Empathy In The School Setting

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It is essential to teach students all they need to know academically. Getting to know a little about nature, life and culture and how they are approached by the different branches of science and humanities will help them find out what they like and maybe choose a future profession.

A good life, however, is not all about finding the right profession or true calling, when one might change their profession and reinvent their career every decade or even more often than that. Grown – up life is also about building and maintaining relationships, and empathy is a key skill that can help us relate better to other people, understand their reactions, concerns and emotions.

We tend to see empathy and other aspects of emotional intelligence – like self – awareness, motivation and socialization – as an innate ability that one can may either have or not. However, empathy can be taught, and the earlier it is taught the better.

Teaching empathy in schools can better prepare our students for adulthood. In would teach them deal with their insecurities, improve self – esteem and boost their abilities to make friends.
How empathy works in schools is a call to thinking of schools as communities of learning that are dedicated to the long term success of students. As such, relationship building and carefully considered approaches to discipline take on the center stage.

Encouraging an empathic mind-set beyond the classroom has its benefits. First, it can build strong relationships as a way to strengthen communities. If all teachers are more empathic, it is much easier to reap the benefits, since it has more chances of succeeding when everyone is working together. Encouraging positive teacher – learner and learner – learner relationships, schools can raise entire generations of people that are well adjusted, empathic and involved in their communities.

Second, empathy can be incorporated for prevention of misbehavior. Empathy is a very pragmatic way to solve problems, or better yet, to prevent them. An empathic school culture can help increase classroom engagement, lead to fewer detentions, fewer cases of school avoidance and school – related stress. Punitive actions are short term solutions, and more often than not, do not fix the root cause of misbehavior, and definitely do not lead to improved academic performance.

Third, empathy promotes kindness, and kindness is free. Free does not mean that it is simple and that there will not be periods of adjustments to a new way of doing things. We often seem to forget that change can be done little by little, with every action that we take. Teachers who takes time in actively listening to his/her learner who had a problem no matter how small or big, is greatly appreciated. A short five minutes of a teachers time means that the learner felt appreciated and thus more eager to learn.

There is no sure-fire, step by step formula to solve all problems. School heads can determine what works and what does not for their schools. In building a positive and empathic school environment, it should first start with school values. School value is directly influenced by its leadership. A positive school value, if nurtured well, can become a school head’s best ally. A school head can start by identifying whether teachers have a rigid definition of what acceptable behaviour is and how that might have an impact on school values.

Next is to build stronger partnership with parents. It is no secret that building parent – teacher partnerships helps learners learn better. Home environment has huge influence on attitudes related to school, education and learning goals. When teachers and parents work together as a team, the learner is more likely to be motivated and focused. Attendance and class behavior are greatly improved.

Therefore, the school should have a clear strategy of engaging parents that includes communication, collaboration, participation in school activities, consultative decision – making and more. It is also in the learners’ best interest that teachers and parents agree with and send the same messages. Parents and teachers can set learning goals for a learner needs to improve their skills, so that parents can make sure that the learner continues to practice at home. At the same time, teachers and school heads can communicate to parents that showing empathy and understanding are much better ways of motivating learners to learn, even when they are struggling at school.

Another is to give more support for teachers. Most teachers teach because they want to make a difference and are highly empathic people. This does not change no matter how many generations of learners have undergone from their class. What changes is their capacity to withstand stress and better deal with everyday problems. Think of their motivation as a battery – it slowly drains away when they lack adequate support to do their job. That is when empathy becomes less of a priority. A school head that listens actively to teachers has better chances of understanding and helping them succeed, despite roadblocks and many challenges. Teachers need to feel valued and they need real solutions, not just policies that sound great on paper. Strengthening ties from their superiors and parents is a also a good way to build up a great support system for teachers.

It is also important to include empathy in the curriculum. A good part of teaching empathy is that the “what” or the content does not need to change. The secret lies in how it is being taught, so no need to overhaul the entire curriculum. Empathy can be considered a part of learner – centered learning, in which learners are given voice and choice. Classes become even more engaging when empathy is designed in mind.

Encouraging inclusive extracurricular activities for learners is equally important. Leaners benefit from extracurricular activities, like sports or clubs. Learners need to feel a sense of belonging, learn how to socialize, how to deal with failures and benefits spill over the classroom, where they are better equipped to achieve academic goals. Schools can show empathy by adding extracurricular activities that can bring together learners of all abilities. Students can also benefit from volunteering opportunities, where they can build empathy by helping others.

Lastly is by leading by example. One don’t have to have an official title or in key position to be an agent of change. A leader has a great influence and can show the way for others by demonstrating compassion. Nonetheless, anyone can lead by example. It is a fact that a teacher, who goes an extra mile, has some experience and is glad to mentor other teachers. These kinds of educators should be encouraged and supported, as well as recognized for their empathic mind – set. They can be a school head’s greatest ally in switching to a kinder and gentler approach to discipline. They should be given plenty of opportunity to interact with other educators.

Empathy makes the world go round, or at least helps schools become the loving and caring environment that learners need to succeed, no matter their background. Creating that special connection is essential to implementing learner – centered learning, as well as an efficient way to support learning in general. Implementing a more empathic approach in schools helps support well – being for everyone involved, having a ripple effect on entire communities.


Cite this paper

Empathy In The School Setting. (2020, Sep 22). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/empathy-in-the-school-setting/

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