"Each week, for the next…weeks, at this time, we will be doing something totally different. We are going to be learning about friendship and ways to help make your friendships stronger”.
"The Friendship Saver can help people with to make friends, strengthen friendship and better managing conflicts and problems with others. There are many things I can teach you within this program, but I want to make sure that I am teaching you things that you really want to know”.
“Let’s see if we can write up a huge list of things that you would want me to teach you as a group. Can you think of any idea’s/questions or topics that you would like to know more about when it comes to friendship or conflict/problems with others?”
Student Ideas List
Write the students contributions on the white board. The Secondary Facilitator can record the responses on the ‘Session One - Student Ideas List’ as a record and sample of the social issues that are most significant for the cohort at that point in time.
This activity is the first time that students will experience the program with the Primary Facilitator, and this is an important moment for establishing an environment that encourages students to raise their hand and feel comfortable to have a go, and share an idea. As such, the facilitators’ reactions and responses to this task will set the stage. While students offer ideas, the Primary Facilitator is encouraged to use language that helps the students to feel comfortable, and also recognise that they have similar experiences and concerns to their peers.
For example, if a student suggests an idea that is already on the board, the facilitator might say;
- Thanks for sharing your idea, that’s brilliant. In fact, I think your idea has similarities to this
- “It’s always interesting to discover that other people have experienced the same challenges”.
- “I think we should definitely talk about this issue more, thank you”.
This type of acknowledging response is going to be far more helpful than simply saying,
“we already have that idea on the board, do you have any new ideas?” This session will also help students towards their understanding of how to communicate (speak/share/listen and respond) in group discussions. Other helpful responses to encourage students to share their ideas include: “That’s perfect, I can definitely cover that question”, “Thank you for sharing that idea, I love your thinking”, “Oh, that’s tricky, we can definitely give that a go”, “Awesome question”, etc. During this discussion, you could also add in a little subliminal messaging, “Oh, this is going to be a great program, we’re going to have some fun together with this list”.
Once a list is constructed, and students have felt heard and appreciated for their contribution, ask the students to vote. Generally, teaching children about the concept of a group vote, the fairness and importance of accepting a group vote, and how to set up and execute a group vote are all valuable social lessons to experience. These lessons don't need to be teased out explicitly, but can be learnt through the Facilitators modelling and the student’s experience of participating in voting processes.
Ask students to vote on the ideas/questions and topics that they would most like to learn about, to help you to shape The Friendship Saver. Read each idea/question/request to the group and ask the students to raise their hands if they have heard something that they would like to learn more about (this could include strategies, tricks, ideas to help). In this instance, they can vote as many times as they like. If you sense that the cohort are uncomfortable with one another at this early stage, you might consider a blind vote (i.e. ‘drop your head and cover your eyes with one hand and raise your other hand to vote’). When the students open their eyes, circle the ideas/questions that received multiple votes. If some of the students look anxious or worried that their ideas might not gain votes, avoid reporting the exact number of votes recorded for each question, and note that those students will need to face opportunities in the coming weeks to build their resilience and confidence.
Hopefully lots of comments will gain lots of votes, demonstrating to all that many of the students are experiencing similar issues, and want to learn similar things. If this is the case, point this out to the students.
At the end of the session, inform the students that their ideas will help to shape the program that will be presented in the coming weeks, and indeed it will! Use the information gained from today’s session to inform your understanding of the key issues as described and understood by the group. Furthermore, use this knowledge to determine the core concepts that will require particular emphasis over the coming weeks.