Author Archives: Heather Edwards

February 9th Presentation–Empowering Students and Fostering Self-Confident Participants

Hello all.

For my presentation I wanted to focus on thinking about ways to empower students to be active participants. Class discussions are central to the kinds of work (analyzing interpretations of texts, thinking critically about rhetorical choices, approaching academic work as conversation) that English classes promote. However, I often find that despite my best efforts, discussions are often controlled by a small few and can be marked by silences and blank stares. I am interested in thinking through what prevents more active participation in classes, and one thing I keep coming back to in my classes is that my students often don’t have confidence in their voices or in the idea that their voices really matter. Worried about being wrong or perhaps believing I don’t really want their opinions but am looking for one right answer, they remain silent.  In the process of trying to seek out ways of countering this potential lack of self-confidence, I ran across the following essay that addresses some potential reasons for the lack of active participation in classroom discussions.  I also plan to share some of the techniques I have used to try to counter this lack of self-confidence and would love other suggestions and strategies!

Creating an articulate classroom

Heather