Sometimes you just need to talk it out

To some extent I should probably apologize. It was likely very jarring having been required to re-read the text a second time and then answer questions you weren’t ready for. I was very glad that the conversation went well, but it at many times had been hanging only by a thread. I guess that much is to be expected, given how difficult a piece “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” is to plan a class discussion around. Conversation can snowball a variety of ways.

I very much value the power of good writing prompts. They’re great introspective thinking to prepare students. But for my micro-teach, I did not want that. I wanted to talk it out; I find that talking things out sorts a lot of confusion, especially when it comes to difficult texts.

Perhaps the one mistake I made was in hoping to get to the essence of the story in a matter of minutes. But even still, it was certainly fun to try. Non-directive teaching is probably something everyone was familiar with. To ask questions—and have students answer them—is nothing new or revolutionary. But when it comes to Hemingway’s work, at least with this story, it works best to dig deep, immediately. I’m still not 100% certain that I asked the right questions, which is something that I’ve taken into consideration. I guess one thing that’s worth mentioning is that I certainly would have taught it a different way approaching ENGH 101-level students. What I was trying to get across in my micro-teach was more about style than substance, however; and I took advantage of the higher reading level of the classroom and “dug deep” in ways that was meant to intentionally challenge.

And if that felt like an ambush—once again—I must apologize. But it was a lot of fun to engage in group discussion of the piece, and to do so with such a well versed audience in literary studies. It was certainly an exceptional learning experience, and great practice for one such as myself with no directly relate-able teaching experience: one of the better moments of what compiles a very successful semester course in teaching instruction.