On Monday, October 21st, I prepared questions and led the class discussion of the first part of Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon. Overall, I thought the discussion went well and I’m content with the questions I proposed. One big takeaway for me is that while preparation is key, prepare for the unexpected. While I knew that one of my classmates would be missing from the discussion, I had not anticipated a second classmate would also be missing. For an already small class, this is a significant reduction. I was experiencing slight nervousness but once I realized that the number of participants in the discussion had been reduced so significantly, my nerves became increasingly agitated. I became even more nervous when we set-up the virtual classroom so that the others could still participate. I don’t know that I would have done anything differently; but, I have learned to be a bit more flexible.
Aside from nerves, the other observation I have on preparedness is that I had anticipated certain reactions or responses to my questions. I felt this was needed in order to anticipate whether my questions were sufficient to lead an entire discussion. However, in doing this, I worry I steered the direction of the conversation to my interpretation of the text. I do not think that I did this for every question; but, I do think I did this for one question.
The one thing that I would have changed is the phrasing of my last question around the research methodology. I tried to link this to the text and I do not think this was necessary. I would have proposed a more general question around the oral history methodology. This is where the conversation went; but this is not how I wrote the question.
Lastly, I really wanted to be a part of the discussion because I really love this novel. And, while the reduction in class size a first provided some anxiety, it was also beneficial as it allowed for me to be a more active participant in the conversation. It’s hard to tell because we can’t observe the unknown, but I think i may have struggled to sit out the conversation if there were more active participants. I obviously cannot say that with certainty; but, I felt I restrained myself with only 2 discussion companions and can only assume I would have felt more restrained.
Overall, my reflections can be summed up as being prepared is incredibly important; but, it is equally important to be flexible. Prepare for unexpected deviations and be flexible in allowing the discussion to flow organically.