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How I taught a troubled class a lesson they'll never forget.

· communication,friendships

A few years ago I was working in a School and had a particularly troubled and tricky class of students. It was a form group, so had ages of 11 years all the way up to 18.

There were some BIG personalities in the group, so naturally- lots of clashes. When I took over, there were no friendships, no connection, the children simply sat solemnly on their phones (their previous form tutor allowed this).

I decided to shake things up.

One day, as a bit of an experiment, I asked the students to create a column of chairs, so that we had 8 chairs in a line, facing another 8 chairs. I invited the students to take a seat.

At this point, I had 16 very nervous looking students looking up at me. The room was silent. I told them we were going to play a little game. To win the game was simple.

All they had to do was sit on the chair, facing the person sitting on the chair opposite and have a conversation for 60 seconds.

Sounds easy enough right? There was one more thing. (EVIL LAUGH).

They could not break eye-contact. :O

Now you can imagine the response...

They squirmed, they resisted, they struggled with this level of connection, especially with people they really hadn't gotten to know and for some, had NEVER spoken to, despite spending a couple of hours of time with each other each week.

Something beautiful happened a few minutes into the exercise...

After the pairs had been mixed up and people had completed a few rounds of the challenge. The energy in the room changed.

Students were smiling, I could hear the sound of laughter, friendships were forming. They were CONNECTING with each other for the first time.

Connecting with one another on the best level, a human level.

From this day on, the group blossomed and become a beautiful, kind, group of young people, who looked out for one another and excelled academically but more importantly, socially and emotionally.

When we finished the challenge I said something the lines of ''You can't beat what you just experienced, real, honest, raw, human connection''.

It's true. Unlike a text, email or FB message, you can't edit real life.

Real life communication is messy and flawed but WE are messy and flawed and it's this truth that enables us to connect and form deep and meaningful relationships with those around us.

Today- choose a real-life conversation today over a virtual, edited, conversation.

We need it.

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Will Aylward