July 23, 2019
by Meena Srinivasan

Lesson plan

Mindful Communication

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Grade Subject

Students will be able to identify how they can communicate effectively when conflict arises.

(30 minutes)
  • Join the class in a circle, either seated on a rug or in chairs.
  • Tell them that today they will reflect on how to handle conflict effectively, and that they will be participating in a personal experience panel.
  • Explain that in the panel, three to four volunteers will describe a time when they had to speak to a friend or loved one who they were in a disagreement with. Ask them not to use any names in their stories.
  • Mention that everyone who is not speaking will be asked to listen to each volunteer on the panel with kind attention.
  • Write the following guidelines on the board for the panel:
    • Each person has equal time to speak.
    • No one interrupts, gives advice, or breaks in with a personal story.
    • What is said in the classroom, stays in the classroom.
    • Focus on each speaker with eye contact and listening ears.
  • Ask for three to four volunteers to come into the center of the circle and form a smaller circle.
  • Tell them that they will have three minutes to respond to each prompt.
  • Ask the class to take a few deep breaths into their bellies, and to relax their shoulders and hands.
  • Then, have them return to normal breathing and feel their feet in their shoes or on the floor.
  • Give the following prompt: "Describe a time you had to speak with someone who you may have been angry or in a disagreement with at some point. What happened? How did you feel? Were things resolved? Why or why not?"
  • Remind the listeners of the guidelines on the board, and have each volunteer speak one at a time.
  • After all volunteers have spoken, give the next prompt: "How can we use communication as a tool to resolve challenges and disagreements?"
  • Again, remind the class of the panel's guidelines, and give each volunteer three minutes to share their ideas.
  • Thank the volunteers, and ask them to return to the larger circle.
  • Ask the class, "What was it like to hear your classmates' stories? How did their experiences impact them? How can communication help us resolve conflicts?"
(10 minutes)
  • Tell the class that mindful communication is a tool we can use when faced with a conflict, challenging situation, or difficult person.
  • Write the following disconnecting and connecting phrases on the board (or project page three of the Mindful Communication Phrase Game: Connecting or Disconnecting? worksheet):
    • Disconnecting Phrases:
      • Don’t talk to me like that! (demand)
      • What do you think you are doing? (challenge)
      • I told you what I wanted; this is all your fault! (blame, guilt)
      • I don’t want to talk to you ever again! (consequence, fear)
    • Connecting Phrases:
      • Let’s talk when we have both cooled off. (observation)
      • I realize that you wanted a turn and notice that you are frustrated. (acknowledge feelings and needs)
      • Fairness and making sure everyone has a turn is important. (acknowledge needs)
      • What are some things that can be done to make sure you are feeling heard? (solutions and requests)
  • Review and read through each of the phrases with the class.
  • Ask students to make observations and compare the phrases from the two categories.
  • Have them use the Connecting Phrases to identify steps in mindful communication, and contrast those steps with the Disconnecting Phrases.
  • Ask the class if they have any questions.
(15 minutes)
  • Ask for a student volunteer to come up and model mindful communication with you.
  • Tell the class that you and your volunteer are in a disagreement because they had gone to the mall with friends without inviting you.
  • Model speaking using disconnecting phrases with the volunteer. Then, use connecting phrases.
  • Ask the class what they noticed in the interaction, and if they have any questions.
  • Have everyone turn to a partner.
  • Explain that each person will have a chance to use connecting phrases with their partner to practice mindful communication.
  • Tell them that each person will have two minutes to share, while the other person listens with mindful listening ears.
  • Remind them that the listener should only listen, and will not respond or give advice.
  • Ask each pair to decide who will speak first, and who will listen.
  • Give them the following scenario: "You have just gotten into a disagreement with your partner because they went to the mall with friends and didn't invite you."
  • Allow students to use connecting phrases with their partner to try to communicate their emotions.
  • After two minutes, have the pairs switch roles and repeat.
  • Bring the class back together.
  • Ask the class what they notice. How can mindful communication and speaking in this way lead to more connection?
(25 minutes)
  • Read through the instructions on the Mindful Communication Phrase Game: Connecting or Disconnecting? worksheet.
  • Model how to play the game with a partner.
  • Divide the class into pairs to cut out the cards and play the game.

Enrichment: Ask advanced students to write a skit using connecting phrases to demonstrate mindful communication.

Support: Work one-on-one or in small groups to help students complete the worksheet.

(5 minutes)
  • While students are playing the game, move around the room and observe their use of connecting and disconnecting phrases to assess their understanding of mindful communication.
(5 minutes)
  • Bring the class back together in a circle.
  • Ask them to share one takeaway from today's lesson.
  • Show the poster about connecting and disconnecting phrases.
  • Explain that the poster will be up in the room as a reminder to use connecting phrases when speaking with others.

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