Join Rebel Teacher Academy!

How to set up Zoom Meeting Settings for Teachers

classroom management online education online learning teacher life tech in the classroom tech tips zoom Mar 09, 2021
How to set up Zoom Meeting Settings for Teachers

So you're in the middle of your online lesson and students start drawing all over your shared screen, or students are sending private chats to each other in the middle of your class.

We can get a handle on these misbehaviors in the online classroom, by making it harder for those misbehaviors to happen in the first place. And I'm going to show you how to do that by setting up the default settings in Zoom.

Today we're talking all about Zoom settings, kind of that background area on Zoom, where the settings are default. This is what's going to happen for all of your meetings. I'm just going to show you a few things that I think are really essential in the settings menu.

The first thing you're going to want to do is go to

Once you log in there, you're going to come over here to settings. Make sure you're on the meeting tab. And there's just a few really important things that I think every teacher should know.

The first is the waiting room. You should always have the waiting room enabled. This is so that kids don't come in before you're ready, or you don't have weird people coming in or they can have a spot to land. Or if they're coming in before you're ready, a spot for them to wait.

Waiting Room

A really cool aspect of the waiting room is that you can customize it. If you go here, make sure your waiting room is turned on and say, "Customize waiting room"

Here you can edit the title area. You can add a picture, which for me, is my Bitmoji. And then you can add a description. And in my description, I have reminders about the online learning expectations. They need to display their full name, that I am recording the lesson so images, video, and language needs to be appropriate, we're saving all the chats.

This is a cool aspect of Zoom. Even if they private chat from them to a friend, it'll still download to your computer at the end of the day. So, that is my waiting room message that they'll see as soon as they get to the waiting room. And they're sitting there waiting for class to start, that's what they'll see.

The one thing about this customization is that it will apply to all of your Zoom meetings. So where it says your meeting topic, that would be the title of your Zoom meeting. Mine would be, "Fifth-grade language arts" or, "Sixth-grade language arts". Try not to make this description too specific to any single class, but make it a little bit broader because it will be applied to all of your Zoom meetings.


The next thing that is really important is to make sure you have the passcode turned on, and this is good because then you don't have any of the security issues that kind of happened in the 2019-2020 school year. Then another thing that's really cool to do is to embed the passcode in the invite link. The link that we send to students will have the passcode right in it. They actually don't even need to type in the password. But if somebody ever does get a hold of your meeting ID they can't get into the meeting without that passcode. This way, it's a lot easier for students, a lot less clicking, a lot less typing, a lot fewer places where things could go wrong.

Video Turned On

Another thing that I really like to do is have the host video on automatically and the participant video on automatically. Obviously students can turn this off when needed if they're feeling any sort of anxiety or they're having any sort of issue with having their camera on.

I believe that it's totally okay for them to turn it off as long as they're participating. Once they stop participating, then that's a different story.

But I'd like them to start the meeting with it on because usually, they'll just leave it on.

Join Before Host

Make sure that "allow participants to join before host" is turned off. You do not want them starting a meeting without you. I've had this happen and when I showed up to class, they were all watching one of my students play Minecraft and I was like, "What's going on?" The student was sharing his screen and playing Minecraft and everyone was watching.

It was the best-case scenario for that situation. I just can imagine all of the terrible things that could happen. So make sure that that is turned off.

Personal Meeting ID

My school has also disabled the personal meeting ID; where this would be the same meeting ID for every Zoom meeting. And we don't want that because we want things to be more complicated for security reasons. We want every meeting to have its own meeting ID.

But if you say have a recurring meeting, like your fifth-grade language arts class meets every day, you can have the same meeting ID for that, but you're fifth grade and your sixth grade are not going to have the same one.

Mute when Joining

This is a really important one. Mute all participants when they join a meeting. You don't want to hear a kid's mom yelling at him to get on the computer and get logged in. You don't want to hear the dogs barking and stuff. And a lot of times when people join Zoom meetings, they don't realize they're un-muted. You just hear a lot of things that you really don't need to hear. So make sure that mute all participants when they join a meeting is turned on.

Upcoming Meeting Reminder

And the upcoming meeting reminder is actually super helpful. My coworkers always joke about how I am early to everything. And I tell them it's not because I'm good at this. It's because I have a reminder that pops up five minutes before. Then I just click on it and it logs me in. That's the only reason that I'm early.

Co-Hosts & Alternative Hosts

Another great thing that you can do is add co-hosts. If you have co-hosts turn on when you go to a meeting and you make a meeting you can add alternative hosts as well.

Alternative hosts are people who can start the meeting for you. They might be a special education teacher who's co-teaching with you, another teacher who's co-teaching, you could even have the para-professionals start the class if you know you're going to be running late.

And the co-host option is super helpful when you have other adults in your class because they get much of the same power that a host does, where they can mute people, they can use the chat, they can do all sorts of things like hosts do, but they aren't the host. And it's been amazing to have that going for my para-professionals in my class.


The other cool thing is the polls feature. It's not super perfect, but it does the job.

If you have that turned on, you can add polls either before or during a meeting. In the middle of a meeting, you can make a poll. And I've done that before. It's a little bit clunky. There are other poll things, other poll services, other poll programs, or apps that work a little bit better, but when you're in a pinch, the Zoom meeting polls work great.

Screen Share

Another thing that you can set up is so that everyone can screen-share. Obviously, you want screen-sharing on and you can set it to hosts only, but I usually have it set to all participants because there are times I want students to show me their screen, especially when the tech starts to get weird and isn't working. Then it's really helpful to be able to see their screen.

But I do have that I am the only person who can start sharing when someone else is sharing. That way nobody's trying to interrupt somebody else's screen-share, I'm the only person who can do that.


Another thing I have turned on is annotation. Students can write on a shared screen, but it's saves everything. And so if they annotate on a screen and it's something inappropriate, I have evidence and my students know this. They are fully aware of these things. I tell them all these rules and expectations upfront, and I set that foundation.

They know they shouldn't be doing this. And when they do, they understand that there will be consequences for it. And obviously, this isn't going to be detention or anything, but they're going to get a call home and we're going to talk again about the expectations for our Zoom meetings.


I also have the whiteboard on and being saved as well, for the same reason. I want to keep track of everything that happens in there.


Another really important thing for student differentiation is the nonverbal feedback in the meeting reactions. You really want to have those turned on so that students can talk to you and engage with you without having to speak in front of their classmates.

For a lot of students, speaking in class is really intimidating. And knowing that it's being recorded can be really scary and they may just not want to use the chat. If you ask, "Is everybody good? Does everybody understand what they're supposed to be doing?" they can quick do the thumbs-up reaction and they're good to go.

They're still showing you they're engaged. They're still participating in class. If you have those turned off, it's going to be a lot trickier for those students who are struggling.


Those are really the essential things within the Zoom settings. There's a lot of settings that you can play with. You can do this for days, but those are really the essential ones within the Zoom settings on the back end that you want to set up first.

Then any meeting you schedule after changing these settings will have those settings automatically. Obviously, you can change some of these once you get into the meeting. Y

ou can turn off all participants' screen-sharing within the specific meeting, or you can turn off the annotation within the specific meeting, but what's nice is that these are going to be your defaults.

Anytime you schedule a meeting, this is how it will start. This is your template and any Zoom meeting you schedule will already have these things in it. And that just takes another piece off your plate and makes life a little bit easier.

Head on over to Zoom and get these settings set up and let me know in the comments how it goes!

You can also see how I use breakout rooms in the blog post linked here!