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Orenda Week 7 Social Fluency Pt. 1

In Week 6 of Orenda’s group session, we conducted a workshop for our Orenda parents to teach them a technique called motivational interviewing, a powerful conversational tool to build trust, empathy and help create intrinsic motivation in the person who is on the receiving end of the conversation.

This week we resumed our workshops for students. We taught a framework around social fluency, a topic that many of our students are interested in.

Many students have questions about how to become more socially fluent (questions like, “How do I make new friends?” “How do I build deeper friendships?”) . This is usually something that’s highly important to most of the children we work with and we want to equip our students with the mindsets and confidence to navigate social situations they’re in.

We remember when we were in high school, the social aspects of school were often not talked about or nurtured. We were left with little guidance on how to conduct ourselves in conversation and how to build meaningful relationships. During this workshop, we introduced our framework for social fluency and provided students with time and space to practice.

How To Understand Another Person

We started off by outlining the different levels of knowledge you can have about someone. For example, knowing someone’s favorite movie only gives you surface knowledge about them. However, knowing what type of person they aspire to be can help you understand how they see themselves and what they want for their future.

If you want to learn progressively deeper things about a person, you have to become fluent in asking them progressively deeper question while also reciprocating by sharing more about your own views and experiences.

Using this framing, we modeled for students what different conversational dynamics can feel like. Two of our coaches picked up five oranges each and started talking with one another. When Brandon, the first coach asked a question, he threw an orange to Carl. When Carl answered and followed up with his own question, he threw an orange back to Brandon. A conversation flows and feels smooth when both people are throwing and catching oranges at roughly equal rates. Otherwise, the conversation can start to feel imbalanced.

We hilariously modeled a number of positive and negative conversational models to our students.

Conversational Models

For example, we showed what the following conversational models could feel like:

Negative Conversational Models

Positive Conversational Models

Practicing through Role-Playing

After learning about these different techniques and ideas, students wrote about what they would like to work on. Students broke up into pairs. Each of them were given a handful of oranges and were instructed to pass them to their partner whenever they asked their partner a question.

They then role-played a series of different conversations with each other for 2-4 minutes, and then receive feedback on how the conversation felt from their partner as well as from an Orenda coach.

Students got into small groups to practice and received feedback from both their peers as well as the Orenda coaches. Through iterating on their conversations, students built greater confidence and ability in their conversational skills.

Next Week

Next week we will expand our social fluency workshop to ask students to come up with and vote on specific conversational skills they hope to learn (e.g., public speaking, persuading others, giving compliments). We want to give our students the freedom to direct the curriculum and choose what is most useful and powerful for them right now; we will then break up into smaller groups to help our students practice and hone their conversational toolkits around each of these topics.

If you are interested in learning more about participating in Orenda Academy, please fill out this link: Spring 2018 Interest Form.

We are also holding a limited number of spots for Spring 2018 virtual coaching where coaches work online with students located outside of the Bay Area. Please indicate if you are interested. You can also email us at carl@orendaacademy.com