This spring I experimented with student facilitation for the first time in my English 255 course, “Re-figuring the Global.” Although I have always asked my students to present on their blog responses, this semester I decided to go one step further by making them actively responsible for stimulating and shaping class discussion. Naturally, I had some anxieties about executing this in class and how students might respond to the added pressure, but I am glad I took the risk. My students went above and beyond any expectations I had for this experiment- the different approaches they took to facilitating class conversation were incredibly generative and energizing, especially for a class that met at 7:45am.
I also found that more students participated this semester than in previous years. Although this could have just been because I had an amazing group, I also think it’s because they were more comfortable dialoguing with each other than with me constantly leading the discussion. I have learned so much from listening to their conversations, which allowed me to see texts I have read three or four times over in radically different and inspiring ways. I have also learned a lot about myself as a teacher from this semester– about when to stand back and let students grapple with uncomfortable classroom silences and when to intervene to provide necessary information about historical and political contexts that can enrich our engagements with the text.