Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The One Thing We All Need to Be

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.

Why 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:
  • Lecture
  • Explanation
  • "Yes, but...."
  • Interruption
  • Tune out
  • Change the subject

Opportunities to practice:
  • 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?

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