YESS at Shaw Heights Middle School

YESS at Shaw Heights Middle School

This past week in YESS we continued our discussion on “stinking thinking” by discussing the issue of miscommunication and how it, in turn, can trigger some stinking thinking if we are not very careful with our language. The mentors and I have been talking about language for a few weeks now as  I have been coaching them on the approaches they take when (if) they have a conflict with their mentee. We noted how a simple sentence or two can set someone “on edge” without us having even realized the impact of our words. In order to be more aware, we did a couple of fun exercises to demonstrate just how easily miscommunication can occur and what happens as a result.

Austin tries to explain his drawing to his mentor, Chase.

We played the telephone game to warm up (not one class was successful in passing the sentence around the circle unchanged!) and then we watched a short video that noted four ways we can improve our communication. First, we must practice active listening; second, we must be open in the conversation and we must go slowly when talking; third, we must pay attention to the signals we send with our body language; and finally, we must be aware of the perceptions and perspectives we bring to each conversation based on our history, culture and personal experiences as these things influence the way we understand and see things.

Andrew working hard to follow Darrien’s directions!


Isai and TJ during our drawing challenge in 5th hour.

Everyone seemed to really connect with this issue of miscommunication. We noted how even a cell phone can cause problems by having auto-correct change a word while texting. Once we had increased our awareness about this issue, we then started working as mentor/mentee pairs to try and improve the ways we communicate. We had the mentees and mentors pair up, sitting back to back, for a drawing challenge. The mentors has two minutes to draw whatever they wished, but the catch was that they had to then explain how to draw the same image to their mentee–while remaining back to back. This was a great challenge and really helped our scholars get engaged with this issue of communication.

Chadaey tries to stop laughing as she attempts to draw “taste” for her group during Pictionary.

We took it a step further by playing team charades on Friday. It was VERY hard for our scholars to not talk during this game, but as time went on they all got better and better about using non-verbal cues to coach their team members along.

We are excited to talk more about relationships and communication next week!