I had the weirdest interaction with my discussion session today. For some reason when I tried to discuss fire ecology with them, a couple of people started giggling. I only got a few more sentences out when the giggling spread to more people.

I haven’t had problems with giggling before and the only thing I could think of was that someone was amused by the way I said the word “fire.” You might remember the way Beavis, ala “Beavis and Butthead” used to say “Fire…fire…he..he..he,” in that weird way. I have a friend that for some reason does Beavis and Butthead imitations sometimes, so that’s what came to my mind.

So I tried asking the students what was so funny, not it an accusing way, but simply that they might want to share so that we could all have a laugh and then move on with the discussion. Of course I didn’t say anything so clear to them, I just sort of asked what the giggling was about. They didn’t want to say anything as they were trying to stifle it. So I just moved on to a new topic, but I felt like someone who discovers that her fly is down in the middle of an oral report. I had discussed the topic with my other two discussion sections without any giggling, so I don’t know what the problem was.

The truth is that I’m never sure how discussion groups are going, especially since lectures for this class have been so scattered and confusing. I’m spending some of the discussion session trying to provide students with a framework for fitting together so many disparate lecture topics. I haven’t put much effort into discussing the readings because they don’t fit very closely with the lectures and so I’m not always sure how to put everything together. Most of my effort has been put into giving the students some direction and help with the assignments. It’s really difficult to set up any real discussion when most students don’t attend lecture and don’t do the readings. Although the lecturer keeps on trying to require them to draw on the themes from the lectures and the readings in their assignments, there really is no way for them to make a direct connection since the first assignment was an autobiography and the second was a creative writing assignment.

I’m so ready for this class to be over.

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