Okay, so as far as general characteristics, I prefer Hangouts where there is an equal distribution of participation. I think it helps to have a single facilitator who elicits comments from all the participants. I think it also really helps to have some kind of prep materials – even something as simple as a list of questions that will be considered, so I don’t feel like I’m entering the conversation “cold.”
As far as topics, here are the burning questions on my mind right now. 🙂
* What would happen if I mapped my view of the power relationships at my school? What would happen if I asked my students about their perceptions of these power relations? Will these perceptions change if I give students more autonomy in my classroom?
* What do we mean when we ask “who has power in our school/university/learning space?” E.g., are we talking about power over resources? Power over expected outcomes? Power over evaluation and “gatekeeping”? All of the above? How might my inquiry into democratizing learning spaces change depending on which aspect of power I am considering?
* To what degree do people cede power to others at our school? If teachers/administrators/staff cede power to students and families, will this affect outcomes positively?
* How can we learn about teaching from other fields? For example, I’m reading a book about women in the Resistance in France. I recently read and was deeply moved by the obituary of Nicholas Winton, who saved over 600 children from the Nazis in Czechoslovakia in 1938 & 1939. How can these stories act as models of what is possible for human beings to accomplish? How can learning (and writing) about the people we admire – religious leaders, activists, “ordinary” people who perform acts of kindness – inform and sustain our efforts to build learning spaces & communities that are more humane & compassionate?