Class meetings are an excellent way to teach children assertive language in a guided, peaceful, and safe way.
Objective: The learner will resolve conflicts with his/her classmate by sharing feelings in an organized class meeting where the teacher leads the whole class in a non-judgmental discussion.
Materials: Chairs in a circle, list of protocols on board or chart paper, talking stick.
- Tell the students that they are going to have a class meeting and to gather their chairs in a circle.
- Go over the protocols for a class meeting:
- No blame or put downs
- The only person speaking is the one holding the talking stick. All others listen with respectful body language.
- Use “I feel” messages.
- The only responses allowed are, “I’m sorry,” or “Thank you for sharing.”
- Explain to the students that they are going to find a way to get the entire class community to come together.
- Model how to use the talking stick by being the first to speak. Example is as follows: Turn to one boy in class and say something like, “Joe, I feel upset about the choices you have made lately. You have thrown things multiple times in class, chewed gum, and disrupted class. It makes me feel disrespected when you do things like this.”
- Prompt the child to respond with “I’m sorry,” or “Thank you for sharing.”
- Pass the talking stick around the circle giving each child a chance to share. If he/she chooses not to share an “I pass” response is fine.
- Once every child has been able to share feelings it is time for the second round. For this time around the circle focus on problem solving. Have each child say, “I know we’ve had problems in the past but I’d like to__________.” They then fill in the blank.
- If more issues arise the teacher may want to do a third pass around the circle.
- At the end remind the students that what was shared was private, not issues to be gossiped about. They may discuss this with parents but it should not become recess talk.
Evaluation: Were the students able to share honestly with I feel messages? Did others sit quietly while each child held the talking stick? Was there problem solving on the second pass that focused on friendship instead of vindictiveness?
Follow-up: Class meetings should be held at least monthly for the school year in order to give the children a time to air feelings and work on positive assertive vocabulary.