Ep 12 - How to Keep a Discussion on Track: Five Simple Tools to Stop a Talkative Student from Derailing the Group

Picture it:

You’re teaching a discussion-based class. It could be anything–a first year seminar, an intermediate tutorial for majors, a capstone group–whatever.

You’ve got a certain amount of material to cover and have worked hard to create an agenda that, if you can get the timing right, will help the group arrive at the biggest take-aways by the end of the class period.

Despite your best efforts to keep everyone engaged and on track, there are a few students who often shift the discussion off topic and derail the class.

With each anecdote, rumination, or pontification they offer, the group is carried further and further away from the agenda you so carefully crafted.

Each time one of them starts up on another tangent, you can feel your own frustration and exasperation setting in.

You struggle with how to welcome their input but also shut down these unproductive side quests.

Sound familiar?

Keeping a discussion on track is one of the biggest challenges facilitators share with me.

Maintaining focus can often be challenging because kind-hearted facilitators who want to make space for all of their students to learn, aren’t always sure of how to find an effective balance between welcoming everyone’s contributions and limiting contributions that take away from the discussion goals.

In today’s episode of Let’s Talk Facilitation, I share five simple, practical, and effective tools to stop one or several talkative students from derailing the group.

Just think about how good it will feel–and how much time you will save and stress you will avoid–when you’ve figured out how to nip this problem in the bud!