Liberating Structures, Ongoing engagement

Troika Consulting – Adaptation for Class Community Building

Get students used to supporting each other without always turning to an “expert” for solutions.

Click on the CC icon in the bottom right corner of the video to turn on closed captions.  

Troika Consulting – Adaptation for Class Community Building
Educator prep: None
Student prep: None
Breakout rooms
Duration: 5-30 mins

Activity purpose

Get students used to supporting each other and helping each other without always turning to an “expert” or teacher to solve problems; also useful for quick problem-solving.

Useful for

You can use this any time during the semester to encourage students to self-reflect on challenges they’re facing and benefit from their colleagues’ input. At the beginning of the semester it could be a challenge related to learning online last semester; in the middle of the semester while working on a large research paper, they could discuss challenges in that paper for example.


None from the teacher; you can ask students ahead of time to bring a challenge they are facing with them (or do another activity immediately before it like Spiral Journal where you ask them to reflect on their challenges).


In three rounds, one person from a trio acts as a “client” and two as “consultants”.

The in-person description is described here:

For online, the action of “client turning their back” can be done by the client turning off their video and muting.


Explaining the activity would take around 2-3 minutes (or you can send students our video above ahead of time by way of explanation).

Each consultation round should take around 9-10 minutes.

Doing three rounds would therefore take 27-30 minutes.

Debrief can be done synchronously when students return to the main room, or by asking students to take notes in a shared Google doc, or individually in reflections they send the teacher or share with the rest of the class. It is important that in sharing out, people who came with a challenge are the ones who have the agency to share about what they learned (rather than the consultants).

Adaptations and examples

  • You might do some activities (before class, or during class but before the Troika time) to help students refine the challenge they will share with others.
  • If you have several students with connectivity issues, you can either:
    • Have students meet in trios outside class time and do the activity on their own, and reflect later or report back.
    • Put students in groups of four instead of three, just in case one person drops off.
    • Keep students who have connectivity issues in the main room.

Technical requirements

Breakout rooms.

Useful resources

More 'Liberating Structures' activities:
Equity Unbound Activity
PowerPoint Karaoke
Engage students in improv presenting, and enhance oral presentation skills in a light and humorous way.
Maha Bali, Jasmina Najjar, Hoda Mostafa
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Tiny Tales
Encourage short, focused storytelling, easy to share with others, writing stories in 100 words (or fewer), or 6 words or 2 sentences, etc.
Laura Gibbs
Equity Unbound Activity
Cognitive/exam Wrappers for Metacognition
Help students reflect on their exam/assessment performance in order to improve future performance in your course.
Maha Bali

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