How to Run a PLL

The cool thing about Potluck learning is that everyone is asked to bring a text. (Not everyone does, but hopefully most people in your group will bring one. You can provide invitees ideas and strategies for finding a text to help people get inspired.) So a large part of the discussion will be driven by people sharing their texts and talking them over with the group.

That means that most important thing to do as a facilitator is to tell the group at the beginning (and repeat if necessary) that people should jump in when their text relates to the discussion. They should take ownership of the direction of the discussion, read their text with the group, share their thoughts, and ask for others’ thoughts. People usually need to be told this very explicitly in order for them to feel empowered enough to share their text when they think it’s a good time.

Here’s a breakdown of a typical PLL (feel free to follow or tweak as you see fit):

  1. Intro
    1. Icebreaker (if you want) – if you do an icebreaker, choose one that relates to the theme e.g. “What’s a time when you feel free?” for a Freedom to choose vs. Commitment theme
    2. If there are people who didn’t bring a text, let them choose a text from the extra ones that you bring.
    3. Empower everyone in the group to jump in with their text at any point
  2. Start the discussion with reading and discussing the prompt. This is important in order to make sure everyone is on the same page (some people may be delinquents not have read the prompt). Ask for thoughts on the prompt e.g. “Do you agree with this idea (specify what idea is being mentioned)? Why or why not? Does this relate to your own life?”
  3. Keep on discussing until someone says that their text relates, and then ask that person to share their text. OR, if no one volunteers a text and the discussion slows down, ask the group if anyone would like to share their text. It’s OK if it doesn’t 100% relate to the previous discussion.
  4. Repeat until most or all people in the group have shared their texts.
  5. Wrap up. Summarize ideas/tensions/questions, ask for closing thoughts, and thank everyone for coming.

Tips:

  • If you’re not sure how many people are going to bring texts, it’s a good practice to brainstorm a few extra texts and bring them along. You can let people who didn’t bring a text choose from one of the extras at the start of PLL.
  • Think about timing and set up. You’ll probably want 1.5-2 hours for PLL. If your PLL is during or after a meal, make sure the meal host knows when PLL will be happening. You may want to have PLL over a potluck meal – everyone brings a food item and a text.
  • You may want to set ground rules at the beginning of your discussion e.g. translate everything, each person should limit themselves to speaking 2 minutes at a time so everyone can speak.
  • Ask open-ended questions to the group to spark discussion e.g. What did you think about that text? Does anyone relate to what we just read? Does anyone disagree with that opinion? What else are people thinking about this?
  • Repeat back or summarize what people say to make them feel heard and/or emphasize certain points to the wider group.

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