Lessons in empathy can start with teachers
- Teachers at an elementary school outside of the Chicago area last week became learners as they shadowed students to gain a better understanding of the children’s routines and challenges throughout the day, according to the Daily Herald.
- The Fremont Intermediate School teachers walked the halls during class transitions, ate cafeteria food and took part in class activities to experience school from the students’ perspective.
- One educator said the exercise helped her think about whether teachers’ expectations are clear to students as they interact with different teachers throughout the day.
As schools incorporate more social-emotional learning into instruction, empathy for others has been one of the characteristics school leaders want students to develop. This process can start with administrators and teachers learning more about students’ experiences both in and out of school — especially those of students from different cultural, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Once a year at Oakland International High School in California, for example, students lead their teachers in a lesson about what it’s like to be an immigrant. Unaccompanied minor students will take teachers on a tour of a shelter or a legal aid agency, and Muslim students might organize a field trip to a mosque.
Building students’ ability to be empathetic toward each other can involve similar activities. Teaching Tolerance, for example, provides lessons in which students participate in role-playing exercises and ask themselves questions such as whether they make fun of other people and try to understand others’ point of view.
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