Last night was the moment of truth: Discussion Leading.
My partner finally responded to my emails on Monday. She sent some of the stuff I had sent to her back to me and wrote, “I added my research and added a couple questions to the handout.” Great. Good. So, I open the most important document first, which is our analysis of the essay we read. She did her analysis on the photographer and the photo that the essay was about while I did mine on the author and the essay itself. She took more than half of the wording I’d used in my analysis and made it her own. Soooooooooooo NOT COOL! So, I did a mash up (bonus points if you know where that’s from) of her “analysis” and my analysis to come up with something that would work for both of us. I decided she could present the view of the photographer and I would present the view of the author. I rewrote the analysis to break each point down to author versus photographer and highlighted her parts of the analysis, basically our talking points, in blue and mine in green and sent it back to her explaining my idea. As I hit send, I cursed once again about how much I loathe partner work. *SIGH* At least the two questions she added to the handout were good.
She finally used the cell phone number I’d given her in a previous email to call me (a novel idea). She apologized for being MIA for awhile and said she’d been having computer issues. Whatever. She liked my idea of splitting the presentation and thanked me for all the work I did. We agreed that we’d show a short video clip after presenting our analysis and then we’d discuss the handout I made to get the discussion going.
I’m beyond proud of the handout I made. We (I) decided to focus on graphic images in the media, specifically photos of human tragedy. I did a one sheet summary of our topic, advantages and disadvantages to showing graphic images, and an accompanying two sided handout with pictures. One side focused on a recent suicide bombing in Baghdad and the other focused on Hurricane Katrina. The top half of the sheet showed photos that did a good job of telling a story on their own—for Baghdad, a bombed out building, and for Katrina, photos showing the magnitude of the flooding and a man being rescued. The bottom half of the sheet showed more graphic photos—for Baghdad, dead bodies that had been pulled from the rubble, and for Katrina, a corpse floating in the water. The one sheet summary also included about half a dozen open-ended questions for discussion. I knew we wouldn’t have time to cover all of the questions, but I thought it could be food for thought. We based the discussion around whether or not the bottom photos on the sheets were necessary. Why does the general public needs to see these images? Whey do they want to? Etc.
Since we were going to be the very first discussion leaders for the class, we really had nothing to go by, so I hoped that what I’d come up with was at least somewhat right. We were the only ones signed up to do discussion leading yesterday, because no one else was stupid enough to sign up for the very first week of discussion leading. My partner and I had agreed to try to make it to class early to go over some last minute details regarding the order of our presentation and who would say what. Class starts at 5:30. I was there at 5. I skipped dinner because I’d spent the whole day battling an increasingly painful migraine and was now at the point where nearly every time I took a breath in I felt like I would vomit. My partner finally managed to show up at 5:35. This was not starting off well, and I really didn’t care anymore. I just wanted to be done with the project. I had gotten to the point where I was hoping she just wouldn’t show up. I’d done most (all) of the work anyway, and I’d had it with her at this point. I was not interested in anymore excuses, and I was willing and able to tackle this on my own.
I’d met with the instructor for a few minutes before class to clarify time limit; our instruction sheet said half an hour max and I needed to know if that was for our part of the presentation or for the whole class discussion. I was hoping it was the former, because we had a lot of material to cover and I thought the discussion would probably go on for a while. Unfortunately it was the latter, which I was worried about.
We got a class break before having to give our presentation, so we took a couple minutes then to make sure we were on the same page with things. I filled my partner in on the time limit, and she didn’t seem worried. She was incredibly confused when I told her I thought we would go over time. She didn’t seem to realize that discussion leading meant leading a discussion, which meant getting through our presentation quickly in order to get to the discussion quickly. We wanted to be able to ask at least a couple questions for the discussion, and we’d want to give our classmates time to respond to our questions and, you know, discuss the topic.
When we finally got through our presentation (partner had apparently decided at the last minute, after I’d told her about my concerns with time and the need for us to get through our portion of the presentation quickly, that she needed to add a bunch of detail to her info on the photographer; probably because she was feeling guilty about doing practically no work for this whole project. I swear, she might as well have told us what the guy frickin’ ate for breakfast each day and what color boxers he preferred.) we started the discussion. I was surprised at how many of our classmates eagerly joined right in. It’s a touchy subject, so I knew everyone would have an opinion, but I didn’t have a good feeling about class discussions based on my previous class where a couple other students and I did all of the talking while the rest just stared at us as they tried not to drool all over themselves. After our first couple questions, I saw the instructor give me the signal that we should wrap up in five minutes. My partner, of course, didn’t see this, so she kept talking. (She really wasn’t getting the point that this was time for the class to discuss the topic, which meant she didn’t have to give an eleventy billion worded reply to every response a classmate gave. I’m glad I had a migraine, because if I hadn’t had to concentrate so hard on not vomiting, my patience would’ve worn out and I would’ve snapped and smacked a bitch.)
The discussion ended up going twenty minutes beyond the five minute warning, which I was super worried about until I remembered that the instructor had said she would cut us off when she wanted the discussion to end. She told the class that, unfortunately, the discussion had to end. She realized that it was an issue that could be discussed for days and encouraged everyone to use our wonderful (exact word she used) handout to spark discussion with friends and family. She thanked us and told the class to thank us for having the courage to be the first ones to go. Everyone clapped for a second time. She then said, “I love it when discussion leading starts out this good.” I tried not to smile, because I didn’t want to look vain and was still standing in front of the whole class.
She told the class that she wanted to tell them, and us, what we did right. Since she maintained her position sitting with the class, my partner and I remained stainding in front of the whole class as she said that we did an awesome job of showing multiple points of view on the topic and in making it relevant to today. She said that we did a great job of coming up with questions to get the discussion started and to keep it moving. She said our topic was one of the harder ones to lead, because there is so much that can be said about the topic. She told our classmates to thank us for “showing them how it’s done” and giving them such a good example. A couple of the guys in class jokingly said, “Why should we thank them?!? They set the bar way too high!” to which the instructor replied, “Yes. They did set the bar quite high. That’s exactly why you should thank them; there should be no question for the rest of you now as to what you need to do for discussion leading.” As we returned to our seats, many of our classmates told us it was a great discussion and that they really enjoyed it.
I. Was. THRILLED! If I’m being modest, I would say that I was shocked when the instructor said we set the bar high, because my only hope was that we did a good enough job and were at least somewhere near the right track; I was really just relieved that it was over. However, if I’m being honest, I was really hoping she’d say that. I worked really frickin’ hard on this project! I am a perfectionist, and as such, I set the bar incredibly high for myself. To know that someone saw that and appreciated it made all of that hard work seem worth it. So, that’s it. It’s finally over. I eagerly await my grade for the project, which as a reminder is 10% of my final grade. If the instructor’s comments are any indication, I should get a pretty good grade. Hopefully an A, but I don’t want to get my hopes up.
So what have we learned from all of this, class? Frazzled doesn't do partner work. It just doesn't mesh well with her controlling, perfectionist tendancies.
P.S. Parnter thanked me profusely for all the hard work I did and apologized for being "kind of hard to reach." Her brother-in-law was hospitalized last week, and because she doesn't work right now, she was nominated to sit with him in the hospital while her sister cared for their kids. She didn't have access to her computer at the hospital, so she had a hard time keeping up with everything. I believe her, because she didn't have the draft of her big essay, which was due yesterday, finished either. I felt bad for her and wish she just would've been honest with me. She could've backed out and lead discussion on a different week, on a different topic, with a different partner or on her own.
What’s up, weekend 4/28
13 hours ago