Summer is quickly coming to a close for me and my school will be busy with the sounds of students who are eager to learn and excited to make new friends. Unfortunately, after about two weeks, the excitement of coming back to school will begin to wear off and that peaceful scene will quickly fade away (sigh).
In my opinion, the beginning of school is like getting a new roommate in college. At first, you are so eager to get to know this person that you do everything together…go to the movies, go out to eat, go to parties, study together, watch television…you get what I mean. Then, ever so slightly, things that were not so noticeable become an instant irritant. When these little irritations are first noticed, you try to shrug them off or make excuses for them. Maybe she did not clean the hair out the drain because she was in a hurry to get to class or maybe she hasn’t made her bed in a month because she is going to get back in it tonight. As time passes, you notice that those little irritations become bigger and bigger.
Eventually, the desire to be around each other erodes and you begin avoiding one another, going to hang out in other dorm rooms, or contemplating moving back home.When the honeymoon period is over,everyone’s true self is revealed.
When the honeymoon period is over at school, a slow tide of irritants begin to emerge. Many of these disturbances simply come from our biases, perceptions, and past experiences that we bring with us to school.
|Everyone sees things differently|
Without proper skills to deal with situations that disturb us, conflicts often emerge. Sometimes these conflicts can lead to class disruptions, verbal disagreements, physical fights, and even bullying. Because we all have different beliefs and perceptions, there is a lot of potential for disagreements in the classroom, the lunchroom, or the hallways. If educators and students lack the ability to carry on a meaningful conversation or dialogue, things can get out of hand quickly. As a school counselor and conflict manager, I believe it is very important to train staff and students in communication or dialogue processes. Dialogue processes can be very useful for class discussions, student/parent conferences, meetings, misunderstandings, and conflicts. In my opinion, this is a skill that students need more than ever!!
What is Dialogue?
Trish Jones, Christi Tinari, and Catrina Cueves, from the Conflict Resolution Education and Teacher Education or CRETE project, define dialogue as a process where individuals or groups share information in order to gain a better understanding. The goal of dialogue is not to change that person’s opinion, but to shift how we view self, the other person, and our relationship with that person. Therefore, the point of dialogue is understanding and not to find flows, criticize, or prove your point.
Public Conversation Toolkit
Now that we are aware of the meaning of dialogue, how do you implement it in high schools? The CRETE project provides a Public Conversation Toolkit that I would like to share with you.
If you would like to know more information about CRETE and the great skills you can learn, please feel free to email me and I can provide you with further training information.
Tool # 1–The Public Conversation Project (PCP) created a facilitated dialogue process out of their desire to help create understanding between Pro-Choice and Pro-Life groups in the early 1990’s.
This dialogue process is voluntary and guided by three prompts:
- Prompt 1-What is your personal experience with this topic?
- Prompt 2-What are you concerned about? What do you want others to understand?
- Prompt 3-Who should have a voice in this conversation? Who is most being harmed by this topic and what would you like to see happen?
- Recognize the other person non verbally and verbally.
- Acknowledge the other person’s perceptions, comments or questions without agreeing with them.
- Endorse or send the message that their feelings or perceptions are okay.