Recently, I’ve been experimenting with teaching class with and without breakout groups. I think that, in a class setting, breakout groups arranged by rank/skill level can be beneficial. However, lately, I’ve begun to reconsider whether breakout groups, from an instructor perspective, is all that beneficial.

Teaching in a breakout group format involves a fair bit of work shuttling back and forth between different breakout groups and checking on their progress, particularly if you are reviewing curriculum requirements. It can get a bit hectic when dealing with more than two breakout groups.

One experiment that I’ve done recently is just to teach different levels of the curriculum to the entire class rather than by breakout groups. This has been in the context of a curriculum review for an upcoming grading/testing. This approach has been less chaotic and has allowed me to do a more focused job of teaching.

There are several advantages to this approach. First, the advanced students can review and strengthen their basics. Secondly, the lower ranked students have the opportunity to get a taste of the advanced curriculum material. Thirdly, with respect to curriculum review, the senior students have the opportunity to refine their teaching when paired up with a junior.

What about when we are not doing curriculum review for an upcoming grading?

I generally cover conceptual material such as the Bamboo Spirit Flow Drills, joint lock flows, and the anyos. After this month’s grading is completed, I intend to cover a good number of the flow drills until the next grading which will take place in December.  Except for complete newbies, the entire class can work on the flow drills. For the most part, breakout groups are not needed for this.

One of the flow drills that I teach in class without breakout groups.

I’ve gotten very positive feedback from the class on this approach. Due to this, I will likely do less of the breakout groups. However, I will not abandon it in its entirety.

Over to you, what do you think?

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