For Elementary Teachers: Introduction

Table of Contents

As you advance through each month of 5 Radical Minutes, additional content will become available.

Getting Started

If you haven’t reviewed the notable benefits of the program, review them here.
The three constants of the program are explained here.

Things You’ll Need

  • Bell or Chime. You’ll need some means of signaling time to let students know when you’re changing partners and then moving from paired sharing to conversation, such as a bell or little hand cymbals. Any hand-held bell or any of these would work:
  • Parent Volunteers. There will be easy projects that parent volunteers can do in advance. We’ll give you a couple week’s notice for these.
  • Video and Audio Playback. A way of playing videos for fun days and also the means to amplify recordings for helping students quiet themselves internally.

Program Goals

The goal of this program is for students to learn how to only listen to their partners, only share when it is their time to talk, and then be able to discover what they have in common with one another. For elementary students, this is a huge expectation! We’ll break the skills down into small steps that can allow little ones to slowly grow into these activities. Eventually by middle school, the following goals should be met:

  • Students share a brief activity that reinforces awareness of how we are similar more than we are different
  • Students respect one another’s differences and accept people for who they are
  • Students get to know everyone in the classroom, which decreases loss of teaching time due to peer conflicts
  • Learned social skills decrease conflict
  • Learned coping skills allow students to negotiate all aspects of life more successfully

One of the critical components to this success is to ensure that students experience paired sharing time with all others in the classroom (including adults who teach or happen to be in the room) so they learn acceptance and caring for the whole range of peers and adults in their sphere. We’ll leave it to you as teachers to organize how you can best pair the students so they’ve paired with everyone before starting over with the individual with whom they first paired.

Specifics for Elementary Students

So all children can find success regardless of their strengths, activities use different modalities, not always speaking.

Note: If your first or second grade students were part of this program last year, you may be able to start out from the beginning with paired sharing. We’ll gradually build to the point where students will master active listening without interruption. 

Note: It might help for each pair to have some kind of talking stick or object that one person holds first and then hands to the other when their turn is over.

When students are ready for paired sharing, we expect that you’ll adapt the time allotted for each partner to share based on your students’ capacity. Elementary students may only do well with 30 or 45 seconds initially; adjust the talking time as needed. The long-term goal is that by middle school, students can maintain two minutes of compassionate, caring eye contact while both speaking to and listening to a partner.

Getting Ready

One of the goals is that students find new partners daily so all “meet” all other students in the classroom repeatedly. Plan for a way you can best facilitate this and arrange the time slot or the location of students during the activity in a way that works best for you.

You can reinforce the program throughout the school year in the following ways: 

  • Use a talking object so students begin to learn how to take turns and are aware whose turn it is to speak.
  • Occasionally when students share at any time during class, make comments that reinforce that we are similar in many ways. Examples might include:
    • I bet others in the room have felt that way, too.
    • How many others of us have  [felt that way] [had something like that happen]?
  • Make statements that help students recognize that all environments are not the same. For some students who come from troubled homes, it might not be safe to say what is true or what is real. We want to help students recognize the distinction between school and other environments. Examples might include:
    • In our classroom, I want to make sure we always feel safe. I will always want you to tell me if something worries you.
    • When we’re at school, we want everyone to get along.
    • In our classroom, I always want us to have lots of kindness toward one another.

2 Minute Survey

Before you begin, please complete the teacher survey and have each of your students complete a survey of their own. The information gathered will help you track progress and will also be used to help us improve the 5 Radical Minutes program. In addition, feel free to incorporate any additional tracking methods you wish to use.

Teacher Survey

Student Survey