I read a blog post by Matt Renwick on how Empathy is the Most Critical Skill for Educators to be Highly Effective in Teaching Children. I thought it was an excellent post. It helped me to really think about the question of how we can really know what our students are going through. The post also has really made me think about empathy as a skill that can be practiced and increased. It also made me think about how I need to be diligent and work at the "Empathy Skills". I need to take time out from my regular routine and put myself in the students world. So I made this small list of items that I need to continue working on to help my EMPATHY SKILLS.
This is the ultimate empathy skill builder. This actually puts you in your students shoes for a day. I did it last year and it was a fabulous experience that I believe I need to repeat yearly. I changed my perspective on homework, in class movement, lecture, school furniture and more. If you get a chance, this will change the way you look at your students. I want to do this again this year. Summary of my day shadowing a student in a blog post
2. Questionnaire (Try Google Forms)
Google Forms are so easy to use. The feedback is immediate and flexible. Overview of Google Forms It can be anonymous or not. Ask your students to give you honest feedback on somethings in your class like... How much time they are spending on homework. Or you could ask about their engagement level in class. This will give some direct feedback for where your students are in your class. I have done this recently and it changes your perspective. It I make a google form and then change the name using tinyurl.com to give it to my students See an easy video on using tinyurl with your students See the google form questionnaire that I gave recently.
3. Listen to the Goals Your Students Have
Give your students a chance to tell you their goals for your course. Discuss things like homework completion, preparation for tests, class participation, and what they do when they are at an impasse with homework. Click here to see the blog post on this Feel free to modify this goals worksheet for your own use.
This seems too obvious. Take the time and do the homework as you ask them to do the homework. With all the work shown. This is an activity that will really help us experience what our students are experiencing. I know that we can't always do this because it would take too much time. Give it a try every so often.
5. Think About (Pray for ) EACH Student
This one sounds easy, but is actually difficult. Go through your class roster, one by one, and think about each student. Think about them as a person outside your class. Think of them as a student inside your class. Think of their strengths and weaknesses.
6. Call Home Early
Parents/Guardians insight is invaluable. A quick call home early in the year or semester helps us and parents open the communication pipeline. Also, the question "Could you give me a couple of ideas of how your child best learns?" or "What makes your child tick?" or " What are some strengths and weaknesses that your child has?" A call home before your student actually needs a call home is the best.
7. Look at the Records
Look at IEPs, 504s, Nurses reports, standardized tests, etc. This seems obvious but it is our job.
8. Find Activities that your Students are Involved In
Sports, Drama, Video Games, Church, Clubs, Collections, Music, Hobbies, etc... Go to a school activity that involves some of your students. You will immediately get a different perspective of your student. It is the same thing as when a student sees you in the grocery store and is so amazed that you have a life outside of school. Anyway, it is a lot of fun to see students in their element.
Maybe you have some ideas as well? Please share in the comments.