Breakout rooms: Are they really productive?


Galilea Velasco

Many students when put into breakout rooms are left ignored in silence. such as the person on the left.

Galilea Velasco, Section Editor

Through teachers’ efforts to keep social interaction and collaboration, even through distance learning, students are put into groups on Zoom known as breakout rooms, but unfortunately they are not always effective due to students not willing to collaborate.  

There is still no excuse to not at least get your work done or communicate as to why you are not participating…”

— Antoinette Perez

Breakout rooms have the ability to teach students, “how to be leaders and take on tasks and roles…understand the value of teamwork and communicating with others to really grow,” English teacher Antoinette Perez said.  

This has proven to be no easy task for teachers since breakout rooms can often be the opposite of productive. Many students nationwide have been in breakout rooms where no one participates in the group discussion even when verbally prompted by their peers. For this reason, teachers should carefully consider the students they are assigning to a breakout room to create a more productive group discussion. 

“I don’t just randomize groups very often…I actually structure the groups so that I have high, mid, and low in all groups…That way my low students can benefit from working with the middle and higher. The higher ones are taking those leader roles to help build skills…[so they] can build off of each other,” Perez said. 

Another way teachers could help students is by planning tasks and setting clear expectations rules, checking-in, and being consistent, while also holding the students accountable instead of just expecting them to work by themselves without any guidance, Perez said.  

Teachers could plan engaging activities so that students will actually want to discuss and participate. Breakout rooms can actually provide students with an opportunity to learn from others and communicate which is a life skill after all. In short, breakout rooms could be productive if both the teachers plan effectively and students put in the effort and are willing to take risks. 

“I think with breakout rooms it allows students to have a little bit of privacy that they would have in the classroom within their group and it gives them that little bit of confidence to share in a smaller setting than with the whole class,” Perez said. 

However, there are students who still do not feel comfortable contributing to a conversation even within breakout rooms. Due to the loss of social interaction amidst the pandemic many students today get extremely anxious when asked to speak, myself included. Moreover, it is necessary to communicate and break out of our comfort zone. The more we do so, the easier it will be. 

Teachers and students also have to take in consideration that there are always going to be students who have internet connectivity issues, microphone issues, and more. However, even then we can find ways to work successfully whether that is independently or as a group. 

“There is still no excuse to not at least get your work done or communicate as to why you are not participating…” Perez said.