Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Guide for Discussing RESPECT in the Classroom

As Corey has mentioned, conversations about respect can be complicated. We want our children to be respectful and considerate of others, but not because we have bribed, begged, or punished them. Teaching children, especially young ones, the value of respect is difficult. My advice is to tackle this subject through an open discussion in which the class decides together why respect is important to your classroom community.

Here are some questions you can use to guide your discussion and some answers you can probe for:

What is respect? What does it mean to be respectful?

-Respect is treating others the way you want to be treated.
-Being respectful means being considerate of others’ needs and feelings.

Who or what should we respect?

-We should show respect to everyone and everything. This means our classmates and teachers, but also our classroom and playground.
-We should respect ourselves.

What are some ways we can show respect in the classroom and/or at recess?

-Raise your hand and wait to be called upon before speaking.
-Put classroom supplies back where you found them.
-Follow the rules of any game being played.
-Never tease or make fun of another person.
-Dispose of garbage and recycling properly.

How will it make people feel when we are respectful towards them?

-They will feel like their feelings matter and that they have friends who care about them.
-They will think that school is a fun and safe place to be.

You can wrap up your discussion by having your students come up with a contract or pledge to be respectful that they will all sign. Whenever your students need a reminder, you can point to the agreement you all made together.

For additional resources, remember our Full of Character program has an entire session devoted to respect in the classroom!

Written by Shira Lurie, toronto lead facilitator


Monday, March 10, 2014

Do It Yourself Teambuilding- Follow The Leader!

Activity Name: Follow the Leader

Materials:  No materials needed

Goal: To have all participants follow their chosen leader.

How to play:
You can play this game anywhere -at home or in the classroom. Have your group stand in a circle. Everyone comes up with an action in their mind. This action has to be simple and easy to copy (like jumping up and down). Next, each person will pick a personal leader from the group and keep it a secret. On go, everyone will do their own action. The game leader will then call out ‘Follow your Leader’, and everyone will copy the actions of the personal leader chosen at the beginning of the game. The outcome will be different each time, so be sure to finish with a meaningful discussion about leadership, teamwork and non-verbal communication.

The rules:
-The action has to be a simple one that everyone can do
- Cannot change the leader you are following

Suggestions for discussion questions:
-Did you have fun?
-How did it feel to be a leader?
-How did it feel to be a follower?
-What are character traits of good leaders?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Happy International Women's Day!

At Dynamix, we celebrate women of all ages every day! Our team of truly great young women are out there in schools and daycares and youth groups every day, inspiring younger girls to be work together collaboratively, creatively and compassionately to help their communities! And every day, we meet great women educators and youth leaders who have a full-time commitment to the boys and girls in their classes. May we all celebrate together, the little and the big triumphs of the women and girls we love!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Effective Communication in Teams: Receiving Messages

In order to work cooperatively and successfully as a team, we must develop the skills to communicate effectively. While my previous article focused on tips for sending messages, this article will describe some helpful tips for receiving messages. Receiving a message skillfully is just as important as sending a message, and the way we listen and respond to a message sent by a team member can have an impact on our relationship. When we listen and respond in ways that are accurate and relevant, we communicate to our teammate that we care about what they have to say and have a desire to understand them. When we fail to listen and respond inappropriately we send the message that we don’t care about what our teammate has to say and are not interested in understanding them. Here are a few tips when receiving messages!

Tip #1: Actually Listen
Often when we are receiving messages from our teammates (either verbal or non-verbal messages, such as gestures and facial expressions), we are preoccupied with our own feelings and ideas, which may prevent us from actually receiving the intended message. When a teammate is sending an intentional message, such as sharing an idea, strategy, or a feeling they are experiencing, try to stay present and actually take in the information so you can respond accordingly.

Tip #2: Try Paraphrasing
It may feel awkward at first, because it doesn’t come naturally, but when someone communicates a message to us, try paraphrasing it back to him/her. Paraphrasing means simply restating the message in our own words. For example, if a teammate says in a group discussion “I feel like no one is listening to me”, you may reflect this back by saying “you feel like you’re not being heard in this conversation”. Paraphrasing can help ensure that you’ve understood the message, while at the same time, making the speaker feel validated and heard in his/her expression of the message.

Tip #3: Check the Meaning
After paraphrasing, or reflecting back the meaning of the message in our own words, it can be very important to check if you got it right. When you paraphrase and then ask your teammate “is that what you mean?” after they have communicated an opinion, idea, or feeling, it provides him/her with the opportunity to agree or clarify the message. Once again, this communicates to the sender of the message that we care about what they are saying and it is important to us that we understand the meaning of their message. This can increase trust in a team and suggests your desire to cooperate. 

In teams, we should constantly be focused on developing strong, meaningful relationships that are not only personally rewarding, but also help to bring us closer to our mutual goals. When we focus on receiving the messages being sent by our teammates, reflecting them back through paraphrasing, and making sure we accurately understand the meaning and intention of the messages, we are communicating to our teammates that we care about them. Therefore communicating does not only help a team achieve mutual understating, but it also helps us to strengthen our relationships.
For more information, see Johnson (2014). Keep an eye out for my follow-up article on tips for overcoming possible obstacles to communication!

Johnson, D. W. (2014). Reaching out: Interpersonal effectiveness and self-actualization (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Written by Shea Wood, M.A., CCC

Dynamix: Teambuilding for Kids and Teens, since 2002.

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