7 breakout sessions tips from K-12 and higher ed educators
Foster inclusive and cognitive presence in your classroom with Webex
Virtual and hybrid learning during the pandemic has put many educators to the test. While most in-classroom activities don’t necessarily translate to virtual learning quickly, some schools have discovered different approaches to push the same in-person engagement strategies in their virtual classrooms with Webex breakout sessions.
Tips to getting remote learning right
Five educators share how to integrate pre-pandemic methods into distance learning:
- Host trade symposium – High school students who haven’t be able to attend in-person events can learn from working professionals in various fields, such as construction, electrical, plumbing, project management, automobile maintenance, and other professional trades. With multiple breakout sessions running, students can get detailed information about the job skills and educational requirements and tips on what skills they can gain in high school to prepare for the workforce.
- Organize team competitions – Our school runs a “Battle of the Books” where students learn how to work together to leverage each other’s best reading and memorization traits while engaging volunteers from local military bases and retirees. Students compete based on facts they remember from 15-20 books they have read in the past school year. They meet in one room at their site and join as a group at the beginning of the day. After reviewing the rules and schedule, they’re assigned breakout rooms with 2-3 teams per room. A judge and scorekeeper lead the breakout sessions by asking questions and keeping score. The top two teams in each grade level compete against each other to determine the winner for that grade level. — Kathy New, Colorado, USA
- Focused group sessions – Our students discuss interview techniques to simulate and practice different management interview styles with multiple interviewers in a COVID-safe, remote way in breakout sessions. The professor separates in-room participants into smaller physical groups and remote participants break out into smaller virtual groups. All participants can return to the meeting at any time. An educator can use a separate personal device connected to the same session to quickly check on virtual groups and provide encouragement and support as they would for in-room participants. — David Arnold, Wollongong, Australia
- Foster connections – Break large-setting conversations into individual 1:1s for students to explore ideas they may be hesitant to discuss with the whole classroom. Alternate your students to teach them leadership skills, gradually build their self-confidence, and help them feel connected and empowered during these times. Of course, teachers can visit or remain outside the room to facilitate healthy conversations. — Elane Kalavrias, Ontario, Canada
- Student choice – Create as many opportunities as possible to empower your students to own their development. Break out your class into topics of interest or project choice to drive a more interactive group work environment during class time. Subject-based breakout sessions can become part of your classroom cadence while your students are learning at home.
- Prepare with your support staff – Use paraeducators to answer questions or advance ready learners. They can work with small groups in a virtual setting while still being connected to the entire class. — Laura Hamill, Michigan, USA
- Mentoring and coaching – Create a space in every session for private conferencing with students during class time. This space can give students a chance to take a breath and conference with you about a behavior issue, test results, and more. Individual sessions are good for morale and can help you gauge how students are doing emotionally so you can follow up with those who need your support. Breakout sessions can also be helpful for peer review before and after a formal presentation or when students hear the study from a subset of their class. — Mary Schlegelmilc, Nebraska, USA
Your students were born in the technology age. Giving them control and the space to show their learning style in real-time will spark their creativity and curiosity to learn more. With breakout sessions, you can seamlessly foster engagement in your physical and virtual classroom. Download the guide to start engaging your students.
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About the author
Storyteller. Digital experience strategist. Vanessa is obsessed with psychology and human behavior. She leverages empathy to humanize Webex endpoints and features across industries. On the Digital Experience and Enablement team, Vanessa delivers experiences that enhance customer-facing solutions and drive ongoing engagement.
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