Talking IT out

As a teacher, I spend a lot of time talking. Talking with students, colleagues, and parents. Teachers are often seen historically as better “talkers” than “listeners”  so I am always conscious of listening as well. As a teacher I am lucky that I get to celebrate in student success frequently and many of my conversations with students, colleagues, and parents are about positive events that happen, but like all teachers we have to have those more challenging conversations as well. It is these conversations that give us the opportunity to be teachers and help guide students into making better decisions and understanding can grow out of.

Today I was having a brief conversation and I remembered some training that I did in University on active listening and the use of “I” messages. Basically it follows the following format …

When you ____________ (FACT). I feel __________ (EMOTION) because ___________. I would like if you could __________________ because _________________.

It is important to stick to facts during this process and leave opinions as to “why” it happened out. 
Typically, people describe their feelings or emotions in very general terms such as sad, mad, upset, good, happy, etc. One activity that is helpful is to get people use to using different words to describe their emotions more specifically. The following list of “Feeling Words” can be of assistance.  http://www.psychpage.com/learning/library/assess/feelings.html.

I think that this format will be helpful in teaching students how to express their feelings about events that happen more clearly and help us to learn from our mistakes and improve our decision making processes.

Hopefully, utilizing “I” messages will help to develop a classroom environment of empathy, tolerance, acceptance, appreciation, and integrity.

How do you teach active listening and conflict resolution? Have you tried “I” messages? Any tips/hints?

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