Discussion Feedback: The Strategic Pause

I was reminded yesterday of the power of making the invisible visible . . . or providing new views of routine behaviors. Though this diagram is messy, it helped me to show my class the pattern of one of our discussions.

About halfway through, when the diagram was half complete, I took a strategic pause, stopped the conversation, and showed the diagram to the students. Several students who had not participated at that point showed up with renewed vigor after they did not see arrows coming from their names. They wanted to show up in the diagram.

I like using diagram sketches mid-conversation to offer feedback to a discussion-in-progress. It works. Next time, with this particular group, I’m planning to write TE on lines to indicate when a student uses actual textual evidence to support a point. After that, I’ll notate for gender, comment type, and other items that will allow me to show students, with great clarity, what I truly value as a discussion leader.

You can always teach with more precision.

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