Facilitating interaction between a group of online students is a challenge.
Today in TA we blew off the planned lesson and spent the entire session talking about what it’s like to have over-protective parents, or to be an only child, and how tiresome the responsibilities of older siblings toward their younger siblings can be. Seven of eight students were engaged. The eighth disappeared to the bathroom at some point, and when I called his name several times to try and involve him, his older sibling chimed in because of course he was listening to the conversation. I mean, it was impassioned and riveting!
I’m not even sure how it began. I typically start TA by putting a question in the chat. What is your passion? How does rain make you feel, and why? If you could order dinner from anywhere in Arlington tonight, where would you chose?
Today I began with a request. List three specific things you plan to do over Spring Break. Once we got past the “eat, sleep, and play video games” type answers I urged them to really think about how they would like to spend their time, so they don’t just wake up in ten days wishing they’d done something besides eat, sleep, and play video games. That’s when it all began.
“You’re allowed to walk to Bancroft on your own? Wow! My mom would NEVER let me do THAT!”
“Sometimes I with I had someone to hang out with. You’re lucky you live with a cousin!”
“At least you don’t have to be responsible for a little sister whenever your parents are busy. Your only have to be responsible for yourself!”
The circles lit up one after another, and those who couldn’t get a word in verbally used the chat to contribute to the conversation. None of us could believe how fast TA time flew by, today.
Today in TA felt like a turning point.