Building Student Conversation Skills into Social-Emotional Learning

A supportive school climate is built on strong relationships, strong relationships are built on trust, and trust is built on good communication. These connections with others are powerful protective factors and build resilience in students. How are we as educators, mental health specialists, parents, and mentors ensuring that we foster positive communication with and among our students?

One key way to promote positive communication in our schools and communities is to teach and model what effective conversations look like. The ability to have an open and respectful conversation is a skill that can be learned and continually improved.

Should Schools Teach Student Conversation Skills?

Companies have long known that providing their employees with professional development opportunities around emotional intelligence and communication has a significant impact on improving workplace culture. Schools too are focusing on these skills with an emphasis on teaching social and emotional competencies.

Solid evidence has shown that a core set of social and emotional competencies are highly predictive of success in school and life. These same competencies are at the same time the foundational skills of a good communicator.

Two social and emotional competencies stand out when it comes to conversations:

  1. Building empathy: part of social awareness, empathy is a fundamental people skill that takes the form of identifying with others, taking perspective, and responding and listening to others.
  2. Connectedness: part of relationship skills, connectedness is seen in our ability to participate in conversations, make friends, help others, show respect for others, and ask for help.

How Can Conversations Be Taught?

When Kognito worked with subject matter experts to develop Friend2Friend, it was designed to give schools and communities a tool to teach these skills. This learning model was then built on gaming technology, a platform that students find highly engaging.

In the simulation, students learn effective and motivational communication skills and are able to practice them in a simulated conversation with a friend. Throughout the conversation, they receive feedback on their responses. Through thought bubbles, they are able to see how their questions and responses make their virtual friend feel.

Over 15,000 youth have taken Friend2Friend across the U.S. The recent release of a new lesson plan filled with several reinforcement activities equips educators with a broader curriculum focused on strengthening their students’ empathy and connectedness.

The goal is to build a generation of youth equipped with emotional intelligence and communication skills to not only thrive in school, but to succeed throughout their lives.

Learn more about Friend2Friend or try out a demo here.

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