Banking on Empathy

Use a classroom piggy bank to provide a visual reminder that we need to fill each other's emotional bank accounts.

Photo of Donna Teuber
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Drawing from Stephen Covey's research behind emotional bank accounts, this idea would create a visual reminder in a classroom about the need to empathize with each other. Each time that someone feels like they've had a deposit from someone to their emotional bank account, they could add one coin to the empathy bank. When someone doesn't empathize with them, however, they can take five coins out of the bank. This is because it takes a lot of positive interactions to build up trust but just one action to take all of that away.

Anyone in the class can add coins to the bank and anyone can take coins away. The empathy bank will be a daily reminder of the need to care for others and will encourage students to be more empathetic as they interact with other students.  Sometimes we need a reminder that our words and actions can fill up a person or completely deplete them. 

This idea would also work in an office or faculty lounge. Thank you to ThinqShift for this inspiration!


Join the conversation:

Photo of Erin Armstrong

I love the idea of the funds being used to spread empathy outside of the classroom. Perhaps there's a local charity that they could be donated to, or maybe even a need right there in their own school. I think often times that kids hear about the needs in other countries (you know...there's starving kids in Africa!) and fail to realize that there are kids right here who need help!

Photo of Brady Venables

Could something happen at the end of a predetermined time to use the bank funds to spread empathy even further? Or maybe broadening it that way would dilute the importance of fostering empathy within the community. Just thinking...

Photo of Donna Teuber

Hi Brady Venables I love the idea of using funds to do something in the community. When the bank is full, maybe the class could decide on an action to take or an event to host that would spread the empathy.

Photo of Janine Sears

I like this idea, it is a safe way to say you're having a vulnerable day and you need some understanding. On the flip side of having a down day, you could be having a great day and that feeling can sometimes fill the room and others can feed off of that euphoria. Being able to use or raise the energy in the room can be powerful.