Zoom Breakout Rooms

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Zoom breakout iconBreakout rooms are sessions that are split off from the main Zoom meeting. They allow the participants to meet in smaller groups. Breakout rooms can be used for collaboration and discussion of the meeting. 

  • Teachers (meeting hosts) control the creation and assignment of individuals to breakout rooms.
  • NOTE: Users using Chromebooks/Chrome OS are unable to join breakout rooms, but the main room can be used as an alternative session for these users. 


 Teaching StrategiesTeaching Strategies

Small Groups & Group Work

Think about Breakout Rooms as small groups or group work in your classroom and consider these pre-planning questions.

  • How many rooms/groups you will need?
  • Who will be working together in a room?

  Move Around the Room

Just like you would move around the classroom and work with small groups, make visits in and among your various breakout rooms frequently to ensure students are on task and engaged. Listen to the discussions or focus the group. If you have an alternative host or co-host you should pre-plan which rooms everyone will visit, supervise, and monitor.

 Features & Functions   Functions & Features

Enable Breakout Rooms

The Breakout Room feature has to be turned on in your Zoom account before you can use breakout rooms during a meeting.

1. Sign into your Zoom account at www.zoom.us

2. Go to your Settings > Meeting tab and look for the Breakout Room option and make sure it is turned ON.

 breakout room instruction 

Note: If the option is grayed out, it has been locked by your school or district and you will need to check with your district’s Zoom admin. 

Learn more: About Enabling Breakout Rooms 



Once the feature is enabled for your account, during any meeting you will find the Breakout Rooms icon in your meeting control bar along the bottom of your screen. 

 breakout room toolbar icon highlighted 

Only the host, alternative host or co-host can see and manage breakout rooms. The Host can make any participant a co-host of the meeting at any time as long as they have the co-host option TURNED ON in their Zoom Account Settings > Meeting area.



In the Create Breakout Room pop-up window, you first enter the total number of rooms you would like to create. Then, you may choose to either have Zoom automatically assign and distribute meeting participants to rooms OR you may manually assign participants to rooms. Click the Create Breakout Rooms button.

 assigning breakout rooms 

If you choose to manually assign participants, click on the Assign link next to each room to select which participants you wish to have join that room.

Click Options for helpful options to begin and manage your breakout rooms.

• Move all participants into breakout rooms automatically (if this is disabled, participants will need to click Join to go to the breakout room).

• Allow participants to return to the main session at any time (If this is disabled, participants need to wait for the host to end the breakout rooms).

• Breakout rooms close automatically after X minutes.

• Notify me when the time is up.

• Countdown after closing breakout rooms (participants will see a countdown of remaining time before being returned to the main room).

 zoom assign breakout room 

Click the Open All Rooms button to begin your Breakout Rooms session.



Once you begin a breakout session, participants will be asked to join the their breakout room (or will be automatically moved to their room if you choose that option above). The Host will stay in the main meeting until manually joining a session. Participants who have not moved to a breakout room will be noted by “(not joined)” displayed next to their name.

  • Hosts/Co-Hosts can broadcast messages to all participants. For example…
    • “Join the breakout room.”
    • “Leave the room and return to the main meeting.”
    • “Close All Rooms.” Stops all rooms after a 60-second countdown which is shown to all participants and automatically returns everyone back to the main meeting.
  • Host can respond to "Ask for Help" requests from Participants.
    Participants click on the “Ask for Help” button in their meeting control bar.

     breakout room toolbar icon highlighted 

  • RECORDING NOTE: If you are “cloud” recording your meeting, it will only record the main room, regardless of what room the meeting host is in.

    BEFORE opening your breakout rooms, if “local” recording is enabled in your Zoom Account and you have a co-host(s), you may grant them the “Allow Record” option from the meeting Participant panel and their recording will record the breakout room they are in.

     zoom allow record 


Learn More:

 Teaching Tips icon  Teaching Tips

Plan, Practice, and Rest if you Wish to Consider Recording

You will need a participant in each room and grant each person the “Allow Record” ability via the Participants Panel. These could be co-teachers or teaching assistants you make “Co-Hosts” of your meeting.

NOTE: this would also require the ability to use “local” vs. “cloud” recording in your Account Settings which may or may not be allowed in your organization.

Recordings would allow participants to revisit and review the meeting to finish their breakout session work offline. As the teacher you can hear the discussions that where taking place in different rooms if you allowed other co-hosts participating in those rooms to record.


Bring Together, Return to Breakout

You can return all students back to the main meeting room for whole group instruction and then recreate and move students to breakout sessions at any time during your meeting.


You’re Either in Breakout, or in Main

Note, that students cannot freely join another breakout room. They can leave their breakout room (if allowed) and return to the main room only, or leave the meeting altogether.