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I recently had the pleasure of leading a training for BAYAC/OCASA AmeriCorps on Behavior Guidance. I co-facilitated the training with the wonderful Leah Weitz. It was held in Preservation Park, and there were about 80 folks in attendance.
The training was grounded in child and youth development principles and used a variety of educational styles including icebreakers, co-creation/peer learning, brainstorming, and even some lecture (though we kept our lecturing to less than a third of the experience).
During my session, I was asked, "What do you do with a student who doesn't want to talk?" I responded, "Let silence be your friend. Let it become awkward. Soon, she/he will talk. It might not be on topic, but once someone is talking then you can help guide the conversation." There was an audible, "ahhh...", that fell across the room.
Silence is such a simple strategy. And in our culture of consistent noise, silence speaks volumes. Often, I find people have a really hard time with silence. (Hey, even I try to fill space with my own voice.) It is uncomfortable and somewhat disturbing.
Silence is also a response, and it is definitely a response worth noting when related to behavior guidance. Sometimes, quiet is needed to think, create space, and find the words and/or expressions needed. When working with youth (or anyone really), it is crucial to note that everyone shows up differently, has different ways of processing information and events. If we always are filling space with noise, we do not meet people where they are at. And with behavior guidance, it is youth workers' job to meet youth where they are at.