Bringing Empathy into Your Classroom

flickr photo by Weird Beard https://flickr.com/photos/atcevik/140493231 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Edutopia recently curated several recent resources on empathy.

  1. Lauren Owen has a piece titled, “Empathy  in the Classroom: Why Should I Care?”

“I vividly remember sitting in my classroom with my teaching coach, ready to begin my second year of teaching. We were strategizing my vision for the classroom and for my students. Over the past year, the school where I worked had grown increasingly obsessed with test scores, but the more I considered my students and their needs, the less test scores motivated me.

“Lauren, what do your students need?” my coach asked me.

I paused. They need . . . empathy, I thought before saying it out loud. Shortly after, I had constructed my entire classroom around the concept.

That year, empathy became a central component of my classroom instruction. Given that I taught history, empathy naturally lent itself to discussions of varying perspectives about and intentions of history’s key players. The deeper our discussions went, though, the more convinced I became that empathy needed to be a central piece in every school setting.

3 Benefits of Empathy in Education

Empathyed.org quotes Tyler Colasante by defining empathy “as ‘the intrapersonal realization of another’s plight that illuminates the potential consequences of one’s own actions on the lives of others’ (as cited in Hollingsworth, 2003, p.146).” As educators, incorporating empathy into instruction can have positive results for your immediate classroom, as well as for the community outside of the school building.”  Read the rest of the post, including an excellent list of resources, here

2. Another post at Edutopia brings together videos on the importance of empathy, including Brene Brown’s excellent segment:

See the rest of the suggestions here.

3. A final recent resource on empathy in schools from Edutopia is Design Thinking in Education: Empathy, Challenge, Discovery, and Sharing. Check it out here.

Exit Tickets ~ Formative Assessments +++

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flickr photo by alykat http://flickr.com/photos/alykat/5848722 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

One of my favorite classroom assessment and teacher feedback strategies is the exit slip or exit ticket.  This quick activity can be done in a couple of minutes and provides teachers with essential information about what students have learned, what they may misunderstand, and/or how they are feeling about a particular lesson.

The Teaching Channel has a great segment on exit tickets, including a couple of clips.

The Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching & Learning at Brown University has an excellent page on exit tickets, including examples.

Edutopia includes a post with ways to use exit tickets to plan for future lessons.

“An exit slip can also be be a great way to set up the next day’s learning. With that in mind, here’s a few uses to consider:

Discover Shared Interests

Before introducing a group project that includes student choice, students can respond to a strategic question via an exit slip, sharing their primary topics of interest and their reasons.

Activate Prior Knowledge

Instead of taking time during class to create a concept/topic map, you can provide students with the concept or topic word at the end of class, activating their prior knowledge, and have them write words and phrases related to it on their half sheet of paper. When they come into the classroom the next day, they will see all their ideas displayed around the main word or phrase. This brainstorm also serves as a diagnostic check for the teacher.”  Read the rest of the piece here.

Growth Mindset Strategies from Edutopia

creative commons licensed (BY-NC) flickr photo by doc(q)man: http://flickr.com/photos/docman/6107473

Edutopia recently shared a new compilation of resources for teaching and nurturing a growth mindset.

Carol Dweck shares a new post which lists several important misunderstandings and applications of growth mindset in schools. One aspect she notes is the act of praising effort alone, without specifically giving students feedback on their learning.

“In many quarters, growth mindset was boiled down to praising effort. Yes, our work had shown that praising students’ process (their hard work, strategies, focus, and persistence) and tying it to their performance, learning, or progress could promote a growth mindset. But in many teachers’ practice, it had become divorced from any learning or progress. “Great effort” became the consolation prize for children who weren’t learning. So the very students who most needed to learn about developing their abilities were instead receiving praise for their ineffective effort.

Teachers need to tell the truth. They can acknowledge laudable effort, but they also need to acknowledge when students are not learning effectively, and then work with them to find new learning strategies.”  Read the rest of the post here.

Ellie Cowen has a great piece on productive struggle.  She begins by describing a young student’s experience and approach to solving a math problem and continues by describing the reasons behind starting lessons with productive struggle for students.

“The format of Mrs. Tambor’s math lesson reflected her desire to build productive struggle into her students’ daily educational experience. To ensure plenty of time for puzzling and reasoning, she started her lesson with independent work time, moving into the teacher-centered portion of the lesson only after students had been studying the problem, first independently and then in pairs, for more than half of their math block.

Why would a teacher decide to structure a math lesson this way? Here are a few reasons that teachers have shared with me:

1. It prioritizes the student-centered portion of lesson.

If time runs out, the students’ time to explore isn’t cut short or eliminated.

2. It builds authentic engagement.

As each student confronts the problem and attempts to solve it, there is a feeling of mounting suspense. What is the question that I need to answer? How will I go about solving this problem? Will my strategy work? Will my classmates solve the problem in different ways? By the time the students gather in a group, they have a rich context for the problem at hand, and are genuinely curious about its solution.”  Read the rest of the piece here.

5-Minute Film Festival: Freedom to Fail Forward

Edutopia’s list of freedom to fail forward clips are also worth a peek.

“Failure is an inevitable part of life, but it’s often accompanied by shame — most people do everything in their power to avoid it. But to paraphrase educational philosopher John Dewey, a true thinker learns as much from failures as from successes. What if educators worked to take some of the sting (and the stigma) out of failing, and encouraged reflection and revision to build upon the lessons learned? Perhaps there’s a goldmine of opportunities if we can re-frame failure as a valuable learning experience, an essential step along the path to discovery and innovation. Check out this list of videos to help start the conversation about embracing failure.”

Check out the clips here.

The Key to Effective Teams in Schools: Emotional Intelligence

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Writing for EdutopiaElena Aguilar  recently wrote a great piece on Emotional Intelligence and its importance for team success.

“I’m going to share one of my greatest discoveries about developing teams. This understanding has led me to take actions that otherwise would never occur to me when working with groups. I also think it might be one of the keys to building effective teams of educators who can collaborate, learn together, and transform our schools.

You’ve probably heard about emotional intelligence (EI) — the ability to recognize when you’re experiencing emotions, to have strategies for managing them, and to recognize other people’s emotions and respond appropriately to them. A team leader’s EI is extremely important, but there’s also such thing as a group’s collective emotional intelligence. And this, say the researchers, is what sets high-functioning teams apart from average ones.

Why Group Emotional Intelligence Matters

A team’s emotional intelligence might be the most important predictor of what it will do together, what conversations will sound like, and how members will feel about going to meetings — and just because a team is comprised of individuals with strong emotional intelligence doesn’t mean that the team itself will have high EI. Groups take on their own character.”  

Read the rest of the piece here.

Do You Connect to All Students?

flickr photo by Jason L. Parks http://flickr.com/photos/jasonlparks/5175093537 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

flickr photo by Jason L. Parks http://flickr.com/photos/jasonlparks/5175093537 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

In this Edutopia piece, writer and coach Elena Aguilar shares a personal experience about watching her younger brother struggle and asks “Who will you get to know this year?”

His nickname was “seizure boy” — not a nickname he welcomed or ever wanted. Once, while waiting for the school bus, he collapsed in a seizure and while on the ground, in the dust, the bullies kicked him until a younger neighbor intervened. His teachers weren’t much better. Most of them were intolerant, indifferent, or uninterested. He dropped out of high school in the first week of his senior year.

This was my little brother who had epilepsy from the age of four until he was twelve years old. During his school years, he was frequently absent, got in trouble, and was set to the principal’s office regularly. He was incessantly bullied, and, as you might imagine, developed a strong dislike for school. When he was 12, a brain surgery stopped the seizures. However, it took many years for him to catch up socially, emotionally, and academically.

In the last few years I’ve become aware of the impact that my brother’s schooling had on me as an educator. I understand why my heart races and my palms perspire and my throat constricts when I see children — particularly boys — who are excluded and misunderstood. When I was a kid, there wasn’t much I could do to protect my little brother from the cruelty of others. I’ve been working in schools for two decades, and when I reflect on these years, I see the connection between my brother’s experience and my mission to create classrooms and schools where all children feel safe, valued, and understood.” Read the entire piece here.

Real-World Tasks in the ELA Classroom: Goodreads

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“In this the-more-assessments-the-better culture, can teachers still create real-world learning experiences in their classrooms? You better believe it!

One of the best professional development workshops I attended was a technology session with Dr. Zachary Walker (@lastbackpack). Since technology permeates the 21st century classroom–as well as the world in which our students dwell, Walker observed, “if we’re preparing our students correctly, the last day of school should be exactly like their first day out of school.”

Gulp.

This forced me to rethink just about everything I do in my room. Since a colleague, Chris (@cjgosselin), and I share the professional goal of fostering a love of reading within our students, we began thinking of engaging, real-world tasks we could assign that adult bibliophiles do in their everyday lives.

Enter Goodreads.

If you are unfamiliar with Goodreads, it is a social network where over 40 million bibliophiles are already cataloging, discussing, reviewing, and sharing great books. Here is how we implemented this real-world experience within our high school classes.

1. CREATING AN ACCOUNT. We asked our students to create a free account (for those who were not already members). Because our students are all minors, we always suggest that their usernames consist of their first name and last initial only (for cyber safety).”  Read the entire piece here

Check out the rest of the author’s blog here. 

Great New Posts from Edutopia

edutopia

Edutopia is one of the best sites out there for teachers who are seeking new ideas and wanting to grow as educators.

Several new posts are perfect for the start of the school year.

13 Common Sayings to Avoid

“When I was a new teacher in middle school several centuries ago, I occasionally said things to students that I later regretted. In the last few years, I have witnessed or heard teachers say additional regretful things to students. Recently I asked students in my graduate courses (all practicing teachers) if they ever told their students anything they regret. After hearing these regrets and talking with children about what teachers said that bothered them, I compiled a list of things that never should be said.

I’ve narrowed my list to 13 representative items. Some of these are related to control issues, others to motivation, and still more to management. All reflect frustration and/or anger. Let’s start the upcoming school year by wiping these sayings out of our vernacular.

“You have potential but don’t use it.”

Students feel insulted when they hear this, and while some accept it as a challenge to do better, more lose their motivation to care. Instead, say in a caring way, “How can I help you reach your full potential?” Read the rest of the list here.


The Key to Effective Teams in Schools: Emotional Intelligence

“You’ve probably heard about emotional intelligence (EI) — the ability to recognize when you’re experiencing emotions, to have strategies for managing them, and to recognize other people’s emotions and respond appropriately to them. A team leader’s EI is extremely important, but there’s also such thing as a group’s collective emotional intelligence. And this, say the researchers, is what sets high-functioning teams apart from average ones.

Why Group Emotional Intelligence Matters

A team’s emotional intelligence might be the most important predictor of what it will do together, what conversations will sound like, and how members will feel about going to meetings — and just because a team is comprised of individuals with strong emotional intelligence doesn’t mean that the team itself will have high EI. Groups take on their own character.” Read more here.


Inquiry-Based Learning: The Power of Asking the Right Questions

“As a fourth-grade teacher at an inquiry-based learning school, I’ve come to understand the importance of planning. Planning is critical and also best practice. I still plan at the beginning of each week and each day. A teacher without a plan has no purpose or learning objectives for her students.

With student-directed learning, there’s a major difference between planning and flexibility. I plan according to what my students need and how I’m going to assess their skills or knowledge, just like every other teacher. The difference lies in the delivery of instruction. A teacher must always be flexible and adaptable.

The Power of the Right Questions

You might wonder how lesson planning works if you’re always reconstructing on the fly. I’ve found that if the students take the lesson in a different direction than what I’ve planned for, it’s my job to light their way to where my intention and their intention meet. Most often, if their curiosity takes us in a completely different direction, I let them run with it. However, I also let them find the connection between what I need them to learn and what they want to learn.” Read the rest of the piece here.