Empathy is defined as, “The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”
Empathy is often considered a soft skill. Unfortunately, soft skills are not always explicitly taught. However, for students preparing for the future, it is important to learn what empathy is and how to understand the feelings of those around them. Not only will this provide the foundation for a better relationship with others, as they will most certainly be in roles that involve interactions, collaboration, and connections with others, but it will also help them understand their feelings and emotions.
So how do we teach empathy in school? Empathy is a complex concept, and it takes time to build an empathic mindset. While there are a variety of approaches to teaching empathy, there are three simple ways to get started today.
Build Classroom Community
Creating an empathic community and culture in the classroom and an entire school is essential. The classroom should be a safe environment where students feel comfortable being themselves. Establishing clear ground rules and allowing every child to have a voice without fear of bullying is important.
Choose Read Alouds That Encourage Empathy
Many of the ClassFlow teachers have recommended books they read aloud to their classes that touch on the theme of empathy. A few of these include, Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech, and Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days! By Stephen Manes. Reading aloud books such as these as well as mentor texts help touch on the theme of empathy and allow it to be integrated all year long.
Actions always speak louder than words. As a teacher, don’t forget that you can model empathy and kindness on a daily basis.