By: Audra Lampkins and the 1st year students at Bloomington Center
During the first-year students’ social thinking group on Thursdays I decided to split the students up into two groups. I wanted students to be involved in the writing process for the article. I also wanted to get feedback from the students about what they have learned. Each group had to determine the leader and their note taker.
We discussed what is expected and unexpected of participants during group work using a variety of materials: Michelle Garcia Winner’s behavior map, social thinking worksheets, and Lesson 58 from a Jed Baker book. This is the map the students came up with when they are working as a group in school, at CIP, for study sessions, and so on.
Expected Behaviors -> How it Makes Others Feel -> How You Feel About Yourself
Unexpected Behaviors -> How it Makes Others Feel -> How You Feel About Yourself
After we completed this list they were given time to work together to answer questions. We initially started off by working on one question for about five minutes. While they were working, I would walk around and remind them of what is expected.
I provided positive feedback to students that were engaged in expected behaviors. By doing this, other students noticed and adjusted their behaviors.
After the first two questions, I allowed the students to have more time to complete the last two questions consecutively. I continued my role, this time only reinforcing good behaviors and not reminding the students of the expected behaviors. Below is a list of questions the students answered and each groups response:
What Have You Learned About Yourself?
- Expected vs. unexpected behaviors
- Initiating a conversation
- Cell phone etiquette
- Group conversations
- When you are feeling anxious
- Personal space
- Nonverbal cues
- Visual appearance
- How to make friends
- How not to get anxious
- How to respect people’s boundaries (verbally and physically) if you are anxious
- What people like to talk about
- What people like
- How to talk to people
Other questions include: How have you used these skills with students and staff at CIP? Outside of CIP? To make new friends or contacts?
After the meeting, I talked with the leaders of these groups. For the women’s group, Adria was selected as the leader. “Adria, how do you feel about the progress you have made in this social program?” Adria had this to say:
“I was talking to my parents and I think actually that social thinking is the area that I have improved in the most. Before I came here I was less confident socially. I didn’t conceptualize things like personal space or the importance of eye contact and initiating conversation with people in my class.”
“I have not mastered these skills but, they are emerging. Little by little I can see big gains in this area. I feel that going back to my former college will be an easier experience for me. I am more confident, I have a better handle on what I need to work on, and how I can work on them. I feel that these gains will be apparent to others. There is no amount of money that you can put on the value of this social thinking program at Bloomington.”