Learning to be Effective Communicators: Lights, Cameras, Action!

Yesterday in our 7th-grade classroom I gave a workshop on body language, active listening skills, and conflict mediation. What started off as many points jotted down and enthusiastically explained on the whiteboard quickly turned into a riotous time of skits, partner work, and dynamic learning as we explored new territory on how to be more effective (and compassionate) communicators.

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Stanley and Rolan, local students in our discipleship-based high school program, practicing active/respectful listening in a dynamic role-play

 

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We touched on the fact that body language, tone of voice and facial expression constitute the large majority of communication (whereas the actual words spoken account for a small percentage of the overall message conveyed) in addition to explaining the difference between an active and passive listener, open as opposed to closed body language, the importance of allowing the other person to speak first, how to diffuse a potentially explosive situation, conflict mediation, etc. Miss Ligia and Miss Isis, our secondary and primary teachers, even participated in the workshop in order to learn more about a topic very few Honduran schools ever touch on.

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Miss Isis in a silly skit with Sindy, one of our local students. Both were extremely shy and hesitant to come up to the front at the beginning of the class, but soon enough they were participating with great joy!

 

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In Honduras where the majority of people – even educated adults – don’t employ basic active listening skills and many people struggle to maintain eye contact in a conversation or group setting, the workshop proved to be not only fun but also extremely important in our students’ development as equipped instruments in God’s hands.

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15-year-old Sandra and 14-year-old Elalf demonstrating active listening skills in a skit

 

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The students practicing active listening skills in pairs

 

Many youth and adults in this country suffer from a very deep sense of what they call ‘shame’, limiting them in their self-expression and initiative, and completely incapacitating them in the more difficult arenas of public speaking and conflict mediation. Many of our students have been very reluctant to read out loud, pray in front of others, voice an opinion, or have to stand in front of their peers and give any kind of presentation, so our dynamic activity yesterday – standing up to read the different points elaborated on the whiteboard, going to the front of the classroom with a partner to act out different silly skits, etc – constituted a huge step for all of our students in being able to freely and lovingly express themselves without wilting under that dark cloud of constant shame.

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Messy, an extremely shy local student who has slowly begun expressing more joy as she learns to participate without fear.

 

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At the beginning of our time together everyone – even the teachers! – were nervous about having to ‘put themselves out there’ in a potentially embarrassing skit, but as our time progressed everyone – even the shyest students who typically fade too easily into the background – were laughing hysterically, participating in numerous skits, trying on the different wigs and hats I had brought with me, etc.

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Cristian and Rolan, both local students in our 7th grade program, participating in a rather silly conflict resolution. (Great wig, Rolan!)

 

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As we have witnessed (especially in these last few months), many people in this nation problem-solve by way of violence. You said something I didn’t like, so I’ll go and kill you. You look like someone who belongs to the gang I’m against, so I’m gonna kidnap you. You stole from me, so I’ll shoot you. Learning alongside our students yesterday how to problem-solve by way of loving confrontation, humble listening, and asking/granting forgiveness rather than by resorting to violence may save lives long-term. What a privilege to be involved in this process!

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Dayana, our eldest daughter whom we are in the process of legally adopting, in an intense role-play with Miss Ligia, our secondary teacher, as they sought to resolve a heated dispute peacefully.

 

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We wrote across the whiteboard in large letters, each person taking their turn to stand up and read aloud: “…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” — James 1:19

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Elalf and I entering a dramatic skit about conflict resolution. (To make the class even more interesting, I dressed up in a high school uniform over my normal clothes and added a fun hat and purse!)

 

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He had stolen my slipper, after all!

 

The lighting in several of the photos came out poorly, but I hope you enjoy them and the riotous joy they contain! Praise God for this huge step of teaching young Hondurans how to be more effective, loving communicators for God’s glory!

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There’s a lot of information to copy down in your notebook! Try to keep up!

 

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Gotta love this photo of Miss Ligia on her way to the bathroom!

 

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Amen! Glory to God!

One thought on “Learning to be Effective Communicators: Lights, Cameras, Action!”

  1. I wish allllll schools would teach these very important life skills! They are desperately needed in the workplace, in families and in marriage! You go, girl!!! Woooohooo!! Don’t let NO ONE steal your slipper’nn

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