Technique: Tales From The Trenches

This exercise gives everyone a chance to participate without forcing anyone to speak to the group at large.

First Telling: Dyads (10 minutes)

  • Break the full group up into dyads (groups of two).
  • Take five minutes for each person to tell the other a story or share a concern. At the end of five minutes, ask the speakers to switch.

Second Telling: Full Group (30 minutes)

  • Bring the group back together and invite each pair to tell one of their stories to the larger group.
  • After all pairs have told a story (or passed), open the floor for comments from everyone.

Tip: This technique works best if all participants agree to confidentiality. When they leave the room, they are free to tell their own tales again, but not to reveal each other’s stories without explicit permission.

Adapted from Brookfield and Preskill, Discussion as a Way of Teaching: Tools and Techniques for Democratic Classrooms