Teaching Your Students That There’s No Courage Without Fear

Fear of social failure is real.

It’s especially devastating for our socially challenged students.

If you’ve been continually rejected, ostracized, left out, marginalized, chosen last, avoided, and not invited to your classmates’ parties, why put yourself in a situation where you’re pretty sure that will happen again?

Learning the improvisation activities and cognitive awareness exercises in the SocialEyes Together® SEL curriculum is no guarantee against rejection, but it will teach our students that taking risks can lead to good results.

Experiencing risk-taking in an environment engineered to accept your offers (there are no mistakes in improv) sets our students up to become more resilient and confident about their social interactions.

There’s no courage without fear. Our fears don’t disappear. They just become more manageable.

Self-regulation isn’t about denying our fear and anxiety; it’s about learning to manage those powerful forces.

Self-regulation is about allowing the fear to have a place at our table. Courageously, we feel what we feel and go forward anyway.

When our students have these experiences of being socially successful, they learn to be brave with their lives. They open the door to new experiences and new outcomes.

Yes, and improv is key.

Here is a fun improv activity you can try with your students virtually.

This will help them experience social successes which strengthen their “courage muscle.”

Whether you have a formal Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum or have never implemented SEL before, you can integrate this into your school day to mix it up.

Activity: Family Reunion (virtual learning version)

Skills addressed:

  • Accepting ideas from others
  • Developing imagination
  • Flexibility
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Self-expression
  • Spontaneity
  • Waiting for a turn
  • Working in a group
  • self awareness
  • self expression
  • social awareness

To Play:

Say to participants:

“In this exercise we all will turn off our video and listen on purpose to the instructions. We are a family! And we’re going to a photography studio to get our pictures taken. Here’s the catch. We’re no ordinary family. We are quite special. How special? Well, I’ll announce how special right before we turn our video back on and we will pose like that special family would pose. 

“For example, if I say we are the superman family, then on the count of three, we will turn our video back on and be posing like superman. It takes courage to be ‘silly’ and playful. See if you can get your courage up to participate with us.”

Make sure everyone turns off video. The leader announces the type of family and reminds everyone to turn on their video posed as that family.

Special family ideas:

  • Cheerleader family portrait
  • Superhero family portrait
  • Wild animal family
  • Shy family
  • Snobby family
  • Family who ate too much
  • Most beautiful family ever
  • Ballerina family
  • Zombie family
  • Rock band family
  • Meditative/Zen Family
  • Model Posing family
  • High energy family
  • Sports family
  • Home improvement family

Helpful Side Coaching Tips to say during the activity:

  • It’s ok to let go and be silly with this.
  • Have fun. Don’t think too much.
  • Go with the first idea that comes to your mind.
  • Be brave with this game!

Look out for these behaviors:

Participants who

  • Feel uncomfortable playing. Tell them it’s ok to pass.
  • Don’t know what pose to make. Tell them to look at some of the other players and mirror them.

Discussion Questions: (Look at “Skills Addressed” to help guide this discussion as needed.)

  1. What was fun about this exercise?
  2. Which family pose did you like best?
  3. Did you watch the other players and make any changes after seeing their pose?
  4. Was it hard to think of a pose for some of the family types?
  5. What did this teach us about courage?
  6. How can this help us in our lives?

This activity is actually from an eBook originally created for the participants in a virtual training I led for school counselors. This eBook has 3 improv activities and 2 mindfulness exercises that get to the heart of Social Emotional Learning and call for students to become self-aware and socially aware, learn self-management strategies, improve their relationship skills, and make responsible decisions.

I have made it available to everyone in my community. Click here to send me your contact information and I’ll send it to you right away!

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