In our 21st and final #21for21 episode of Competencies without a Classroom season two, we sit down and chat with Lizanne Foster, a humanities teacher in Surrey, British Columbia. Lizanne's overarching theme in all of her classes is teaching her students how to be a human in the world.
What can you borrow from Lizanne for your classroom to help teach 21st-century skills?
Lizanne strives to teach her students how to be a human in the real world.
She feels that it is incredibly important for her students to develop an understanding of what anger is, how to manage their anger and how to handle conflict. Stemming from the Apartheid era and her personal experiences in South Africa, she feels that there is a deep need to help both students and adults understand what goes on in our heads, when we find ourselves in conflict with another.
Lizanne teaches this through the Communication Model - context, perception, interpretation, feelings, and actions, which she has on display in her classroom.
One day when Lizanne gave a student a snap answer whilst juggling a bunch of tasks, she realized that the student was angry, She then took them through The Communication Model.
She explained what the student heard her say and then asked the student the following questions.
What do you think I meant by that and how did this make you feel?
She proceeded to explain what she meant and what she was personally thinking at the time. The point is to show students that each one of us is always in our own world. When we get angry, we make ourselves mad because we are interpreting what someone else is saying. It has nothing to do with them, but a lot to do with our past and our personal experiences.
After teaching this model, Lizanne found her students taking it upon themselves to use the model both in and out of her classroom. After each time they went through it, they felt good and knew more about both themselves and the person they were conflicted with.
The next time you or one of your students finds yourself in a state of anger, pause and ask the following question.
What story am I making up right now?
Then go through The Communication Model. As Lizanne shares, we are constantly interpreting and having our own experiences. By working through this model, students practice self-regulation, conflict resolution and identify and understand their own emotions.
Reflection Prompts for Your Students
Use the prompts below to have your students reflect on what they heard in the episode and consider how Lizanne’s advice can be applied to them.
- Lizanne teaches her students about The Communication Model through an interpretation exercise. Try it out with a partner, and ask each other what you see, describe what you interpret at that moment. Then, explain what your personal experience is based on what they interpret. How did this exercise make you feel? What did you take away/learn from it?
- If Lizanne were superintendent of her school and was tasked with determining one competency students had to display in order to graduate, she would choose self-awareness and self-regulation. What are some ways that you practice mindfulness in or out of the classroom? What benefits do you gain in doing so? How can doing these mindfulness exercises help you in times of conflict?
- If Lizanne had a billboard and could write anything on it, she would write ‘You are enough”. If you were given a billboard and could write a message, giving advice to your past self, what would it say and why?
Yearning for more? You’re in luck! We’ll be speaking to educators all month long about #21for21 and the development of 21st-century skills in the classroom. Join the fun and head over to futurereadyclassroom.com to sign up for episode recaps, lesson plans, and chances to win some awesome prizes.
- Learn more about The Communication Model by watching this Ted Talk
- Read about The Communcation Model in Lizanne’s blog post
- Read Lizanne’s Edutopia article on building community
- Read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey