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8 Ways to Encourage Healthy Debate in the Classroom

No ideas are silly

Everyone is entitled to their own unique opinionIt is important that your students feel that they have a safe, supportive environment where they feel encouraged to share their thoughts and feelings openly without fear of rejection or judgement. 

Play emotional charades. Prompt students to act an emotion out using a facial expression or movement to express their unique voices and feelings.

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8 Ways to Encourage Healthy Debate in the Classroom

8 Ways to Encourage Healthy Debate in the Classroom

https://medium.com/@MoveThisWorld/8-ways-to-encourage-healthy-debate-in-the-classroom-53124a7cfe00

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Key Ideas

No ideas are silly

Everyone is entitled to their own unique opinionIt is important that your students feel that they have a safe, supportive environment where they feel encouraged to share their thoughts and feelings openly without fear of rejection or judgement. 

Play emotional charades. Prompt students to act an emotion out using a facial expression or movement to express their unique voices and feelings.

Actively listen

In order for you to contribute to an ongoing discussion, you must be paying attention to the points that your classmates are bringing to the table. 

Remember how it felt when others were actively listening to you by showing the same respect to others when they speak.

Step up, step back

If you notice that you are speaking up more than your classmates, take a step back to allow others’ opinions to be represented. 

If you notice that you are offering fewer points in the discussion, speak up — your opinions are valued.

Put yourself in someone else’s shoes

It is important to remain respectful when you do not share the same views as your classmates. Attempt to at least try to see things from another perspective. 

One exercise you can to do to practice this in the classroom is kinesthetic mirroring. By mirroring what another person is showing in their body and face with your own body, you can develop a more profound empathetic connection than you would be able to express with words.

Breathe before you speak

... to calm any nerves you may have. 

Take this time to collect your thoughts and organize your ideas to ensure you’re presenting your position thoughtfully, and not just speaking from emotion.

Arrange the seating

For a debate setting, unless your speakers are standing at the front of the room, move the desks into a semi-circle shape to invite more open dialogue between students.

Model respectful conflict management

Accept that there will not necessarily be a resolution. 

Conflicts are okay when managed in a healthy way. It’s important to remind students that despite differences, we must always respect the thoughts and opinions of our classmates.

Welcome diverse voices

In inviting diverse voices in the classroom, you’re reminding your students that it is okay to have different perspectives and that they should be viewed as an opportunity to learn something new.

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Always assume you don’t know the tone of any written communication you receive and openly inquire as to the emotions of your debate partner.

Stating the desired outcome

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Before beginning any debate or argument, discuss with the other party a purposeful outcome and define clear rules of engagement.

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