Expert helpers

We mainly have expert helpers for large workshops.

  • As an expert helper, your main job is to move between different groups and make sure that groups are doing well.

  • You might be summoned to a group whose helper needs extra help, or take the place of a helper if a group doesn’t have one.

    • Watch HackMD/Zulip for this, though requests might come in from other channels, too.

  • No one is expected to know everything, but an expert helper should be able to find a person who can answer, or confident enough to say they should move on.

  • Make sure you have a new (newer than 15 october 2020) Zoom client, so that you can join arbitrary breakout rooms.

    • If you don’t, then you have to ask to be put into some room, and then you can swap to any other room.

  • Report an overview of the pulse of the breakout rooms in zulipchat (or hackmd). Is everyone behind? People finishing early? Big differences between them? Questions which we should bring up in the main room?

  • Monitor if any team leaders need extra help or training. Should we improve our team leader training?


There’s not much difference between a team leader and expert helper, but we envision this role standing by and jumping into rooms when there’s a difficult problem.

  • Sometimes, you wait around for a problem that needs your attention. But it’s better to be proactive and go into the rooms yourself and check them out. Talk to the organizers/instructors to see which you should do.

  • You aren’t assigned to particular breakout room, but you can switch between them (but it’s not obvious how):

    • To do this, you do get assigned into one room initially. Join that room. After you are in the room, click on “Breakout Rooms”, and then Join to switch to a different room of your choice.

    • You also always have the option “Leave breakout room” (if in a room) or “Join your assigned room” (if in main room and assigned one).

  • Your role is to switch between breakout rooms and check up on them.

    • e.g. join room 1, take a look/ask how it is, then join room 2, then 3, then back to 1, and repeat.

    • Of course, stay in one longer, if it’s needed.

    • Make a note of any important questions to be asked in the main room afterwards.

  • Try to divide up the breakout rooms between the staff, and try to join and catch up with the same rooms (this promotes familiarity).

    • E.g. A rotates between rooms 1-3, B gets rooms 4-7, C gets rooms 8-11.

  • Make sure to watch the HackMD for expert helper requests, this could help you decide which room to jump to next. Comment when you are heading there.

Concrete example for an expert helper’s time:

  • I join breakout room 5 randomly. I spend 15 seconds watching, then ask if things are going OK. If everything is good, I move on within a minute since I am not needed (if there is a good break, I’ll ask “everything OK? good, see you around.”). If there are questions that I can help with, I answer them. If they seem to be struggling, then I will make a note in the HackMD and stay a while longer and watch/help.

Common issues and solutions

  • A room is very slow, the person sharing the screen is working quite slowly.

    • Kindly suggest that you or someone else take over and go through it faster

    • Yes, this is hard to say nicely

  • No one wants to take initiative and screen share

    • If you think everyone is confident enough, this can be OK

    • But especially at the beginning of the workshops, you can share your own screen and go along with people.

  • Someone is having trouble installing software

    • “Perhaps we can take a look at this after the workshop? We try to make sure everything is installed beforehand, but “

Other reference: