PART II – PREPARE HOW TO GET READY FOR DISCUSSION – WITH YOUR CLASS

9

Ground Rules for Discussion
As a graduate student instructor, it is useful to learn how to balance the tensions between the need for students to take responsibility for their participation in class discussions and your own responsibility to facilitate those discussions. A useful way of handling this tension is to let students know during the first week of class (if not the very first day) your expectations for the ways in which they communicate with others (including you) in the classroom, and that they will be held accountable for communicating their ideas in respectful ways. Of course, the same guidelines are also applicable to you. It’s probably worth having a discussion and/or creating a handout about the ways that you expect the class to communicate with each other and with you. Here are some ideas you might want to address or include: • • • • Respect others’ right to hold opinions and beliefs that differ from your own. Be courteous – don’t interrupt anyone or engage in private conversations while others are speaking. If you’re not sure about something that someone said, ask for clarification. Be sure you understand others’ statements before responding. Allow everyone the chance to talk – if you have much to say, try to hold back a bit; if you are hesitant to speak, look for opportunities to contribute to the discussion. Everyone in the class will benefit from this diversity of comments. Encourage others to participate in the conversation, and try to call your classmates by name whenever possible. If you are offended by something that is said or think someone else might be, speak up, but do so in a respectful way. Come to discussions prepared by completing all your assignments. Express your disagreement by raising your hand and explaining why you disagree – do not show your disagreement by rolling your eyes, starting a conversation with a neighbor, snickering, etc. Avoid negative language or personal attacks. It is fine to criticize ideas, but not the person. Reserve questions that are only relevant to you for office hours, emails, or one-on-one conversation with the instructor.

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[Modified from handout by Nicole Stanton for Fall 2004 CRLT GSI Orientation: First Days of Teaching Workshop.]

CRLT GSI TEACHING ORIENTATION – FALL 2012

Facilitating Discussions in the Humanities

Some topics to consider include: Will everyone have a chance to talk? Will everyone be expected to talk? Will everyone know each other’s names? How? How will individuals react to opinions different than their own? Will students be allowed to have private conversations during a discussion? Is food or drink a distraction from the discussion? What should we do when someone comes in late and disrupts a discussion? Do participants have to support their points with evidence? What should we do if the discussion gets “off topic?” Conclude the activity by recording and distributing the ground rules at the beginning of your next discussion section. Begin by asking students to… 1) Think about successful discussion sections that they have experienced in other classes. Prod students to think about their own roles and responsibilities in creating an effective learning community. (They might have the inclination to comment on GSI responsibilities). By asking for their input. 3) Make a list of these ideas or attributes on the blackboard or overhead. Establishing Guidelines Activity: Consider asking your students to take a few minutes to generate their own ground rules for participation. 2) Take a minute and write down what made those sections successful. ask for a volunteer to come up to the board and record the “ground rules” that you and your class will generate based on that list. you give students a sense of ownership that can help them to take these guidelines (and the course) more seriously. The idea is to think of ground rules that will make your discussions as successful as possible.PART II – PREPARE HOW TO GET READY FOR DISCUSSION – WITH YOUR CLASS 10 Establishing Discussion Guidelines It’s a good idea to ‘set the tone’ for discussions early in the semester. Some GSIs ask their class to come up with their own guidelines. After the class has generated a list. CRLT GSI TEACHING ORIENTATION – FALL 2012 Facilitating Discussions in the Humanities .

and values. devalue. 4. Fairness. we will challenge the idea or the practice referred to. 5. 6. or "put down" people for their experiences or lack of experiences. Our primary commitment is to learn from each other. the facilitators and participants agree not to repeat remarks outside the session in any way that links these marks to the person sharing them. We acknowledge differences amongst us in backgrounds.PART II – PREPARE HOW TO GET READY FOR DISCUSSION – WITH YOUR CLASS 11 SAMPLE LIST OF GROUND RULES FOR CLASS DISCUSSION 1. 3. 2. please share this with the group. Challenge the idea and not the person. honest exchange. Trust. We realize that it is these very differences that will increase our awareness and understanding through this process. Often our emotional reactions to this process offer the most valuable learning opportunities. We will not demean. If something is bothering you. If we wish to challenge something that has been said. skills. We will trust that people are always doing the best they can. We want to create an atmosphere for open. Shared Learning. Speak your discomfort. Confidentiality. Honesty. Adapted from the Program on Intergroup Relations. Respect. not the individual sharing this idea or practice. As participants may wish to make comments that they do not want repeated outside the room. CRLT GSI TEACHING ORIENTATION – FALL 2012 Facilitating Discussions in the Humanities . interests.

Our primary commitment is to learn from each other. and will not demean. with guidance from Dr. ability. yet not enter or invade others' privacy when unwanted. but we hold each other responsible for repeating misinformation or offensive behavior after we have learned otherwise. education. or "put down" people for their experiences or lack of experiences. 12. classism. 9. The same is true about elitism and other forms of prejudice or bias -we are taught misinformation about others and ourselves. scholarly orientations and experience. values. CRLT GSI TEACHING ORIENTATION – FALL 2012 Facilitating Discussions in the Humanities . 4. from course materials and from our work. size. Ruby Beale. both to learn the material and to behave in non-biased and multi culturally productive ways. 13. geographic location etc.. We acknowledge that one of the meanings of sexism. We acknowledge that sexism. We will speak our discomfort. 3. and other forms of discrimination (religion. heterosexism. skills.. language. 11. We will share information about our groups with other members of the class. University of Michigan 1. group progress and cooperation and group gain. Victims should not be blamed for their oppression. We will assume that people are always doing the best they can. racism.PART II – PREPARE HOW TO GET READY FOR DISCUSSION – WITH YOUR CLASS 12 MULTICULTURAL GROUND RULES FOR DISCUSSION From The Program on Intergroup Relations. We will try not to blame people for the misinformation we have learned. 10. 8. 2. 7. Are there other ground rules that the class would like to add .) exist and may surface from time to time. devalue. age. We will actively pursue opportunities to learn about our own groups and those of other groups. 6. but not the person. We want to create a safe atmosphere for open discussion. We acknowledge differences amongst us in backgrounds. racism is that we have been systematically taught misinformation about our own group and members of devalued groups (this is true for both dominant and dominated group members). interests. the instructor and participants will agree not to repeat the remarks outside the session that links a person with his/her identity. classism. Therefore. 5. We will challenge the idea or the practice. We each have an obligation to actively combat the myths and stereotypes about our own groups and other groups so that we can break down the walls which prohibit individual development. Members of the class may wish to make a comment verbally or in an assignment that they do not want repeated outside the classroom.? Adapted from the Program on Intergroup Relations.