Practicing Empathy

Practicing Empathy Video

TEACHER INSTRUCTIONS

Pre-Video Conversation:

We all have had different experiences in quarantine. Some of us had extra family time, some of us had less family time because our parents and caregivers had to work, some of us had plenty of food to eat and some of us didn’t. It’s important for us to try and understand what others’ experiences have been like so we can be a good friend and support them. Today we are talking about empathy. Empathy is the ability to try and imagine what it might be like to be in someone else’s shoes, and try to understand how a situation might make them feel. It is sharing in the feelings of others.

Let’s watch our next Quarantine Time Machine video and see what Cory, Tina, and Pops can teach us about empathy and how we can be good friends to each other during this time.

Post Video Conversation:

How did Cory listen in the beginning of the video?
How did Cory listen at the end of the video?
What was your experience like in quarantine as compared to Cory and Tina?
How can you take what you learned from Cory and Tina and apply it in your life?

Whole Class or Group Activity:

Part of having empathy and showing you care is being a good listener. Even through your computer you can be a good listener to your friends. Let’s brainstorm how we can be good listeners.

Active Listening Strategies:

1. Be present and focused on the person who’s talking
2. Look at the person who’s talking
3. Lean in
4. Summarize or repeat what was shared
5. Try to imagine how the person might be feeling
6. Pay attention to body language (define if necessary)

Activities:

• Share your story
• How would I feel?

Home Connection

• Send Parents & Guardians Mental Health Expert Advice on Empathy
• Share your Quarantine Story with your family. Have them share their Quarantine Story with you while you practice being an active listener. Talk about your favorite part of their stories and yours.

TEACHER NOTE:

It is highly recommended that you give students the option to use their paper puppets when sharing in class conversations. For many students using the puppet helps them to be more comfortable, open, and honest.

TEACHER NOTE:

It is important to be sure each student has an opportunity to share their story as they are processing their quarantine experience and return to school. If time during the activity does not allow for all students to share, please make time at a later date. Have students practice active listening skills during sharing if time allows.

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JOURNAL ACTIVITY

Draw or Write your responses:

Get a piece of paper or print out the activity pdf in English or the activity pdf in Spanish.

SHARE YOUR STORY

What is your story? Draw or write about your experience in Quarantine.

Empathy
How would I feel…

If Sam didn’t get assigned to the same class as his best friend?
How do you think he is feeling? __________________
Have you ever felt this way before?     YES     NO
If you felt this way, what helped you feel better? ________________
What can you say or do to help Sam feel better? _________________________

If Jennifer lost her cat?
How do you think she is feeling? ____________________
Have you ever felt this way before?     YES     NO
If you felt this way, what helped you feel better? ________________
What can you say or do to help Jennifer feel better? ______________________

If Michael’s parents are working all the time?
How do you think he is feeling? ___________________
Have you ever felt this way before?     YES     NO
If you felt this way, what helped you feel better? __________________
What can you say or do to help Michael feel better? ______________________

If Shari fell off her bike and everyone laughed at her?
How do you think he is feeling? ___________________
Have you ever felt this way before?     YES     NO
If you felt this way, what helped you feel better? _______________________
What can you say or do to help Shari feel better? _______________________

If Charlie’s brother broke his game on purpose?
How do you think he is feeling? __________________
Have you ever felt this way before?     YES     NO
If you felt this way, what helped you feel better? ___________________
What can you say or do to help Charlie feel better? __________________

If Mary had to wake up extra early for an appointment?
How do you think he is feeling? _________________
Have you ever felt this way before?     YES     NO
If you felt this way, what helped you feel better? ___________________
What can you say or do to help Mary feel better? ___________________

Reflection:
What was it like imagining how others might be feeling?

How do you feel when you know someone is listening carefully to you?

Why do you think it’s important to let others finish talking before you share your story?

How might you be able to support a friend who is sharing their quarantine story? Where should you go for help if the story is a little upsetting?

ADVICE FOR PARENTS AND EDUCATORS FROM A MENTAL HEALTH EXPERT

Nothing communicates empathy better than active listening. Research shows that having one trusted adult to talk to can improve a child’s resilience significantly (Aquilar, 2018). Even for children who are not very talkative (or even nonverbal) your attention while they play and work can help them to feel “heard.” Empathic listening is a way of interacting with others that demonstrates understanding and helps to build a trusting relationship. As distance or hybrid learning begins, we want to have students (and teachers) acknowledge that each of our past quarantine experiences were different. Some had access to online materials for home learning, some did not. Some experienced homelessness or hunger. Some may have had some family members ill or even pass away recently. Unfortunately, some experienced abuse and/or increased domestic violence. Children typically behave in order to have their needs met (see Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs below). If we see children’s behavior through a trauma-informed lens we can better support their adjustment back to school and, eventually, their learning. Note: It’s unrealistic to expect a child experiencing trauma (long- or short-term) to get right back to learning without first addressing their trauma (enter school counselor here ☺). Here are some tips you can teach your children to become better active listeners:

1. Be present and focused on the child.
2. Make eye contact.
3. Lean in (literally and figuratively).
4. Pay attention to body language.
5. Repeat, clarify and summarize key ideas.
6. Empathize with the feelings emoted without judgement.
7. Check your ego at the door (stay calm).
8. Ask open-ended questions (those that can be answered with words other than yes or no).
9. Try to remain solution-focused rather than placing blame.
10. Respect privacy but be sure to report any potential harm to self or others.
11. Notice any changes in behavior and refer as necessary.

 

Resources:
Aguilar, E.A. (2018). Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Kuypers, L. M. (2011). The Zones of Regulation: A Curriculum Designed to Foster Self Regulation
and Emotional Control. San Jose, CA: Think Social Publishing, Inc.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

40 Kindness Activities & Empathy Worksheets for Students and Adults
https://positivepsychology.com/kindness-activities-empathy-worksheets/

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