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Try, Reflect, Try Again

A structure to practice communicating thoughtfully in disagreement

This was very engaging! We used the 10-minute intro to communication styles and then the discussion prompt about a controversial t-shirt to introduce our all our high school students to this reflection routine.

High School Teacher, Mexico


  • Communication skills

  • Self-awareness (metacognition, emotional awareness, group behavior)

  • Growth mindset

  • Text/media/data analysis (depending on the prompt you choose)


  • 5th-12th and beyond


  • Advisory / SEL

  • English & Language Arts

  • Social Studies, History

  • STEM


  • 40+ minutes

TRY to reach consensus as a group.
REFLECT on your group experience and communication.

TRY AGAIN to communicate effectively with your group.


PURPOSE: Engage people in analyzing and discussing an artifact (a text, school policy, data, etc.) where there is a possibility disagreement about the interpretation or implications. The incorporated reflection process supports noticing thoughts, emotions, assumptions, and communication patterns and then invites people to try again to listen to oneself and others. 

WHEN TO USE: When there is something important for a group to discuss and/or improving communication matters. This is highly adaptable to different subject areas. 


  1. Try to reach a consensus or solve a problem as a group 

    • First, take a few minutes to individually come up with their answers.

    • Then in small groups try to come to agreement. (We recommend beginning with groups of four for 5-10 minutes.)

  2. Reflect. (The template student-facing slides include all the reflection questions.)

    • How did you feel in the conversation and when you saw the controversial prompt? 

    • What thoughts did you have? Do you believe they’re true in retrospect?

    • How did you communicate when you when you were believing those thoughts and having those feelings? 

    • What’s a way you’d like to try responding when you disagree?

  3. Try again! Return to small groups. Continue with the previous prompt, or a new one, and then reflect. 


  1. Select an artifact (text, policy statement, image, etc.) and discussion prompts that are safe and relevant to discuss in your context. 


  2. ​(OPTIONAL) Print field notes pages for students to track their discussion responses and reflections.

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Sample discussion prompts
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