In moderated dialogue sessions between students and teachers we create a suitable environment in which difficult and (culturally) sensitive subjects can be openly addressed. The object is to create a space in which students and teachers can get to know each other in a different way, can exchange perspectives, clear up misunderstandings and together develop strategies for solving conflicts. These dialogue sessions may either be part of the regular group work or take place as a school project during project days or weeks. The aim is to contribute to an atmosphere in the classroom that promotes learning processes and to a dialogue-oriented school culture.
Our dialogue facilitators also are available as contacts for students and teachers, when frictions and conflicts occur in the schools’ intercultural interactions.
Experts in everyday life
Since 2009, we have gained a comprehensive insight into the everyday life of our students, many of which come from socially disadvantaged and not learning-oriented families with an immigration background. They told us what they are interested in, what affects them and what concerns and worries them every single day. We have acquired a wealth of knowledge, which we pass on in our trainings to our dialogue facilitators. This knowledge can also be put to good use in seminars and further trainings for prospective teachers, experienced teachers and for research purposes.
In addition to our regular dialogue sessions, in which we discuss issues and subjects taken from the students‘ everyday experience, Dialog macht Schule also relies on long-term projects.
Working with the film medium proved to be particularly successful in enabling students to make their own experiences and providing a sense of achievement. In film projects running over several months students worked on stories they had chosen themselves, wrote scripts and created storyboards, learned how to use camera equipment and edited their films using editing software. What was particularly valuable in this kind of work was that students learned how to put a problem in a wider context, how to work without pressure or stress on a subject over several months and in doing so gain a deeper insight. In addition, once the films were completed, they became starting points of further discussions in other courses or with teachers of other subjects.
Youth Councillors in Stuttgart
In Stuttgart, Dialog macht Schule is very actively involved in the training of youth councillors. The Stuttgart Youth Councils are directly elected and represent the young people of the city’s various districts. In regular training sessions lasting several hours we introduce the youth councillors to the dialogue approach and offer exercises aimed at team building and improving communication skills. Youth councillors want to be politically engaged and therefore profit a lot from our experience in dealing with controversial issues and heterogeneous groups.
We regularly follow up our trainings, i.e. we try to visit each youth council every few months to discuss the progress made in the meantime. This ensures continuity in the youth councils’ cooperation with Dialog macht Schule as well a close connection with our concepts and aims.
Dialog macht Schule is working in schools over a long period of time. This enables us to involve other projects or workshops such as “Show racism the red card” or “SchoolTalks” and initiatives such as “Schule ohne Rassismus” (school without racism) etc. in our own projects and prepare this cooperation and follow it up over a longer period of time ensuring a more sustainable learning effect.