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Learning Goal

Students will learn how and why they should use I-Statements to communicate about their feelings.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the lessons, students will be able to:

  • Understand why I-Statements make communication about feelings easier
  • Use an I-Statement
  • Transform a You-Statement into an I-Statement
Learning Summary

I-Statements are a way of expressing feelings that encourages students to focus on what they are feeling instead on what others did. I-Statements can be used to discuss both positive and negative feelings, but they are particularly useful in conflict resolution: if we just talk about our own feelings instead of assigning blame, conversations can quickly move to resolution.

This lesson starts with a discussion of the difference between emotions and feelings and the value of talking about feelings and using I-Statements. After you outline some I-Statement “traps” (ways you make them blameful or otherwise ineffective), students work on turning You-Statements into I-Statements. You close with a discussion of how to make I-Statements less robotic and whether they can help with texting. In earlier grades, students learn the first two parts (K-2), then the third (3-5). The I-Statement for this age group consists of 4 parts, with the last part relevant in only certain situations: I Feel (emotion) when (event) because (thought about event). In the future please request/hope for future________.

computer icon Online Teaching Tips for I-Statements

The mindful moment for this lesson works better if students draw out the shape on a piece of paper at home.

The create-your-own emoji exercise listed under lesson variations can work well online, either live or as an assignment. If your class is relatively advanced, have them do it for the second or even third layer of the emotion wheel. Another fun assignment is to have to write a story using as many of the words in the emotion wheel as they can.

See lesson one on Mindfulness for our general remote SEL teaching recommendations.

I → You can be a good group work activity. Before you send them into groups (or even tell them their groups), give students time to work on the activity on their own. That way they arrive with some work already done. If possible, give them a shared document to work from.  

If you include the texting section of the lesson, have students use the online room chat to model texts they might send.

The I → You activity could easily be assigned as homework. If you include the section on texting, have students take a picture of their phone with an I-Statement written on it. 

CASEL Competencies

Self-awareness: The abilities to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior across contexts. This includes capacities to recognize one’s strengths and limitations with a well-grounded sense of confidence and purpose.

Relationship skills: The abilities to establish and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse individuals and groups. This includes the capacities to communicate clearly, listen actively, cooperate, work collaboratively to problem solve and negotiate conflict constructively, navigate settings with differing social and cultural demands and opportunities, provide leadership, and seek or offer help when needed.