All educators will tell you that being proficient in their core subject areas is a very small part of the job. There’s so much more that goes into teaching than just knowing all of the materials they’ll present throughout the school year. Teachers are constantly creating dynamic lesson plans, completing assessments, and pivoting as needed to meet each student’s needs. And one thing that all teachers struggle with in the classroom is increasing student engagement.
Student engagement is pivotal when it comes to learning, and studies have shown that the more engaged a student is during the learning process, the more information they will retain for years to come. So it’s incredibly important that students are actively involved in the learning process and seen as important members of a learning community.
Sitting in rows, listening to a lecture, and taking notes never leads to real learning for most students. In fact, for most students, it only encourages them to mentally check out, to get behind, and to stop caring about school entirely.
So educators nowadays focus on strategies that encourage real learning for all students. Studies have shown that for real learning to take place, students must work together to find an answer, solve a problem, or face a challenge with real-life applications. And that’s why small group learning is the key to seeing better results in schools.
With small group learning activities, students are actively engaged with their peers instead of hiding in the back of the classroom. They learn how to work in teams, they develop leadership skills, and they feel more confident in speaking up than they often do in front of a large classroom. During small group learning, students also hold each other accountable, making sure that every member contributes, and they practice working with people from different backgrounds than their own.
And as more students enroll in online learning each year, these same benefits can be seen in virtual classrooms that provide small-group learning opportunities through the use of breakout rooms. With breakout rooms, teachers can assign students to a small group based on their reading or skill levels, the results of their latest assessment, or even a random selection of their peers.
The teacher can then check in with each small group individually, monitor student progress, assist groups as needed, and then bring the whole class back together to share their findings. Small group learning has always freed the teacher up to move among groups in the classroom to facilitate learning, answer questions, and encourage students to take new directions. And now with breakout rooms in virtual classrooms, both teachers and students can enjoy all of the many benefits of small group learning opportunities in a new virtual environment.
Dynamic virtual classrooms are changing the way students learn online, and they have the potential to reach even more students from around the world as they work together to make meaning. Small group learning through breakout rooms is only one way that teachers educate students, but it’s a proven strategy that gets impressive results.