Good conversational skills are at the heart of developing positive relationships. Open and respectful communication within relationships occurs when all parties are able to express their ideas, thoughts and views. This communication should be equal and provide opportunities for students to express things that are upsetting or disrespectful, or that go against their values. By learning the role of effective communication, and what it looks like, students will be empowered to build and maintain healthy relationships.

Year level



60 minutes


In class activity

Online learning

SEL Competencies



Social awareness

Relationship skills

Learning intention

Students learn about the importance of open and respectful communication for building and developing friendships.

Key outcomes

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

  • identify forms of open communication

  • understand the role of different relationships in their life

  • reflect on their own communication skills.

Materials needed

  • A4 paper, A3 paper, or virtual equivalent such as Miro

Mapped to

Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education

  • Refine, evaluate and adapt strategies for managing changes and transitions (AC9HP10P02)

Australian Curriculum: General Capabilities

  • Personal and Social Capability:

    • Social awareness

    • Social management

  • Critical and Creative Thinking:

  • Reflecting

NSW PDHPE Syllabus

  • Analyses factors and strategies that enhance inclusivity, equality and respectful relationships (PD5-3)

  • Critiques their ability to enact interpersonal skills to build and maintain respectful and inclusive relationships in a variety of groups or contexts (PD5-10)

Victorian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education

  • Evaluate factors that shape identities, and analyse how individuals impact the identities of others (VCHPEP142)

Show details

Activity 1

Roundtable activity: The effects of communication 

40 minutes

This activity is designed to highlight the important role of positive relationships for student wellbeing.

1. Write ‘What effect does open and respectful communication have on building healthy relationships and personal wellbeing?’ on a whiteboard or in a central location.

2. Set up five stations around the room with A3 paper, or virtually with a digital mind-mapping tool. Label each station as follows:

  • Teacher

  • Adult family member

  • Brother, sister or cousin

  • Friend at school

  • Friend outside school with whom they share a structured activity (e.g. sport, drama, debating, Girl Guides/Scouts).

3. At each station, ask students to write ways they can communicate openly and respectfully with the person named on the sheet of paper at the station. Encourage students to be specific, rather than general.

4. After a few minutes, ask students to move to a new station in a round robin style, and to record ways they can communicate openly and respectfully with the person named on the sheet of paper at the new station. Each group/student should try to avoid repeating an answer that has already been written.

5. Students repeat the activity until they have visited all five stations.

Activity 2

Chat and connect: Practising conversational skills

20 minutes

1. Randomly assign students partners, in a way that maximises contact between students who don’t know each other very well.

2. Give students 2–3 minutes to discuss a relationship topic. Suggested topics include:

  • What types of relationships can you have? (e.g. friendship, family, parent/child, romantic, professional, teacher/student, mentor/mentee)

  • Why can relationships look different in different situations? (e.g. context, boundaries, personality matches)

  • Why do we need more than one type of relationship for our wellbeing? (e.g. different types of support, bring out different sides of us, not dependent on one person)

  • What is meant by the statement ‘each relationship in our life is unique’? (e.g. like different things about it, different strengths, interests, sides of our personality)

  • Why is respect important for building healthy relationships? (e.g. trust, feeling valued)

  • How does open communication improve relationships? (e.g. understanding, compassion, respect)

3. After the initial discussion, assign students new partners to discuss a second relationship topic for 2–3 minutes.

4. Assign students a third partner to discuss a third relationship topic for 2–3 minutes.

5. Individually, ask students to write in their notebook three reflections on their interaction during the conversation. Encourage students to consider what they did well and what they could improve on next time.

Debrief: Explain to students that communication skills can be developed over time. By reflecting on how they talk and interact with their friends, students can learn how to communicate more openly and clearly with each other.


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