For Primary 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.
  • Glitter Bottles. This would be a great first project for your parent volunteers. You’ll need one bottle for each student in your classroom. (Find a variety of glitter bottles options here, here, and here.)
  • 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 primary 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 Primary Students

Many of the primary activities early in the year are structured for less talking and other kinds of enjoyable shared time. Some of the activities are such that students will do an activity independently and then share with one another what it was like for them.

Note: For those of you who teach first or second grade, if your students were part of this program last year, you may be able to start out from the beginning with paired sharing and the expectation that they’ll be able to listen only and speak only until you give them the signal for finding what they have in common. 

Initially, instead of shared pairing, we’ll have students just share as conversation. As you move through the year, you’ll be able to integrate the taking of turns as they learn listening skills in other parts of school.

Note: For kindergartners, learning to use a talking stick during rug time so everyone knows who is allowed to speak at that moment will help for paired sharing with 5 Radical Minutes. 

Once students have the clear concept of how only listening is different from conversation, you’ll be able to move into paired sharing. 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. Primary students may only do well with 30 or 45 seconds; adjust the talking time as needed. The long-term goal is that by middle school, students can maintain two minutes of compassionate or caring eye contact while listening to a partner and will be listened to in the same manner.

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. (Older students are asked to complete a student survey, but the younger grades will not need to complete this task.) 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