The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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Teacher Lesson Return to "Falling Into Trust"
Falling Into Trust
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Opening Activity: 10 minutes

The story “Falling Into Trust” is about empathy and trust. To get your group to experience those things physically, lead them through the following exercise, known as “Mirroring.”

Everyone gets a partner. If there is an odd number, you can partner with one of the youth. Assign everyone to be either A or B, then instruct partners to stand facing each other, arms’ length apart. Explain that one will be the leader, and the other will be the “mirror.”

Explain that the leader makes simple, continuous movements, and the “mirror” follows. If the leader raises her right hand, the “mirror” should raise his left, just like the reflection in a mirror. Then say “A’s lead” and have them begin.

Tell the youth to try to maintain eye contact the whole time. The goal is to mirror the partner perfectly, so the leader should move slowly. The “mirror” should not try to anticipate the leader’s movements. Encourage the leader not to try to “trick” her partner with tough moves—the leader should perform movements that the “mirror” can follow.

After three minutes, call out “change,” and have the B’s start leading the A’s, picking up from where they are. After three minutes of that, say, “Now, no leaders. Try to mirror each other. If nothing seems to be happening, start a movement, but also be watching for your partner’s move.”

Let them do this for three minutes. Then call “Stop” and have the group sit in a circle. Ask everyone to report on how that felt for them. If nobody brings it up, ask about how it felt to hold eye contact for so long. Many will describe feeling initially uncomfortable and then less so. Encourage them to talk about what got them past their discomfort. Ask how it felt to collaborate on the third, leaderless part of the exercise. Finally, ask for words or phrases that describe what this exercise calls on or builds up in a person. If nobody says them, suggest “trust,” “empathy,” “understanding,” “patience,” and “ability to tolerate discomfort.” You may point out that the leader-follower segments also involve power, and the no-leader part shows how power can be shared.

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