What is Allies?
Allies is a program where boys and girls learn and practice ways to navigate through tough social situations with friends and classmates. In a fun and safe environment Allies:
• Learn functions of parts of the brain and the effects on thoughts, emotions, and behavior
• Identify social problems, discuss various solutions, then create role-playing scenarios to share with others
• Practice assertiveness by focusing on effective body stance, voice, and words so they can respond to stressful and emotional situations with confidence and kindness
• Learn to consider other’s points of view with empathy and compassion
• Become a member of a close, caring group of classmates, learning and having fun together
Here I will give a brief description of the lessons and the approximate progression of the program. Cliche warning: It’s about the journey, not the destination. I’m passionate about the information shared at Allies. The biggest challenge with leading a class like this is recognizing when to move forward with a particular lesson and when to let the group lead you to what they need.
Learning Target: It’s all about connecting as a group and setting up expectations and agreements.
- Start with introductions and team building activities and icebreakers.
- Create an Allies agreement. Allies agree to listen and share, create a safe place, keep it private, and have fun. Make a poster and sign it together.
- Share what they will learn in Allies.
- How your brain works and how it affects your emotions and thoughts; your actions and decisions.
- To RESPOND rather the REACT to stressful situations.
- Peaceful communication
- Difference between conflict and bullying
- How to respond to conflict and bullying
- What to say
- How to solve problems peacefully
- How to be a better friend
- What to do when you or someone else is bullied
- When and how to ask for help
What ever you do not get to just do it next time. Remember the focus is having fun and team building.
Learning Target: Allies will learn the function of the pre-frontal cortex and amygdala and understand how it affects thoughts and behavior. Keep it fun and make connections and trust stronger.
- Start with a fun game.
- Review Allies agreement. (Post it on the wall for easy reference).
- Describe Dan Siegel’s hand model of the brain. Also can show short YouTube clip of Dan Siegel.
- Allies all get a spiral notebook to make drawings, notes, and glue in handouts given to them throughout the program. Hand out spiral notebooks and they decorate them. Keep the notebooks for them (because when you only meet once a week they often forget to bring them) and when the program is over they take them home.
- Share Whole Brain Child handout Downstairs and Upstairs Brain and image of brain to glue into notebooks.
- Play a fun game if time.
- Create a unique way to close the meetings.
Learning Target: Allies will be introduced to the Zones of Regulation and the feelings that go with each zone. Allies will identify what makes them go into the red and yellow zones and how it feels in their bodies when they are about to flip their lids.
- Review the hand model of the brain. Ask for an Ally to describe it to the group.
- Introduce the Zones of Regulation.
- Allies draw and write what makes them go into the red zone on a large piece of red poster paper. The poster will have the title Red Zone with the emotions written around the title.
- Play a game.
- Close with Allies cheer.
Learning Target: Allies will explore and share ways to get calm when they feel they are about to flip their lid. They will understand the roles of the right and left brains adding Move it or Lose it, Name it to Tame it, Fake it Till You Make It to the list of calming strategies. For each poster we make, I type it and give it to them the following week to put in their notebooks.
1. Share the typed version of the Red Zone poster. Pass out to glue into notebooks.
2. Give group green poster paper and markers. Have them draw and write what they do to get calm.
3. Name It to Tame it: Introduce Your Left Brain and Your Right Brain printout. Explain how the big emotions of the right brain can be calmed with words from the left brain.
4. Move it or Lose it: A change of scenery or moving your body can also get us out of the red zone.
5. Fake it Till You Make It: Changing our posture, thoughts, and facial expressions can trick our brains into getting calm. Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk
Learning Target: Continue exploring the zones of regulation. Take time for sharing stories.
- Ask if there were times in the last week when you felt yourself going into the yellow or red zone. (Share a personal story to get them started).
- What did your body feel like?
- Where you able to catch yourself before you flipped your lid?
- What did you do to get calm?
- Make three categories on the whiteboard with the headings Name it to Tame it, Move It or Lose It, and Fake It Till You Make it.
- Allies help put Ways to Calm into categories. Add new ideas.
- Add handouts to notebooks.
Learning Target: Allies will explore to how to resolve conflict peacefully by learning to think about what the other person wants, saying what you need, and coming up with a solution that works for all involved.
- Read Sam and the Goodwill Sandwich.
- Ask about a time that a friend or classmate said something that hurt you but you don’t believe that was their intention.
- Show the Goodwill Sandwich examples.
- Practice making sandwiches with a partner.
Learning Target: Allies will consider the impact of labeling people and how to change sticky labels (I am, You are) into temporary feelings (I feel, You feel).
- Make a list with the Allies of all the labels that we give people, ie. stupid, goody-two-shoes, scaredy cat, nerd, bully, victim, loser, nice, teacher’s pet, smart, angry, happy.
- Give each Ally a label and have them write one of the labels on the label and put it on. Explain that labels are sticky. They define us and put us in a box. When we give ourselves or someone else a label it is hard for that person to grow or change. It is difficult for us to see ourselves or someone else as capable of being anything else.
- Try changing the label into a feeling. “I am a loser” to “I feel like a loser”. We know that feelings come and go – it is temporary description of how you feel; not who you are.
One of the Allies shared this video about labels. Powerful.
- Read Sam Takes a Stand
- Show Assertive/Aggressive/Passive poster. Explain each: eye contact, face, voice, body posture, gestures, and intensity.
- Act out an action assertively, aggressively, passively, passive-aggressively.
- Say “I like your shirt”
- Ask someone if you can sit with them at lunch.
- Introduce yourself to someone new.
- Throw a ball.
- Walk across the room.
- Find a seat on the bus.
- You just won a game.
4. The rest of the group tries to guess which way those chose to act out.
Speak Up for Yourself
- Give paper to glue into notebook.
- Discuss situations where someone was intentionally trying to hurt you.
- Which comebacks would work?
- Any new ones we can add to the list? Remember strong, but kind. If you don’t feel strong – fake it!