When working with students, building a positive relationship is imperative by the teacher. Notice I didn't say by the student. I believe that the teacher, the responsible adult in the relationship, is responsible for crafting and nurturing a positive relationship. The key to doing this is through empathy.
- You will better understand those around you
- You will better deal with interpersonal conflict
- You can better deal with negative people and their motivations
- You will better understand the perceptions you create in others and the role of your actions and words
How to practice empathy:
- Listen. Really listen. Consider the other person's point of view. Their life experiences and motivations that have led them to their particular view.
- When responding, begin with "I understand," "I agree," or "I appreciate."
- Assume the best in others. Intentions included.
- Open the two-way street. Share experiences, beliefs, and feelings.
- Look for commonalities. "We are more alike than different" becomes your new mantra.
What empathy does not look like:
- "Yes, but...."
- Tune out
- Change the subject
- When the student says, "This is stupid." In front of the class.
- A student comes to class looking sad and doesn't participate in the class discussion
- When the student comes to class and says, "I hate my _________ teacher," and slams his books on his desk.
- When the student doesn't have her homework and says that her dog was put to sleep the previous afternoon.
What does empathy look like where you are?