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Adding Empathy Into a Tech-Filled Classroom

Posted by on in Education Technology
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With the inclusion of technology in the classroom and the growing popularity of 1:1 or BYOD, teachers, parents, administrators, and policymakers have been asking what kind of people will this kind of technology dependence create. Many believe that people dependent on technology become disassociated with personal interactions and lose the ability to be empathetic with others. Empathy requires people to recognize, label, and express emotions appropriately in order to understand the causes and consequences of emotions and share them with others. In order to keep character and empathy in a 1:1/BYOD classroom, you have to plan for it, but does it actually help in academics?

According to Teach-nology

Does character education actually help in academics?

Yes, character education can greatly help students with their academic subjects as well. Diligence and a sense of responsibility are some of the main core values taught in character education. With these students will learn how to focus on their studies, and more importantly they will have the drive that will make them want to do well in their academic subjects.

Building character also helps them to interact properly with their teachers and fellow students, turning their classroom into a better learning environment.

Empathy and character are also necessary life skills applicable to any career or path in life. 

So the question becomes, how do I incorporate empathy and character into my classroom?

It is important to first think of how to break empathy down into manageable parts in order to help students understand empathy to the fullest.

Here is a excerpt from Edutopia on empathy and how it breaks down into more easy-to-digest pieces.

More than anything else though, empathy is a tone. Broken into parts, it is about self, audience, and purpose. It helps students consider:

  • Who am I?
  • Who is "other"? And how? In what functions and degrees?
  • How do we relate? What do we share?
  • What do they need from me, and I from them?

This leads to a staggering and often troubling question for all of us: "What should I do with what I know?"

These questions can be tailored for discussions at any age, especially with the inclusion of video or literary examples.

EMPATHYIt is important for students to understand and recognize emotions in order for them to grasp empathy, so discussions on emotions, how things make them feel, and what emotions they are seeing in others will help to develop that base knowledge. This can be accomplished using real-life or fictional examples.

Create the environment for students to express themselves. They need to feel safe, cared for, and comfortable in your classroom in order for them to trust you with their feelings. Turn your classroom into a welcoming environment (even your online classroom or flipped/blended-learning site - think pictures, color, encouraging comments).

Be an example for your students. Show them how you can empathize with others. State your emotions clearly so that they can start to see how the emotions look in body language. Use “I” statements to express your feeling towards actions and comments made in your classroom. Students really do pick up on everything you do and say!

Use stories to help show students how emotions and empathy work. Stories help students to  walk in someone else’s shoes and see how actions can affect the emotional state of another person. They also help students to imagine different scenarios and how different actions lead to different reactions.

Communication Strategies helps students to know when it is appropriate to talk, when it is appropriate to joke around, and when they need to be serious. These strategies also help them to better understand taking turns in a conversation and how discussions work. These strategies will also help with knowing how to respond when someone disagrees.

Collaboration in groups of differents sizes and with different types of people will help students to understand how emotions can affect how people work together. Working together with others is a very important skill, so practicing it in your classroom on helps to create more well-rounded individuals.

Sharing values and differences can help students to better understand their classmates and how they might be feeling during different activities. Discussions like these help students to see their classmates as people with feelings and emotions.

Play is also a way to help students learn how to work with others and understand their feelings. It also allows them to pretend to be someone else and understand how that person feels. Play bonds students together and teaches them to think of the feelings of others in life-like situations.

Technology is a part of our everyday lives and it allows us to connect with people from all over the world, but we still need to be able to connect with the people right next to us. Incorporating empathy in the classroom will help to create students of character that understand how their decisions and actions affect others. They will be able to understand the feelings of others and react appropriately. Empathy is an important life skill, take the time to pass it on!

Feel free to leave any questions or comments! I would love to hear from you.

Blog posted from Santa Ana, CA, USA View larger map
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I am an elementary certified teacher with a degree in Speech-Language and Hearing and a master’s degree in Education. I have been teaching for years, and I have seen the spectrum of technology knowledge in my students. It has always been my goal to incorporate as much technology as possible in order to create fun and engaging lessons that cater to 21st century needs.

On a more personal side, I am a snowboarder, rock climber, book lover, video gamer, and traveler. There’s always a new recipe to try, a new mountain to board, a new wall to climb, a new book to read, a new game to beat, or a new place to visit, and I am always ready for the adventure. With my family and friends by my side, and sometimes my cat, the adventures will never cease because life is an adventure.
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