I'm lucky enough to teach at a school where the individual works together for the betterment of the community, where political affiliation was set aside to create a safe space after the election fall-out for student voice, and where student opinion is not only valued but also encouraged. So, when students requested several years ago at mid-semester evaluations that I include more time for seminar discussion, I listened.
Over the winter break of the 14-15 school year, I set out to explore, and for that matter re-explore, student-led discussion strategies that would empower students to take ownership in the discussion of text. I had dabbled in several methods but never found the one that quite fit my teaching and organizational style. It was only a chance conversation via Twitter with a local upper school principal that I discovered the Harkness Method.
Two years later, I have fully integrated student-led discussion into my curriculum where 75% of class days are discussion and the remaining 25% are used for writing workshops and conferences. Students now enter my class with stories of how conversation about the text is taking place during study halls. They are challenging their peers respectfully and civilly and exploring the nuances of the text without me. For some teachers, this may be daunting. I, on the other hand, am elated.
I have defined Intentional Colloquy as a dialogic space for empowering discourse in the things that matter in English education. But, Intentional Colloquy is so much more than that, and it is not just for English educators. It is high-level discussion. It is relational. It is the tipping point on a journey to the heart of the matter, and I invite you to join me.