“Think of your avatar” exercise (practicing active listening, deeper self-reflection skills, understand own and other’s values)
Participants will need a paper and pen. Timer to limit time is needed as well.
Purpose of use
This exercise is useful to explain to students a meaning of deep listening, ability to understand each other, become interested in each other’s personality, help to get to know to each other in a very quick and effective way, train ability to explain own feelings and thoughts, get to know to deeper layers of personality, reflect own thoughts and understand own and other’s values.
How to implement
Teacher divides all class into pairs. Each member of the pair must have his own empty paper sheet and a pen. Each writes his/her name on the sheet and exchange them within the pair. Then, they must think of an animal whose features and character or behaviour are mostly alike his or her. They write it down into their sheet of paper. Then, students must write down three features which would mostly represent the animal. Some participants will struggle to find their animal avatars. Let them think of flower or tree as alternative.
When above mentioned has been done, members of the pairs must exchange their sheets. Pairs must agree who will be the first to ask questions. So, the other one will be speaker. Teacher must explain that later roles will be switched between pair members.
The one whose role is to ask, shall ask speaker several questions in a row, following the sequence as below:
- Which animal (flower, tree) you have chosen?
- Which are the three features representing it?
- Let’s talk about the first feature – why is it so important to you? (in case the question is not understood by the speaker, the one who asks may explain, that the animas (or any other avatar) was chosen by him not accidently, but most probably because it has the same features of character of behaviour like the speaker has; therefore the features are important to him, if he (speaker) chose them. So, the exercise is about the importance).
- When speaker answer the third questions, next question shall be the same, but targeting another feature which he had heard from the speaker’s speech about the first feature. For instance: the speaker chose a lion as his avatar. The first feature he mentioned is braveness. While answering question ‘why this feature (braveness) is important to him’, he mentioned he likes to feel safe. The one who asks, must be able to catch the new feature, new part of the chain like braveness-safeness etc., – and continue asking the same question ‘why this feature (safeness) is important to speaker’.
- The process of asking the same question continues till the speaker is stuck within the same description or value of his understanding of his first feature. When it is obvious – there is no other way to find any other answer – the next question shall follow – ‘What would be even more important than this (in lion’s case it’s braveness or safeness).
- All answers must be written down by the student who gives questions.
- Each of the three features must go through complete journey of asking and answering.
- It is like a digging deeper and deeper into persons understanding of his own chose and values.
- The process may be stressful sometimes, because speaker will suddenly realize that he or she is nor ready to open his own feelings neither to any body else, nor to himself.
- There must be three features discussed in each pair and each member has answer the same question.
- When finished, pairs switch in roles.
- Process may take from 20 to 40 mins. The best way to organize it – limit the time of one way asking to 12 mins. And then switch.
When finished teacher must organize a reflection discussion about the exercise:
What was the most difficult during the exercise – to ask or to answer? Why?
What was special about asking only one question?
What do you remember most from the process? Why?
What is the real advantage of this exercise?
How will I use this experience in the future?