Discussion in the classroom

I feel like I can foster pretty good discussions in the classroom, and many students will talk and share. I feel like I’m really good at using silence and paraphrasing what students have said. However, I’ve also started to realize that all discussions are filtered to me. Students talk to me, rather than too each other, even when we’re in a circle. I wonder how I can address this. It’s so hard to build student-to-student relationships in a ten week quarter, but I believe it can be done. I want my students to talk to each other. I don’t want to be the facilitator all the time (sometimes, I believe it is necessary, but not all the time).

How do I work to have students talk to each other about issues and ideas, not to me?

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2 Responses to Discussion in the classroom

  1. Vicki TB says:

    Getting students to talk to each other is a challenge for teachers–even those of us who have been at it a long time. Breaking into groups helps them to talk to each other, and this has worked well for me in some large classes like Intro to Poetry. While we’d like to have the student-student engagement happen voluntarily, I think with first year students especially lots of pairing for brief conversations about a topic or brief sharing of a writing-to-learn exercise can get them more comfortable with each other and more likely to engage. When this sort of exchange you seek really really happens, it can be very electric and memorable for the students (I think) and teachers (I know). I still remember a class from 1978 (can you believe it?) when I was teaching at a historically black university in NC and for one hour the students forgot it was a class and started talking to each other with startling honesty about human potential for change. There was a former gang leader from the Richmond projects, a dentist’s daughter, a kid from Harlem, and on and on. A very diverse though all black classroom (except for the teacher.) I learned more in that hour than in many whole courses I have taken. Keep working for that student-to-student exchange, Michael. It will happen. vtb

  2. Michael says:

    Thanks for the encouraging words! That sounds like a wonderful experience you had in NC – wow!

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