Saturday, November 27, 2010

Primary school teacher develops conversation skills with children

One of the members of the OTM Academy has applied and modified the OTM Strategic Conversations® process to teach conversation skills to eight and nine year old children in his primary school class.

His humility is such that he has asked to remain anonymous, but for the sake of this article I'll call him John.

Focusing on water conservation as his topic, the children were organised into groups of six. They were asked to be conscious about how much they were talking and listening.

The first question asked was, "What would be the perfect world to have for water?"

The children engaged in the conversation expressing ideas about how water could be managed. While they were conversing, John moved around the room listening to what they were saying. Part of the purpose of the conversation was to see how much they had learned from the previous few weeks of learning about water.

John, initially nervous about using this process with young children, was quickly convinced that the process worked as he heard the children talking with passion, focus and knowledge as they conversed on the first question.

As the process encourages, John mixed up the children in their groups for the second question, "What are the challenges of achieving this world?"

As John moved around the room again he was once again impressed by the way the children were sharing the conversation and demonstrating that they were listening. A Teacher's Aid who witnessed the process remarked that she was amazed at how engaged some of the children were, particularly a number of them who had not previously shown much interest in contributing to classroom conversations.

Collecting the output from the second question John was amazed at the maturity and deep understanding of the topic that the children had clearly developed.

Rotating the children again to ensure that they learned to speak with different children, the third question focused on action. "What are we going to do?"

John was delighted that the children came up with a broad range of practical ideas, which included sharing them with the rest of the school community.

Delighted by the outcome of the conversation John contacted me to share his story. "I was very nervous at first wondering if this would be too much for the kids, but as you had encouraged me, I let myself trust the process. And it worked. I couldn't believe that the 90 minutes we spent talking went so fast. And the kids were on centre stage, not me!"

Teaching people to hold conversations can occur at any age.
The OTM Strategic Conversations® process is based upon the original work by Juanita Brown and David Isaacs.

What are your experiences of conducting large group conversations or, as we like to say Conversations That Matter®?

The OTM Academy is a free Online Community created by Gary Ryan to enhance the Personal & Professional Development of members. More information on how to host a Strategic Conversation® is available in the academy. Otherwise, email otmacademy@orgsthatmatter.com for more information.

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