Meeting people we haven’t met before is what our Schools Linking Programme is all about. Getting to know someone different to ourselves is at the heart of our work but that doesn’t mean we don’t know how tricky that can be. Meeting someone new for the first time can be daunting. We know that children and young people taking part in the programme may be nervous and have concerns as well as being excited. Our Schools Linking Programme is designed so that teachers allow time to talk to everyone involved about how they’re feeling before they meet someone new. We have found that when the pupils involved in linking have had a chance to share anything that they’re nervous about or concerns they have, that linking is more likely to be a positive experience for them. We have plenty of ideas of how you might do this in our Resources area for staff leading linking work in their school (https://thelinkingnetwork.
With our secondary school students we have tried out a new resource this year called Flourishing Tree. The idea is familiar but we’ve adapted it so that students get to think about what a good outcome from their linking day might be. They are asked to think about how a tree grows and flourishes, what do the roots of a tree need for the tree to flourish and strong? What does a flourishing tree look like and how do we know it’s growing well? They then think about linking – how will they feel and what might they and others see if their link goes well? They also reflect on what needs to happen in order for linking to go well – what could they do to ensure they and others have a good experience? There’s plenty of opportunities to explore what scares us or makes us nervous about meeting someone new but also why it’s important and what positive things might happen as a result.
We’ve found that the students who have used this tool whilst preparing to link have considered what it means to meet someone new, how to make a good impression, how to make someone feel welcomed, how to be interested and chat to someone new. We’ve observed some great behaviours and attitudes during the links themselves and would recommend this activity to groups preparing to meet someone for the first time. What’s great is that this tool can be used in a range of different situations and hopefully the thinking will remain with students when they’re meeting new people in all sorts of contexts.
You can find a template and a simple guide for using Flourishing Tree in our Resources section. Let us know how you get on if you try it out!
You can download the Powerpoint resource here.