Close Up Conversation #2A: Building Relationships

Overview
RECOMMENDED GRADE LEVELS: 9-12

We shape our world through relationships. Most people agree we want classrooms and communities where all people have dignity and respect. Yet respectful interactions are often not what we see modeled in the media and in politics. And far too many people feel disrespected in their lives. What can we do about this? 

In this conversation, you and other participants will explore questions around relationships, respecting differences, and resolving problems. By practicing the conversation agreements and sticking to the three-round structure, you’ll learn more about how you and your peers think about the importance of putting relationships first.

Round 1 (~4 minutes)

Overview and agreements

RECOMMENDED GRADE LEVELS: 9-12 We shape our world through relationships. Most people agree we want classrooms and communities where all people have dignity and respect. Yet respectful interactions are often not what we see modeled in the media and in politics. And far too many people feel disrespected in their lives. What can we do about this? In this conversation, you and other participants will explore questions around relationships, respecting differences, and resolving problems. By practicing the conversation agreements and sticking to the three-round structure, you’ll learn more about how you and your peers think about the importance of putting relationships first.

Before every conversation, you will be asked to read and agree to the following coversation agreements:

 Be Curious and Open to Learning.
Listen to and be open to hearing all points of view. Maintain an attitude of exploration and learning. Conversation is as much about listening as it is about talking.

Show Respect and Suspend Judgment.
Human beings tend to judge one another, do your best not to. Setting judgments aside will better enable you to learn from others and help them feel respected and appreciated.

Look for Common Ground and Appreciate Differences.
In this conversation, we look for what we agree on and simply appreciate that we will disagree on some beliefs and opinions.

Be Authentic and Welcome that from Others.
Share what’s important to you. Speak authentically from your personal and heartfelt experience. Be considerate to others who are doing the same.

Be Purposeful and to the Point.
Notice if what you are conveying is or is not “on purpose” to the question at hand. Notice if you are making the same point more than once.

Own and Guide the Conversation.
Take responsibility for the quality of your participation and the conversation by noticing what’s happening and actively support getting yourself and others back “on purpose” when needed.
Round 2 (~15 minutes)

Get to know each other

Get to know each other a bit by sharing something personal. Each participant should answer one or more of the following questions: 

How would you describe your town? (e.g. urban, rural, crowded, empty, big, small ...)
How would you describe your school? (e.g. big, small, public, private, easy, fun, competitive, stressful ...)
What are your favorite activities or hobbies outside of school?
What do you want to do after you graduate?
How would your best friends describe you?
Round 3 (~20 minutes)

Listen and share to understand

Share your views -- and listen openly to others' views -- on the assigned topic, without debating or trying to change anyone's opinion. Each participant should answer one or more of the following questions:

Do you think you are a good listener? Why or why not? What does it mean to listen respectfully to others?
Can you think of someone you know who is a good friend to others? What makes them a good friend?
Can you remember a time when you disagreed with a close friend or family member about something important to you? How did it feel to disagree? 
Have you ever seen or been in a conversation where people were not listening to each other? How did that turn out?
Have you ever shared an opinion that was very different from a group you are part of? What was it about? How did that feel? 
Have you ever decided against speaking out because you were worried about how others would react? How did that feel?
Round 4 (~10 minutes)

Reflect and share takeaways

The goal of this round is to reflect on -- and share with other participants -- how it felt to join this conversation. Each participant should answer one or more of the following questions:

In one sentence, share what was most valuable to you in this conversation.
What new learning or appreciation do you have after joining this conversation? 
Have you found common ground or areas of interest that surprised you? 
What is one important thing you thought was accomplished here?
Round 5 (~1 minutes)

Say goodbye

Say thank you and goodbye!