As we strive to help students build mindsets to promote self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making, one of the most important skills students need to build is empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand someone else’s experience from their own perspective. This valuable skill set helps students learn to be more accepting and tolerant of different ideas and perspectives, while also driving students to become global citizens and change-makers.
Empathy is such an important skill to have that many educators make it a part of their classroom culture. Teaching empathy in the classroom is an easy way to help students cultivate valuable skills while in a controlled environment with helpful resources and guidance.
Here are four tips for teaching empathy in the classroom:
- Model Empathy to Students
One of the best ways to teach any social emotional skills is by modeling these skills to your students. Children naturally mimic the way they see adults interact with the world, including how you respond with empathy to others in different situations. Modeling the mindset that We Are Connected helps students build their own social awareness, while a focus on modeling Live to Give shows students how their empathy can be translated into meaningful action.
- Give Students Readings That Offer Different Perspectives
Between readings to go along with your lesson plans, books in your classroom library, and timely news articles, it’s important to offer students a variety of different perspectives throughout the content that they read. By learning about diverse backgrounds, cultures, and life experiences, students can better understand the emotional experiences of a wider range of people.
- Create a Game That Offers Real-World Opportunities for Practicing Empathy
For students to practice empathy in their personal lives, they first must cultivate their ability to be empathetic in real-world situations. One great way to offer students practice is to create games or activities where students have opportunities to practice empathy. For example, students and teachers can create inspirational cards to give out to those in need of a bit of a pick-me-up, and in turn, those students can pass on the cards when they notice someone else who needs a smile.
- Share Resources That Promote Empathy and Kindness
As an educator, you’re never going to be able to answer every question students have about empathy. That’s why it’s so important to provide students with plenty of resources they can turn to when they need more information on a topic or guidance responding to a situation with empathy.
Teaching empathy is a key part of students’ social emotional learning. Students who are empathetic are stronger advocates for others, have an easier time navigating relationships, and are more committed to making change in the world around them. By utilizing these tips, you can help students learn to practice empathy and be stronger supporters of those around them.