Chat and Connect
- Establish conversation norms that promote respectful and inclusive communication
- Discuss different topics to learn about each other, foster a sense of connection and empathy, and build stronger relationships
After students participate in a self-disclosure question-and-answer activity, during which they take turns sharing information about themselves, research shows that they experience greater feelings of closeness with their partners. During the exchange, educators should encourage students to practice diplomacy, inclusivity, and collaboration as they use compassionate and active listening skills to ask questions, share their stories, and relate to others' feelings and experiences.
To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.
- Introduce the activity by explaining: “How well do you know your classmates? Let’s find out! Over the next few weeks, we’re going to focus on learning more about each other. We’ll use some conversation topics to explore different parts of our lives, like our hobbies, dreams, opinions, and aspirations. Before we start, let’s establish some guidelines for approaching these discussions with kindness, curiosity, and respect.”
- Work with students to create a set of norms, such as:
• Be mindful of your body language by facing your partner, making appropriate eye-contact, and maintaining an attentive facial expression.
• Practice active listening by focusing on your partner, paying attention to their verbal and non-verbal cues, and responding with affirming words and gestures (e.g., “saying “mm-hmm” and nodding).
• Show curiosity by asking thoughtful and clarifying questions about what they share, and being open to different opinions, experiences, and backgrounds.
• Ensure that you and your partner have an equal opportunity to speak so that no one feels left out or ignored.
• Practice empathy by trying to understand and relate to your partner’s feelings and experiences, even when they are different from your own.
For each “Chat and Connect” session, ask students to find a conversation partner and encourage them to seek out classmates who they don’t know very well. Then, provide one of the following prompts.
- What do you think our dreams mean? Can you remember a dream that you had recently?
- If you could live in a fictional universe, which one would you choose and why? Who would you want to be?
- If you owned a store or restaurant, what would you sell? How would you design your space, and what would be unique about it?
- When was the last time that you laughed really, really hard? What was so funny?
- What do you consider to be the most important quality in a friend?
- What is a part of your culture that is important to you? (e.g., any favorite foods, holidays, customs, or traditions)
- What is your dream job?
- Do you have a favorite musician, author, or artist? What do you like about their work?
- What type of music do you enjoy listening to? How does it make you feel?
- If you could travel to any place in the world, where would you want to go? Why?
- What is something that is challenging or stressful for you? What helps you navigate these situations?
- What fictional character do you relate to most, and why?
- Can you describe another person’s act of kindness that had a lasting impact on you?
- How do you feel when you think about climate change?
- What is a skill or quality that you admire in others? Why?
- When you have a really stressful day, how do you like to relax?
- What does happiness feel like to you? What’s something that brought you joy recently?
- What is a misconception that people have about you or a group that you belong to?
- Is there a book, movie, or song that has had a profound impact on you? Why?
- What is a cause or social issue that you’re deeply passionate about? Why? What do you think can be done about it?
- If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
- What is something “small” that really, really annoys you?
- What is something that scares you?
- What would be a wonderful day for you?
- How do you react to a disagreement or argument? What helps you resolve conflicts?
- If you could relive any day of your life, which one would it be and why?
- What are some qualities of a good leader? Do you know anyone who has these qualities?
- What is something that you’re currently struggling with?
- What do you like about our school? What do you wish were different about it?
- What is an important part of your identity, and how does it shape your perspective or behavior?
- What are your thoughts on social media? What role does it play in your life?
- Would you want to be famous? Why or why not? And if yes, what would you want to be famous for?
- Do you think it’s better to be kind or be honest, and why?
- Would you want to live forever? Why or why not?
- Should the government provide free healthcare for people? Why or why not?
- What is something that we should make illegal?
- If you were stranded on an island by yourself, what three items would you want to bring?
- Do you think it’s possible to have universal peace? Why or why not?
- If you could travel in space, but it meant not seeing your friends or family for a year, would you do it?
- What is something that you’re really good at?
- If you could be friends with a famous person, who would you choose and why?
- What is your favorite kind of weather, and what activities do you enjoy on these days?
- How do you spend your time outside of school? What activities do you enjoy?
- What is your favorite holiday, and how do you celebrate it?
- What do you think was the most important invention or discovery in human history? Why?
- What is the best gift that someone has given you?
- If you could have a conversation with your younger self, what advice or encouragement would you share with them?
- If you could create a positive change in our city, what would it be and how would you do it?
- If you could time-travel to any era or historical event, which one would you choose to better understand the experiences of people living during that time?
- What is a book, movie, or TV show that helped you explore the perspective of someone different from yourself? What did you learn from it?
If students in both classes have individual devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)...
Use a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams which allows you to screen-share during a video call.
One educator should set up the Kahoot! game and share the code with students in both classes by following this tutorial about using Kahoot! in a remote learning environment, and share their screen so everyone can follow along.
If students in either class don’t have individual devices...
Follow the same instructions above, with one educator starting the game and sharing their screen so both classes can follow along.
Instead of students joining the game to answer the questions, they can hold up their fingers, call out their answer, or use a paper template to indicate their response.