Encouraging Words

Relationship Skills

Family Resources on Encouraging Words

Lesson Topic

Students will discuss how to communicate with others, particularly adults.

Essential Question

Why do people find it difficult to communicate with each other? Who are the people who I can talk to about difficult issues?

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Encouraging Words

If this lesson was used in the classroom: Students analyzed why adolescents sometimes have difficulty communicating with adults and how to open channels of communication. In class students completed an exercise where they had to figure out how to communicate effectively. In groups students brainstormed and discussed effective strategies for communicating with adults.

Getting Ready for the Conversation

The video for this module features an adolescent named Kareese who began having difficulty in school. Kareese asked one of her teachers to help her and this action led to greater connections to the adults in her school and Kareese’s school performance improved.

Conversation notes:
Many adolescents become disconnected or frustrated with the demands of school or other situations. Often this fuels a cycle where students may completely give up on relationships with adults. Healthy communication and the willingness to ask for help will lead to better outcomes and meaningful relationships.

Article on school attendance problems by Jess Whitley and Beth Saggers at Generation Next:

Search Institute blog post on developmental relationships and positive youth development:

Some teens feel disconnected from school and could benefit from high school alternatives as this blog post from the Annie E. Casey Foundation discusses:

Constructive Conversation Starters

The first item is for follow-up after viewing the lesson video and participating in class activities.

Tell me (or us) about the Jedi Numbers activity. What was the point of the exercise? How did your group figure out how to complete the activity successfully? Why do you think people sometimes do a poor job of communicating?

Who is the adult (or adults) at school that you have a good connection with? Why is it important to make sure and have trusting relationships with adults at school and in the community?

Ask a teacher or another adult mentor why they want to help teenagers. Share your thoughts about this conversation and explain why these adults want to help teenagers. How does this demonstrate the importance of effective communication?

School to Home Resources on Encouraging Words

Lesson Plan

Teachers want to help

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Karesse’s teacher says, “They [teachers] want to help them [students], they want to find ways to help them, if they can’t help them personally, they will go out of their way to find a program or person who is willing to help them”. Sometimes students perceive that teachers may be unwilling or unable to help them with a particular situation. Why do you think this perception exists? What is the best way and the best time to ask for help with a personal problem? Why do educators want to help students solve problems and communicate effectively?

Staying connected to school

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Anthony says, “you may not see it now, but it will pay off in the future…once I get an education no one can take that away from me”. Why do you think Anthony is focused on doing well in school? How do you think he become involved in activities that helped motivate him to stay in school? How does Anthony communicate that he is motived to work hard? What are big obstacles you see for students that could interfere with school success? Why is it important for students facing obstacles to ask for help?

Communicating positive messages

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Another student says, “when there’s other people that’s out there that care about you and want to help you succeed, then you feel like, you know, it’s not only me that’s on my side I’ve got other people to help me and encourage me”. Why do you think she mentions other people? Explain how the network surrounding someone affects the choices that a person makes.

Importance of a positive network

Look at this article from The Atlantic website. Adults often believe that a few popular students influence both positive and negative trends among other students. Why does the author of this article argue differently? What are the important influences beyond “popular” students? Do you think your social connections are providing the support you need? Why or why not?

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