How To: Manage Breakout Rooms In Zoom

Updated: Nov 15, 2020

Want your students to work together and collaborate without you doing all of the heavy lifting? Use the best features in Zoom Breakout rooms based on best practices below!


Tip 1: Employ multiple devices so you can monitor multiple Breakout Rooms at the same time.

Use multiple devices to be able to monitor multiple breakout rooms at the same time! You can be signed in to Zoom on one computer, one tablet, and one phone at a time. In other words, you can not sign in simultaneously on two computers or two phones or two tablets.

BUT you can download zoom on each device and NOT log in - just join the meeting without signing into zoom.


On each device you have:

  1. Download and open the Zoom app.

  2. Click Join a Meeting if you want to join without signing in.

  3. Enter the meeting ID number and your display name.

  4. Name your devices "Teacher 1," "Teacher 2," "Teacher 3," "Teacher 4," etc.

  5. Don't connect with audio and/or video besides the one you will be sharing your screen from.

  6. Click Join.

  7. When it's time for breakout rooms, assign each of your devices to a different room so you can see what is going on in every breakout room at the same time.


Tip 2: name your breakout rooms something helpful.

Make it simple and something that makes sense to you just in case students join the call late, you move around between breakout rooms, etc. Every time you have a new meeting or recreate any breakout rooms, the breakout rooms will start with the generic "Breakout Room #" convention. Only the host can assign participants to breakout rooms.


From your main device (where you are screen sharing from):

  1. Click Breakout Rooms.

  2. Select the number of rooms you would like to create, and how you would like to assign your participants to those rooms:

  3. Automatically: Let Zoom split your students up evenly into each of the rooms.

  4. Manually: Choose which students you would like in each room.

  5. Click Create Breakout Rooms. Your rooms will be created, but will not start automatically.

  6. If you chose Manually, now assign your students to breakout rooms.

  7. Select Assign next to the room you wish to assign students to and select the students you want to assign to that room. Repeat this for each room, but keep the groups 4 or less! The number of students will show in place of the Assign button.

  8. If you make a mistake in putting students into rooms, you can rearrange the participants using Move to (participant) to select a room to move the students to or Exchange (participant): to swap students between rooms.

  9. If you make a mistake with the number of rooms, click Delete Room to delete the selected room or Recreate to delete existing breakout rooms and creates new ones.


Tip 3: Update the breakout room settings to give you precise control.

After creating the breakout rooms but before you launch the breakout rooms, click Options to view additional breakout rooms options. Here's what we suggest that should be checked:

  • Move all participants into breakout rooms automatically: using this means that all students will be put into the breakout rooms automatically. This way you don't have to spend time telling kids to click the breakout room button.

  • Allow participants to return to the main session at any time: Check this so that individual students can rejoin the main room if they need to - don't hold students hostage in their breakout rooms!

  • Breakout rooms close automatically after x minutes: Set the timer so students can see how much time they have left for their task. It'll show in the top right of their breakout room screen.

  • Notify me when the time is up: This allows you to keep breakout rooms open if the timer is on but more time is needed.

  • Countdown after closing breakout rooms: On the screen, this setting allows everyone in the breakout room to know they have so many seconds left before the breakout room closes and they are automatically put back into the main room. This allows a quick wrap-up for students before they are returned to the main room. I like 15 seconds.


Tip 4: Create an extra breakout room from the start.

This is a great option for having a space you can meet with students in individually or with co-teachers to plan or adjust in the moment. You can move participants into this room as you need.


Click on Add a Room after you make the amount of rooms you need and rename it to something like "Teacher's Desk" or "Teacher's Lounge."


Tip 5: Make sure students know to ask for help and share their screen with their breakout room.

Participants in breakout rooms can request that the meeting host join their meeting by clicking Ask for Help in their Zoom breakout room toolbar.

You, the host, will be prompted to join that room. Click Join Breakout Room to join the room.


Encourage students to share their screen with each other to limit tech issues and increase engagement.


Tip 6: Turn off your camera and mic and jump around.

Turning your camera off prevents students from immediately asking you a question when you join their breakout room. You want students to work with each other, not just interact with you! Just observe and jump in only if they are really, really stuck. There is benefit in students figuring it out for themselves!


Once you click Open All Rooms, you (the host) will be left in the main meeting. Any co-host you have can leave and join any breakout room only if they join a breakout room assigned to them by the host.

  1. Check for participants who haven't joined the breakout rooms yet (If a participant has not joined the session yet, it will be noted by (not joined) next to their name). Call out their name and ask them if they need help. They may have another window active instead of the Zoom window and once they click on the Zoom window, with the Move all participants into breakout rooms automatically setting active, Zoom will automatically move them into the assigned breakout room.

  2. Check for participants who aren't assigned to a breakout room yet in your breakout room tab. Assign them now and wait for them to join the breakout room. Again, with the Move all participants into breakout rooms automatically setting active, Zoom will automatically move them into the assigned breakout room.

  3. Once the main room is empty, Click breakout rooms in your toolbar then Join each breakout room in turn (or use your multiple devices to observe in each breakout room.

  4. While breakout rooms, you can also do the following while you are inside of breakout rooms by clicking Breakout Rooms.

  • Leave: Leave the room and return to the main meeting (only shows when in a breakout room).

  • Close All Rooms: Stops all rooms after the 15 second countdown, shown to the host and participants, and returns all participants back to the main meeting.


Tip 7: Use the "broadcast" feature a lot.

Keep your students on track by broadcasting reminders of what they should be focused on, how much time they have left, what resources they should be using, what they should be discussing, or even just some positive affirmations about what you are seeing!


Once breakout rooms have started no matter where you are (the main room or a breakout room):

  1. Click Breakout Rooms in the meeting toolbar.

  2. Click Broadcast a message to all, enter your message and click Broadcast.

  3. The message will now appear for all participants in breakout rooms.


I hope this helps you! Feel Free to share widely!

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