Illuminations salons: Change is expected - Teaching Empathy Institute
Teaching Empathy Institute works to establish emotionally and physically safe learning communities for elementary, middle and high school students and the adults who work with them. Working in the Hudson Valley of New York, TEI creates tailor-made programs designed to foster dialogue about social culture building while strengthening the capacity for the infusion of empathy and compassion into all aspects of the learning experience.
Teaching Empathy Institute, SEL, Social and emotional learning, mindfulness, diversity, education, bullying, anti-bullying, k-12, learning, david levine, school of belonging
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Illuminations salons: Change is expected

Salons are the scaffolding for conversation.  They are a “third place,” an alternative to work and home.  The third place is less defined in structure and specific functions than work and home, but no less deliberate in its value to a community.  In Ireland they are the pubs, in Seattle, the coffee houses.   

Within the salon experience, conversation is key; partly because it creates contact with another mind, imparts a value to communication, and creates connected, ever enlarging experiments with influencing others.  It allows us to experience how others represent reality and how they process information.  It allows us to experiment and practice making noises, expressions, and movements that get us the response feedback we need to master more complex environments.   

We endeavor at TEI’s salons to create a positive emotional mindset by encouraging challenging, thrilling conversation, choosing a setting that creates comfort and trust, and paying attention to how size, time, and process impacts the group experience.  The medium of “dialogue,” is the preferred one, in that it seeks conversation and thought that builds and contributes rather than challenges and distracts.  The distinctions of dialogue are the positive expectations that underlie the practice.  Facilitated dialogue encourages the contribution of everyone; always asking, “who haven’t we heard from?”  TEI dialogue groups are responsible for working with facilitators to develop themselves, asking how the quality can be improved, and identifying problems to be solved; going deeper and raising expectations. 

TEI’s Illuminations dialogue sessions can and will be focused at times on themes or topics.  Sometimes it’s instructional to focus the dialogue to stretch a group and take them into less familiar territory.  We expect that often these will be suggested by the participants as well as TEI.  We’re not beyond going to the familiar; books and films are always worthy.

By definition, salons are mutually created.  Leadership is distributed and change is expected.