Social etiquette is more than simply manners, according to the Emily Post Institute; it comprises "respect, consideration, and honesty." When planning to teach social etiquette, think of the challenge as that of teaching a set of codes and passwords that translate into these core concepts. Nobody is born with innate knowledge about how to answer the phone, respond to a gift or greet a stranger at a party; these learnt skills, however, make a significant impact on relationships and, by extension, our likelihood to succeed. Keep the age group of your students in mind while planning your lesson as well as your students' various cultural backgrounds and the different assumptions about social etiquette that they may have been taught at home.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Computer with word-processing software
- E-mail handouts or computers with e-mail access
Write your lesson plan objective at the top of the page. This helps focus your lesson planning, conforms to most school districts' planning guidelines and reminds you to inform your students of your objective before teaching the lesson. An appropriate example objective would be "Inform students of core elements of social etiquette, including communication, dining and gift practices, in most parts of the United States. Give students ample time to practice essential behaviours."
Choose one to three specific domains of social etiquette to focus on, depending on the time allotted to teach your lesson plan and the number of lesson plans you will teach on the topic. To keep it simple, let's say you choose to focus on e-mail etiquette for eighth-grade students.
Break your lesson plan into four sections: overview, activity, reflection and review. Depending on how long your class period is, you may want to divide this plan over 2 days.
Write your lesson plan's overview. Your overview is a statement of the lesson plan's objective, a discussion of the lesson plan's format and a mini-lesson on your core concept.
Plan to teach e-mail etiquette during your overview with a short, mini-lesson meant to engage students. For example, ask students what they already know about e-mail etiquette. Write their responses on the board. Ask whether any student disagrees with anything on the board and erase or add according to their and your own responses. The finished word map on the board should list every piece of e-mail etiquette you plan to teach, thus creating a visual overview of the lesson.
Break down your main activity into easy-to-follow steps on your lesson plan. A sample e-mail etiquette activity might ask students to pair up, each pair at a computer. Ask students to open their school e-mail in-boxes and close all other windows. Send the whole class a series of sample e-mails from different types of people: a potential employer, a classmate, a teacher, a neighbour and a friend of a friend. Your sample e-mails should have been drafted and saved before class so that all you have to do is send. Students must work in pairs to respond to each e-mail using proper e-mail etiquette. Give them a deadline, ask them to sign each e-mail with both of their names and use these e-mails as graded class work.
Build in at least 5 minutes of reflection into your lesson plan. Reflection may entail group discussion or journal writing in which you ask students to reflect on a piece of social etiquette that they had never heard of before today or a kind of social behaviour that they still find confusing. If the reflection is written, collect it and use it as a guide for what to review. If the reflection is oral, make notes and use the notes for review. Reflection gives students an opportunity to make meaning of their learning, which tends to help them remember your lesson.
Write questions or methods you will use to review the lesson plan with the class, ideally the day after the bulk of the plan was taught. Plan to respond to students' reflections briefly, acknowledging outstanding questions and concerns they expressed. Then lead the class in a brief review activity. Ask students to take turns making up and responding to short oral e-mail messages and then discuss whether proper etiquette was used. Or, ask the class to come up with, from memory, the core etiquette concepts you studied and write them on the board again. Whatever review method you choose, build in qualitative assessment. You need to hear from the students that they learnt, whether it is through performance, writing or a game.
Tips and warnings
- Save a copy of your lesson plan on your computer or an external storage device for future reference.
- Tie your lesson into the larger curriculum as much as possible. If you studied a character or historical figure that used or did not use relevant social etiquette, discuss that.
- Acknowledge to your students that social etiquette differs between countries and cultures and validate that some of them may use a different etiquette at home just like they may use a different language at home. The core reason for learning social etiquette is to learn how to respect one another and avoid being misunderstood in social and professional contexts.
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