else will say I can’t have a pet because my dad is allergic when a big brother pounces and punches his way to the zoom, jump up and wrestle him to the floor if you have a baby that is cute put them on your lap move their arms all around tickle them make them laugh finally, when the teacher asks are there any questions raise your hand and ask when is this class over? If she says she can’t hear you, type in the chat fjkjdoeinnoihew12329848798 then say sorry you were leaning on your keyboard



By Rebecca L’Bahy

A girl in the back asks you, her eyes burning when you tell her to please

sit in her assigned seat. Because when they see it’s you they sit where they please

with friends, talk and joke like you aren’t even there, like the video

you’re supposed to show isn’t there and you are the joke

when you call tech support and are told there’s nothing to be done but try

to load the video to their chrome books, which creates a chorus

of discontented cries, chaos It’s not working! I can’t find it! It’s restricted!

My chrome book is dead! I don’t have a charger!

They don’t have a pencil, a chair, a desk (a bedroom, a bed?)

need a band aid, hand sanitizer, tape, tissue, scissors (a mother or father?)

And you turn into some strange defensive creature

fielding, deflecting, one person against twenty-seven, and though you try

to give them something to pass the time, to keep them busy

they say I already did that / can’t find it / don’t have it / don’t care

And the talking, it gets louder, some daring you, get out of their seats!

Hoods that are supposed to be off are on

masks that are supposed to be up are down

You have to yell to be heard at all.

Because after 10 long minutes

of pleading, mouth dry, heart pounding

they start to settle—just a little. Some are even working

or at least looking at something on their chrome books.

(You don’t care if they are playing video games.)

Because just when you think it’s over, just when you start to let down

your guard, here comes the second wave, a flood

of requests to escape—Can I go bathroom / fill my water bottle / see the counselor /

the nurse? And when you try to enforce the rules they call you out. Why’d you let her! You are the worst teacher ever. Bro, I HAVE to GO!

You remind yourself that they are children.

That you are lucky to have a job.

Lucky, for the mask that hides half your face, catches your sigh.

The students see you. They know.

But only some care. (Why should they?)

If you are lucky one will speak up on your behalf.

A nice one.

What a day, huh? The nice one will say.

What a day.


Rebecca L'Bahy is a poet and writer who teaches middle school in Massachusetts. Her debut chapbook, Talking Back is available through Finishing Line Press. The proud mother of three daughters, you can learn more about her work at or by following her on twitter at @LaBlahMs.

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