Proven Strategies For Teaching Empathy In The Classroom ABEA

Proven Strategies For Teaching Empathy In Classroom


School is the place where a child spent maximum time, it is like a second home for the child. School is the place where a child gets to learn about socialization after their home. Thus the emotions and relationships shown in the class by teachers and others play a vital role. School is the place where children observe others, identify their identity, learn, understand social norms and also replicate social and emotional skills. In social-emotional skills , one of the most important skills is to have empathy with others. Empathy is the ability of an individual to understand another’s feelings and emotions from their point of view. Putting yourself in the shoes of others emotionally


The term Empathy was first introduced by psychologist Edward B. Titchener in 1990 as a German term “einfuhlung” which means “feeling into”.

According to Merriam-Webster, empathy, in part, is "the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.

Empathy is the quality of being attuned to the feelings of others. The term empathy can refer to the ability to imagine and understand how another person thinks or feels. Empathy allows us to go beyond our own perspective and truly care for each other. Empathy is a powerful tool that helps us better understand what drives a student's behavior. For example, A student imagines how difficult it will be for a new student to adjust to a new school and invites them to play with him during recess, thus he invites that new student for playing.

People often think that empathy is the same as sympathy. But it's not. If you are a caring person, you may have sympathy and sympathy for your students. These feelings can lower your expectations of them. Being empathetic doesn't mean you have to lower your expectations. In fact, empathy increases your belief in your student's ability to succeed.

Empathy can be learned and practiced:

Fortunately, empathy is a skill that can be learned and strengthened. If you want to build your empathy skills, there are a few things you can do.

Work on listening to others without interrupting.

• Pay attention to body language and other nonverbal communication

• Trying to understand the other person even if they don't agree

• Imagine yourself in someone else's shoes

• Strengthen your connection with others and learn more about their emotions

• Find out what your own biases are and how they affect your empathy for others.

• Look for similarities with others instead of focusing on differences

• Be willing to be vulnerable and express yourself openly

• Participate in new experiences that allow you to better understand how others feel in this situation

• Join organizations that drive social change

There are various ways as mentioned above through which a teacher can practice empathy in the classroom and bring the positive learning environment to the school. If the strategies used by the teacher are not bringing that improvement in the students, then one should think of modifying the strategies used by the teacher in the class. A teacher can take help from others by asking for guidance from senior colleagues or authority. It can be achieved by taking professional development or getting self-enrolled in some related course which will guide and help a teacher in getting the required inputs along with professional help. At Aditya Birla Education Academy there are several short-term professional development programs along with diploma courses. One can take an In-service professional development program for just 3 hours and it can be extended depending on the requirements of the teachers and school. ABEA also provides a short-term course named Advanced Certificate course in Education which is a 3-month certificate course that helps in dealing with regular classroom situations. Similarly, ABEA also offers a year-long diploma program for those who want to know more about theoretical concepts along with classroom experiences.

Thus a teacher who wants to bring change in education and ultimately in society should get enroll themselves in such programs so that they can foster the growth of the students with positive behavior.

Ways to practice empathy in the classroom

Teachers can be role models and show students the power of empathy in relationships. Teachers show a positive attitude towards learning, while students show an optimistic and confident learning attitude. Empathy has the ability to change individual lives for the better while helping bring about positive social change in schools and communities around the world. Here are some strategies which can be used with the students to help develop empathy.

  • Listen actively: Take an active interest in what your students have to say. Make them feel heard. Don't get distracted or try to "fix the problem" right away. Once you understand the problem, you can talk to your students about how they find solutions or how you would like them to support you.

  • Reserving judgment: Don't judge right or wrong right away. Put your reaction aside and focus on listening to your students.

  • Understand: Try to understand how your students feel. If possible, look to your own experiences to find ways to connect with your student's feelings. Put yourself in their shoes and think of a time when you might have felt the same way.

  • Ask open-ended questions: Asking open-ended questions allows students to share what's on their minds. Instead of asking yes or no questions, they open up more.

  • Practice mindfulness: Recognizing student behavior is essential to gaining empathy. Practicing mindfulness allows you to see other people's perspectives.

  • Use empathetic body language: Empathy is not only expressed in words, but also in facial expressions, posture, and tone of voice. Are you open? Are your eyes on her? Do you speak in a positive tone?

  • Modelling: Teachers can be role models who, show students the power of empathy in relationships. It is the teacher who leads and guides the students to care for the feelings of the others in the class.

  • Point of View: We use the numbers 6 and 9 to teach students about different points of view. First, students have to look at the number 6 and then the number 9. Illustrate with an example from your own life in which something similar has happened in terms of you arguing with somebody simply because they had a different point of view.

  • Using case studies to teach different perspectives: Literature can be used in the classroom to help students see situations from different perspectives. For example, the story of "The Three Little Pigs" that everyone knows. We see the wolf as a gluttonous villain , so we empathize with the pigs, but can we see the story from the wolf's point of view? It's exactly the same as what we do in The True Story of Pigs. In this humorous retelling, the wolf did not snort or blow up the pig's house. Instead, he suffered from severe allergies, and when he stopped by to borrow sugar, he accidentally blew up the house with a loud, powerful sneeze.

By using these tips, a teacher can show students that they want to understand them better and appreciate them.

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Dr. Puja Srivastava
Manager - Quality and Analyst, Aditya Birla Education Academy

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