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K-12 Technology

Jan 15, 2021 2021-01-15

Professional Growth

Facilitating Discussions Around Difficult Topics

University of Michigan’s Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) has shared “Guidelines for Discussing Difficult or High-Stakes Topics” to help educators facilitate classroom discussion around controversial issues. Whatever the context, CRLT consultants suggest structuring such discussions in a way that defines boundaries for the process and provides some degree of closure within the classroom. They also point out that such discussions are an especially important time to explicitly note expectations for respecting a range of perspectives and experiences. The guidelines focus on planning discussions on high-stakes or controversial subjects, identifying a clear purpose, establishing ground rules or guidelines, providing a common basis for understanding, creating a framework for the discussion that maintains focus and flow, including everyone, being an active facilitator, summarizing the discussion and gathering student feedback, and handling issues that involve the teacher’s identity.

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