When we meet with people, we usually do so with a table or desk between us. This creates a subtle barrier that can block us from full engagement and conversation.
To invite deeper, more intimate connection and conversation, consider the power of having students talking "knee-to-knee." This can be a way to open up a discussion on a new topic or to invite them deeper into an exploration of a topic or theme you're already working on.
The set-up is easy. Invite students to go into pairs, trios or even quads, moving away from their desks or tables and pulling up to each other so they are sitting knee-to-knee. If you want to start a session in this way, arrange the chairs ahead of time.
Then invite students to have a conversation. Some questions to consider (that you can adapt to your topic):
- What draws you here today?
- What are you bringing to this community?
- What excites you or interests you about this topic?
- What audacious goal could we set around this topic?
- What is your best experience related to this topic?
- What have you learned today that has the most meaning for you?
- How would you like to bring what we've learned today into your life?
Knee to knee conversation would work well in doing appreciative interviews. They can also work well in conjunction with great beginnings and with some of the strategies for promoting happiness and ending in style.
Try reflecting with students on how different conversations feel when they are sitting knee-to-knee rather than talking to each other across a table or desk. Do they notice a difference in the quality of the discussion? What are the differences that they observe? If they were uncomfortable with the set-up, why was that? What can they learn about themselves, as well as about the power of simple changes to the physical set-up of a conversation?
This is also something to try with other staff. How do staff meetings change, for example, if you spend a portion of time reflecting on an important question, sitting knee-to-knee with other people? Does the level of engagement change? Are you able to have a more authentic conversation?
If you try this strategy, leave us a note in comments on how it works. We'd love to hear from you!
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