Lesson Plan on Defeating Stereotypes in Schools

SoundOut students deliberate on important issues in a Seattle high school.
SoundOut students deliberate on important issues in a Seattle high school.

FACILITATOR NOTES

Introduction: This lesson plan is a communication-oriented session, engaging students and adults through role playing, intergenerational dialogue, critical thinking, and cooperative problem-solving. A mixed group of students and adults is required, with no fewer than 15 and no more than 100 participants total.

Goal: When this session is complete, participants should be able to…

  • Identify constructive and restrictive behaviors between students and adults
  • Examine stereotypes of students and adults at work in current activities
  • State how students and adults prefer to be treated and interact with each other

Time: 60-120 minutes

Materials: Flip chart paper and markers

Space Required: Large room with enough open space in the front for people to act out short scenarios.

Considerations: Role-plays can be a lot of fun and can provide the chance for people to act out situations in a non-threatening manner. These role-plays are designed to start the conversation about the role of respect in building Student-Adult Partnerships. People will explore how different behaviors are interpreted and how they can best convey respect. The purpose of these scenarios is to have the groups act as they think the characters would act, thus creating stereotypes of current activities.

You will need to set up these scenarios ahead of time as best you can, getting volunteers and assigning them their roles. Many of the roles require that different people in the same scenario be given instruction separately. Most of the volunteers will need a few minutes to plan out there scenarios.

If you’ve got the right numbers, you may be able to have everyone participate in one scenario and give the whole group a few minutes to get prepared. You may choose as many scenarios to do as you feel appropriate and as time allows. You may create new scenarios and/or want to adjust the details of the scenarios to make them more relevant to your group. Given the open-ended nature of the scenarios you’ll need to cut them off at a certain point otherwise they’ll go on and on. The scenarios don’t need to reach a resolution. You simply want then to raise issues and create an illustration.  

PROCEDURES

  1. [5 min per small group] Have participants break into small groups and assign each group one of scenarios following these procedures. You should take each small group aside and share their directions as detailed below. The group should have just a few moments to talk about their scenario, and then just a few minutes to act it out to the large group.
  1. [10 min per small group] After each scenario, refer to specific examples of behaviors you observed acted out and ask the following questions. Make a list of issues on flip chart paper of each major issue.
  • What just happened?
  • Why do you think that happened?
  • For the participants in the scenario: How was what happened different than what you expected? Why?
  • How did you feel about your role?
  • What issues/problems surfaced?
  1. [5 min] Staying in the same groups, assign each group one of the scenarios and give them the list of issues for that scenario. Their task is to re-create that scenario, but this time, considering the issues, make it work as effectively as possible.
  1. [10 min per small group] Re-play the new and improved scenarios. After each one, hold a brief discussion, asking:
  • What was different?
  • How well did it work?
  • For the participants, how did you feel this time?
  • Is there anything you’d still change?
  1. [15 min] After all the scenarios have been re-played, hold a group discussion:
  • Were there any reactions people had in any of the scenarios that surprised you? Why?
  • How did people show respect to each other?
  • What kinds of things do students and adults do or say that gets misinterpreted? Why?
  • How can such misunderstandings be prevented?

The Meeting Scenario

Facilitator Directions: Privately give “Student” instructions to one actor, and “Adult” instructions to several actors playing adults. Don’t share each group’s instructions!

Students: You have been asked by the principal of your school to attend a meeting about after-school programs because you’re involved with the community service club at school and help run an after-school tutoring program at the nearby middle school. You get out of school at 2:30, which is when the meeting starts and it will take you half and hour to get there by bus. You haven’t been given any information on the project so you’re not sure what it’s all about. You figure you can just go and listen at this first meeting and that there will be students from other high schools, too.

Adults: You are members of a coalition of community organizations and businesses which is trying to improve after-school programs for elementary and middle school students. You are having an important meeting to decide the type of activities which will be offered, you were told by the city (which is going to fund the programs) that you must have a student actively involved in your organization. Some people are against including students, believing that they will prevent getting work done. Some of you, however, are looking forward to hearing what students really what from after-school programs. The meeting started at 2:30, and it is 3:00 now. The student representative is not yet present. You character should broadly be well-meaning but un-helpful, polite but somewhat condescending. Don’t do introductions. Don’t explain what’s going on. Ask the student actor vague questions about what students want.


 

The Recruiting Scenario 

Facilitator Directions: Give the following directions to 1 actor playing an adult and a group of several students at the same time.

Students: It’s lunchtime. You’re hanging outside with friends, eating.

Adult: You’re recruiting people for an exciting new after-school community service program where people gain great job skills and have a lot of fun. Go talk with the group of students.


 

The Presentation Scenario

Facilitator Directions: Give the following directions privately to 1 student presenter and a mixed group of students and adults as the audience.

Audience: It’s Friday afternoon. You have just attended an assembly. It’s a three-day weekend coming up. A guest speaker is coming soon.

Student Presenter: You are a guest speaker in the class. You’ve spent hours putting this presentation together on how to get money for college and how to find a job after school. You really want to help. You have just walked into the classroom.


 

The Home Scenario

Facilitator Directions: Give the following directions at the same time to 2 adult playing parents and 2-4 students playing their teenage children. It’s okay to reverse the roles and have adults play the teenagers and students play the adults.

Students: It’s the big game of the season this Friday. Everybody is going to be there. You want to go and then go to a party afterwards. You want the car but know grandma and grandpa’s 50th anniversary is coming up.

Adults: Its grandma and grandpa’s 50th anniversary this Friday and you’ve planned a big surprise party for them. You need the kids there to help and you know grandma and grandpa would be pretty upset if they weren’t there.


 

The Restaurant Scenario

Facilitator Directions: Give the following directions separately to 1-2 actors playing adults with a group of several students, and 1 other actor playing an adult waitperson.

Group: You are having a meeting at a local restaurant about and up-coming community service event you’re planning. Because you are meeting, you haven’t really had any time to look at the menu.

Waitperson: Students come into your restaurant all the time and they’re usually very loud, rude and don’t leave you a tip. You don’t really like or have much patience for them. You really wish they’d stop coming. Adults, of course, are a different matter entirely.


 

Other Possible Scenarios

  • A student being interviewed for a job
  • A student having a conference about grades with a teacher
  • A student and an adult co-chairing a meeting

 

VARIATIONS

Try having students and adults reverse roles—this highlights their perceptions of how the other group acts. Also, rather than using pre-determined scenarios, have the group brainstorm possible students-adult scenarios, break up in to small groups, and then each small group creates a scenario to act out.

 

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