Empathy is important

Summary This post is about how to engage students in a discussion about empathy and different ways to show care and concern for others. My students determine the most appropriate way to help their classmates when they are feeling sad, upset, or lonely. This activity supports the development of the following social-emotional skills: relationship skills, responsible decision-making, self-awareness, and social awareness. Learning outcomes
  • Students engage in a discussion about how they practice empathy for others by taking appropriate actions that are caring and helpful.
  • Students understand that everyone has their own preferences around how they want others to treat them.
I implemented Scientix resource from Repository named “YOUR PAIN IS MY PAIN: WHAT MAKES US FEEL EMPATHY? in civic education and english language, school subjects that we learn in primary school. After reading the main resource I decided to expand the initial idea for my 11-year-old students to be able to understand the problems of their peers. I wanted to engage my 15 students in a discussion around how they practice empathy for others by taking appropriate actions that are caring and helpful. And we started learning how to connect with others through empathy. I made some adaptation to the main resource and then I share our lesson in 3 phases: Imagine, Learn and Reflect.
  1. Imagine: I ask students to imagine a classmate named Vanja, who is sitting alone on the playground because his/her best friend just moved away. Vanja is both male or female name. I ask the students to share their thoughts and write their responses on a school board that is visible to everyone. The questions:
    • What do you notice about how Vanja looks? ‍
    • What do you think Vanja is thinking about?‍
    • Can you feel for a moment with Vanja?
    • What actions can you take to help Vanja feel better?
  2. Learn: After the discussion and writing their ideas, I explain to my students what is empathy. Empathy is an important skill that helps us build strong connections with others. Practicing empathy consists of 1) considering another person’s point-of-view by “putting ourselves in their shoes,” 2) understanding and relating to their feelings, and 3) taking action to help them based on our understanding. Then I direct students to think about their own experiences receiving empathy from friends. How do they want others to treat them when they are feeling sad, lonely, or upset?
  3. Reflect: I ask my students to create and share writing or artwork that shows how empathy looks, sounds, and feels to them. They can draw or write how they want their friends to show them empathy. They all chose the shape of the heart to write and draw on empathy. Look some photos of their Empathy hearts.