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Preparing Students for Difficult Conversations in the Classroom with Contemplative Visualization Exercises
Clear sky at sunset
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difficult conversations
Contemplative Sociology
Contemplative pedagogy
student well being
experiential learning
whole-student learning

How to Cite

Ross, Courtney. 2021. “Preparing Students for Difficult Conversations in the Classroom With Contemplative Visualization Exercises”. TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology, December. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.


Teaching sociology often involves difficult, painful conversations about injustice and collective trauma. These conversations can be emotionally demanding, which may influence a student's capacity to learn and to remain in sociological studies. Perpetual ideas that the academy embodies a culture of negativity, risks the manifestation of apathy and...

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Usage Notes

Clear The Sky Visualization exercise can be completed in five minutes at the end or beginning of class. The exercise can be coupled with an activity that can be completed in twenty to twenty-five minutes. An allotment of three to five minutes of freewriting and/or drawing can be added at the end of the exercise. An additional ten to fifteen minutes of...

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Learning Goals and Assessments

Learning Goal(s):

  1. Cultivate ethical values of gratitude, joy, kindness, compassion, and equanimity.
  2. Develop an understanding of critical first-person learning for the sociological perspective. The intention positions students in the context of investigating critical thinking and in the world. The students explore the role of ‘knowing’ how we know in order to gain a personal epistemological perspective.

Goal Assessment(s):

  1. Students utilize blogging, reflective journaling, drawing, audio recording, video or any combination of methods to chronicle and to evaluate their classroom experiences as they unfold over the semester while examining their own conditioned and unquestioned assumptions, biases, opinions, and motives that could potentially distort understanding of the...
  2. Students compose an Autobiography to critically examine the combined relationship of their course experience to their personal life, their interpersonal relationships, and the social world. Students are prompted to utilize course concepts and theoretical perspectives that may impact and explain these connections. The students are also prompted to extend...

When using resources from TRAILS, please include a clear and legible citation.

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