Creating a Sense of Community in the Classroom

Empathy is one of the top-most secrets behind a great classroom. Teaching is beyond helping students learn core subjects, like math, writing and reading. It is also about guiding students down a path of human interaction and understanding of the world. An ideal classroom consists of human beings who are expected to coexist and learn together. But learning together becomes a problem when students cannot tolerate their differences and accommodate one another.

Schools can also minimize the heightened cases of bullying by teaching empathy and emotional intelligence in the classroom. When students can connect to other people’s feelings, they would not want to inflict pain on them. Empathy can influence how a child sees and interacts with others in the classroom and community. The sooner children learn about empathy, the sooner its lessons can mold them into becoming better students and adults. Hence, this article will reveal some tips on how to build empathy in the classroom.

Tips For Building Empathy In The Classroom

Encourage random acts of kindness

Kindness and empathy belong to the same family. It is about being thoughtful without expecting anything in return. Teaching and encouraging kind acts can help learners start to think about the feelings of others. Encourage students to look out for one another and be eager to help in times of need. This helps them build connections with their peers. 

Engage in community service

Empathy and compassion go hand-in-hand. Encourage students to think about the community and world by doing community service acts. They could spend time cleaning up the courtyard, participating in free will donations (with the consent of their parents), merging with another class to read books to younger students, etc. 

Make the use of kind words mandatory

The use of kind words should not be optional in your classroom. Teach children to refrain from using abusive words, and ensure they learn how to use the magic words— “Please” and ”I am sorry.” You can also start a kind-word game. Give each student a piece of paper, ask them to write their names, and pass it to their right. Each student writes something kind about the person next to them. The cycle continues until all students have written something kind about someone else. And at the end, every child must have given and received kind words in return.

Building good teacher-student relationships
Teacher interacting with students

Teach students to disagree respectfully

Part of building empathy means recognizing that others can think differently from you. Help students learn how to accept and respect the opinions of others when they disagree. Encourage students to use phrases like, “I see your point,” and “I have a different point of view, but I see where you are coming from.” You can also organize a friendly debate and teach students how to present their points without being rude or uncouth.

Set up student-student conversations

Set up one-on-one chats between peers. Simple face-to-face interactions help students learn about each other’s likes, dislikes, and general lives. Have students sit face-to-face to talk to a new peer each day, one-on-one. With younger children, this improves their listening skills and encourages verbal expression. 

Create programs or classroom activities to foster cross-cultural engagement

Activities that allow students to imagine the world from another person’s perspective can be a powerful tool for building empathy. These activities will also help them understand the beauty in diversity and learn about cultures across the world through the eyes of their peers—not simply by watching a video or even reading a book. With technology, this kind of cultural engagement can happen via teleconferencing with classrooms across the world.

Use empathy as a conflict resolution tool

When a conflict arises between two students, ask each one to imagine how the other person feels or describe the motivations for their actions. This will enable them to step outside their emotions and recognize others. At first glance, conflict may appear to be the wrong time to teach empathy. However, when emotions are running high, it is also easy for students to dialogue. Ultimately, understanding someone else’s perspective in a time of conflict guarantees its resolution.

Five Resources For Teaching Empathy In The Classroom

These are some resources that will help you integrate empathy into the classroom. 

  1. Tolerance.org
  2. StartEmpathy.org
  3. RippleKindness.org
  4. Teaching With Diverse Perspectives
  5. 28 Of The Best Books To Teach Children Empathy.

Conclusion

Teaching empathetic students makes the journey easier, as there will be unity in learning. Additionally, encourage social-emotional learning for students to enable them to know how to handle their emotions and people. 

Another way to build empathy is by developing a sense of community in your classroom. This article will help you achieve that.

 

Building Empathy in the Classroom

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