My connection with the instructor in the article by Clarke & Holwadel (2007) "Help! What Is Wrong With These Literature Circles and How Can We Fix Them?" is minimal. After reading of the teacher’s struggles I was reminded how very blessed I am with the group I currently teach.
There are no issues with community among my students. All are same race and socio-economic level, come from families with similar political affiliations, values and beliefs. I also have no issues with students coming or going, thus no revolving door issues. I have rarely witnessed issues of unkindness or any sort, or the use of inappropriate words. There are no feelings of hostility displayed. I do not struggle with issues related to interruptions. My class meets every Friday from 8:30 – 4:45. There are no disturbances to our schedule during this time - although I do have to cover history, and science as well as language arts during this time period. Students do not switch teachers during this day. So I don’t have to deal with the issues related to that either.
I think that two of the concerns mentioned may be a problem for me when I begin to implement my first literature circles. One is that I have been presenting material in one fashion for several years, as prescribed by the program for which I work. This new method of student led discussion will be a great change for my students, and I expect it will take a few sessions for all of us to adjust.
The other obstacle discussed in the article, which I feel I may encounter is sharing airtime. I do have one student who would try to dominate the conversation if I am not a direct part of it. I will use the poker chips idea to try to head this off. I will need to give mini lessons on listening to other’s ideas and perhaps have that student be the one who “reports in” what the team discussed to ensure that he is listening to others.
I am sure I will encounter other problems when I begin. Perhaps there will be problems that others have not faced, as my group is so atypical.
Wish me luck!