Go First

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had my first few online uni seminars. Since universities made the decision to teach online, I’ve noticed there have been a few teething problems for both teachers and students.

This is understandable, given that these institutions have taught the same way for centuries. They have failed to truly change and evolve with the times.

One new problem is when teachers send the class off into Zoom Breakout Rooms. These allow the teacher to split a bigger class into smaller groups, to work on tasks or projects together. 

The problem arises when no-one wants to speak. The Breakout Rooms tool is there to stimulate discussion in a “safer” environment, if students feel uncomfortable speaking up in front of the whole ‘lecture theatre’. 

Yet, when no-one goes first, no-one speaks. Everyone is waiting: cameras and microphones turned off.

Who will do it?

I acknowledge that it’s hard to speak up and go first. I’m anxious before every Zoom call I join. I don’t want people looking at me. I worry what I look like. I worry about my internet connection failing and my sound being poor. 

But someone has to go first. Only then can we encourage others to contribute and help build others’ confidence up too. 

I don’t think it’s a case of always not knowing the answer. It’s the same as in the real lecture theatres. No-one wants to speak up and ask a question or say the answer. A lot of people know it, but we’re embarrassed.

What will the Others think? 

“I don’t want to seem like a know-it-all”

I found that when I go first and break the ice. It’s so much easier. We get the work done. We move forward.

If no-one goes first, everyone is waiting and frustrated until the teacher drops in to get the discussion going. It shouldn’t have to be this way.

We need to take responsibility for our own learning. We’re all students. We want to learn.

But someone has to go first.

In what areas of your life do you take the lead? Are you a leader in the work you do? What would it take for you to go first?

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