Section means an hour of sitting in a room discussing subject matter with peers, whom you’ve either never seen before, or whom you’ve seen every day of college because there are 13 Folk and Myth concentrators. Section is the time to learn, study for other classes, or catch some z’s. But when participation makes up a third of your grade, there’s the added pressure of speaking in class. A dilemma arises: you don’t want your A to slip away because you never talk in section, but you don’t want to be “section kid” either. Here are some tips on how to welcome participation points without welcoming hatred from your peers.
Don’t dwell in disputes
Even if another student says something triggering or flat out wrong, a petty correction isn’t the most productive way to respond. Instead, try to respectfully address that student’s opinion, and move the discussion forward, rather than dwelling on their error.
Read passages and instructions
Participation includes all types of verbal contribution, including reading passages aloud. Many people avoid this kind of participation, thinking they can only contribute “original” discussion points, but TFs always appreciate it when someone volunteers to read.
Sit in the back
If you’re going to participate a lot, do it from the back of the room. This strategic position makes multitasking on your laptop a possibility, and keeps you from looking like a front-and-center teacher’s pet.
Space out your spiels
Don’t be that kid who talks every other turn. Instead, just discuss your contentions at the beginning and end of section. Your comments’ primacy and recency will make your TF more likely to remember you participation.
Participate in other avenues
To make an impression on your TF without making your peers’ eyes roll, show up to office hours to make your course engagement and knowledge known. Maybe you’ve been eying a “Classroom to Table” excursion for some time now. Don’t be afraid to go for it: you might find a truly rewarding interaction—and potential recommendation writer—in these outside-of-class exchanges.