The Power of the Breakout Room

My heart used to skip a beat every time my professor on my Zoom call said, “Okay, now I am going to put you all into Breakout Rooms”.  Oh no. Here we go. Everybody turn off your mute button. 

I stressed about how to keep the conversation going, or what was expected of us during the short amount of time we had in this breakout room, but then I quickly learned: everyone is thinking the same exact thing! Everybody is just trying their best to pay close enough attention and try and gain a slight understanding of what is going on.

Once school was in full swing and everyone was getting the hang of waiting to see who was in their assigned breakout room while the computer was loading, I learned to embrace the new normal and make the best of it. I still get nervous waiting to see the other squares who are also assigned to the breakout room; however, I view it more as an opportunity to get to know my other classmates since who knows if you will ever actually meet them in person? It is almost like speed dating (minus the dating part) and you can just chat about anything you want.

I found it the most interesting when I would ask if they were living in Lawrence (where the university is) or if they have opted to live somewhere else due to classes being online. It was not uncommon for people to be living in their hometown, or somewhere beyond where KU actually is in order to save money.  Not only did I start vibing with other classmates in my classes, but I kind of grew from an anxious state of mind to more of a mindset of this being an exciting opportunity to continue to meet other students at KU and get to know them “beyond the Zoom classroom”. Just because we are not physically able to learn and get to know each other does not mean we do not still have the opportunity to ask questions and get to know our fellow classmates. 


So this is my encouragement to you, next time you are in that breakout room and you just honestly have no idea what is going on (which I can guarantee you; you are not alone) ask them how they are doing, or what they have planned the rest of the day. Do not hesitate to turn off that black screen and show your face; you have got this. It very well may be the most awkward conversation of your life, but it also could very well be a great conversation and allow you to get to know a face you have seen on your screen for weeks.